O'Shea booked up for reading initiative

by Sunderland AFC

Black Cats back reading campaign.

SAFC captain John O’Shea has kicked-off this year’s Premier League Reading Stars initiative, encouraging school pupils across the region to read more books.

The Black Cats skipper signed up to the scheme as part of the National Literacy Trust campaign, taking part in an interactive DVD to be shown in schools in which pupils are set reading challenges by the Republic of Ireland international.

The challenges are used to support over 30,000 children in 1,000 schools and libraries, who are taking part in a 10 week reading intervention, using children’s passion for football to encourage further reading.

Now in its 11th year, the Premier League Reading Stars has seen three out of four pupils improve their reading level by up to a year, with almost nine out of ten pupils now reading more because they know that Premier League footballers read books.

As part of the campaign, John O’Shea selected his favourite children’s and current book  - Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox and the latest book by John Grisham, Sycamore Row.

Speaking about taking part in the Premier League’s Reading Stars, John O’Shea said: “Reading is hugely important for everybody in education, no matter what their age. I enjoying relaxing with a good book and it’s great to be able to help encourage more young people to start reading books.”

Jim Sells, Manager of the programme at the National Literacy Trust said: “We’re delighted to be working with the Premier League and the Reading Stars programme. The National Literacy Trust’s experience in supporting children to read for pleasure, combined with Premier League football’s huge influence, means we have a fun and appealing programme with proven results.  Using football as a hook to get children to enjoy reading enriches their lives, helps them to succeed at school and gain vital skills for the future.”

Premier League Chief Executive Richard Scudamore said: "We're very proud of Premier League Reading Stars, our literacy programme which has inspired tens of thousands of young people to raise their reading levels. The fact that the schools we work with have low achievement in literacy and high numbers of children from less well-off homes means that we are helping those who need it most, providing a positive impact on their lives. Now we're hoping that this year's line-up of Reading Stars will be able to reach an even wider audience."

Premier League Reading Stars is funded by the Premier League and Arts Council England.

To take part in the player reading challenges visit