Jermaine Jenas is among the twenty players who have chosen their favourite books. Choices range from classic novels such as John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men; sports biographies like Joe Lovejoy’s chronicle of the life of George Best, Bestie: A Portrait of a Legend; and children’s favourites like Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach.
Premier League Reading Stars has a simple central premise. Each of the twenty Barclays Premier League clubs nominates a player as their ‘Reading Champion’ and they select their favourite children or adult’s book to create a twenty-strong book list.
JJ's choice is David Peace's The Damned United, and he said: "This is a book which focuses on Brian Clough's short spell managing Leeds United from a fictional point of view.
"Obviously coming from Nottingham, I have always been interested in Brian Clough and it is good to read something about football that is a bit different; it will intrigue you and make you laugh."
All clubs have adopted at least one library, who receive free copies of all the recommended titles. Families who take part in sessions at the library have the chance to meet their Reading Champion, a local author and get involved in a series of football-based literacy games throughout the initiative.
Results from last year’s project indicate that Premier League Reading Stars is working, with 97% of children who took part saying that they will read more regularly as a result and 90% of parents said they would go to a library more often.
The scheme has been developed as part of a partnership between the National Literacy Trust, Arts Council England, Football Foundation and the Premier League, and will be supported by a series of family reading groups at libraries across the country.
Sir Dave Richards, Chairman of the Premier League and the Football Foundation, said: “With Premier League Reading Stars, we hope to be able to use footballers’ favourite book choices as a way of inspiring families to read together. It gives players the opportunity to act as positive role models and shows that by using the power of football we can successfully change people’s attitudes to reading.”
Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust, said: “Parental involvement in reading has more of an influence on children’s achievement than many other factors – including how rich or well educated their parents are. Football has the power to capture the imagination of parents and children alike, so it’s fantastic to see such great support for reading from players and clubs.”
Premier League Reading Stars, the innovative project that uses Barclays Premier League players to encourage families to pick up a book and read more often, has kicked off its sixth season.