Latics ‘keeper Chris urges children to read

Chris Kirkland with his two chosen books

Chris Kirkland with his two chosen books

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LATICS goalkeeper Chris Kirkland is urging youngsters in Wigan to get reading.

The former England international has thrown his backing behind the Premier League Reading Stars programme, which is delivered by the National Literacy Trust and funded by Arts Council England and the Premier League,

Kirkland has joined 19 other Premier League players to encourage children to improve their literacy skills.

As part of the programme they will set literacy challenges and talk about their favourite books, sharing their love of reading online at www.premierleaguereadingstars.org.uk

It targets primary and secondary pupils who are not reaching the expected levels in literacy for their age.

Each Premier League club has nominated a player as their reading star who have selected their favourite children’s and adults’ books to create a 40-strong book recommendation list.

Kirkland has chosen “Splat The Cat” by Rob Scotton as his book for children and “Thinking oustide the box” as his book he is encouraging adults to pick up, which is written by Brad Friedel, goalkeeper for Tottenham Hotspur who Wigan face tomorrow night.

Kirkland has got behind the programme as reading is something he always encourages his young daughter to do.

He said: “I think reading is really important for young children. My daughter, Lucy, has come on a lot since we have started practicing reading with her. We read her a story every night and the one she chooses the most of the time is Splat the Cat by Rob Scotten. I asked her which book she would want me to recommend to people and she chose that one.“

The 30-year-old has a video setting literacy challenges and explaining why he picked his selected books on the website.

Children completing challenges win prizes, while a child completing all 100 challenges set by all the players will get the chance to win signed memorabilia.

Jonathan Douglas, Director of the National Literacy Trust said: “Our research shows that a quarter of boys say that a sportsperson could inspire them to read. So getting footballers on board gives us a new and powerful strategy to get boys reading.”

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore added: “The success of Premier League Reading Stars in encouraging children to read over the last eight years underlines the wonderful power football has in engaging young people.”