Frank Lampard was the special guest as the Premier League, National Literacy Trust and Chelsea Foundation combined to host a fun and interactive celebration of children’s reading at Stamford Bridge.
Held in the Centenary Hall, the event saw Lampard, who has written his own collection of children’s books, share his love of reading with pupils from local schools – Churchill Gardens, St Joseph’s and St Augustine’s – who are taking part in the National Literacy Trust’s Premier League Reading Stars programme.
Now in its 11th year, the programme uses children’s passion for football to motivate them to enjoy reading, with each Premier League club selecting one of its players to become a Reading Star, where they talk about their favourite books and set reading challenges via online videos.
After a welcome speech by Emma Wilkinson, head of communications and community affairs at Chelsea Football Club, the children engaged in an entertaining football literacy quiz, compered by Tom Palmer, author of over 30 children’s sports books.
Lampard, along with Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore, author Cressida Cowell and Palmer, then went around the room, spending time with each group and answering questions.
The Chelsea midfielder believes the event is hugely significant in terms of encouraging children to take up reading.
‘It’s very important and there’s great work being done by Chelsea, the Premier League and all the reading ambassadors from various clubs,’ said our all-time highest goalscorer.
‘As footballers, we have a responsibility to give something back and the club has done brilliantly in hosting this event.
‘I try to encourage my own children to read. It doesn’t have to be for hours every night, but if you can make them do a little bit each day I think they enjoy it. You see the knowledge they gain from it and reading’s such an important life skill.’
Scudamore, meanwhile, explained how the event provides inspiration for the youngsters.
‘It’s very important and we’ve been doing this since 2003,’ he said. ‘The clubs nominate a player and the player then chooses their favourite books. We now have a 10-week process where we can measure the young people’s reading skills over that time.
‘The clubs do lots of work and it’s excellent that players give up their time to promote the programme.
‘Frank Lampard is here and it’s an inspirational day for the children, it’s not like an ordinary day at school. It’s cold and wet, the kids are inside having fun and the smiles on their faces when he walked in were wonderful.’
Lampard, to the delight of all who were present, handed out signed cards and posed for group photographs, before the children took part in a penalty shoot-out.
What was already a memorable afternoon for the youngsters came to an end when they were taken on a tour of Stamford Bridge, rounding off a day they are unlikely to forget any time soon.
As part of the Reading Stars scheme, each year a player from every Premier League club chooses an adult book and a children’s book. The list for 2014 is:
|Club||Player||Children’s Book||Adults’ Book|
|Arsenal||Wojciech Szczesny||The Glass Mountain and other Polish Fairy Tales by Elsie Byrde||How Not to Be a Professional Footballer by Paul Merson|
|Aston Villa||Jed Steer||The Hobbit by JRR Tolkein||One Shot by Lee Child|
|Cardiff City||Andrew Taylor||Roy of the Rovers: The Unauthorised Biography by Mick Collins||Craig Bellamy: GoodFella by Craig Bellamy|
|Chelsea||Frank Lampard||Ratburger by David Walliams||Team of Rivals: Lincoln Film Tie-in Edition: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin|
|Crystal Palace||Aaron Wilbraham||Alien Alby by Kaye Umansky||Gazza: My Story by Paul Gascoigne|
|Everton||Steven Naismith||Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling||Gone for Good by Harlan Coben|
|Fulham||Dan Burn||Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl||Angels and Demons by Dan Brown|
|Hull City||Liam Rosenior||Oxford Junior History: Tudors and Stuarts by R.E.C. Burrell||Pep Guardiola: Another Way of Winning: The Biography by Guillem Balague|
|Liverpool||Raheem Sterling||Holes by Louis Sachar||I am Zlatan Ibrahimovic by Zlatan Ibrahimovic|
|Manchester City||Joleon Lescott||Funnybones by Janet & Allan Ahlberg||Ronaldo: The Journey of a Genius by James Mosley|
|Manchester United||Ashley Young||Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl||Open by Agassi|
|Newcastle United||Sammy Ameobi||The BFG by Roald Dahl||Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien|
|Norwich City||Russ Martin||James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl||The Damned Utd by David Peace|
|Southampton||James Ward-Prowse||James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl||David Beckham by David Beckham|
|Stoke City||Charlie Adam||The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler||My autobiography by Alex Ferguson|
|Sunderland||John O’Shea||Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl||Sycamore Row by John Grisham|
|Swansea City||Nathan Dyer||The Twits by Roald Dahl||My Premier League Diary by Ashley Williams|
|Tottenham Hotspur||Jan Vertonghen||Matilda by Roald Dahl||Inferno by Dan Brown|
|West Bromwich Albion||Jonas Olsson||Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren||Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Volume One (first part of his memoirs)|
|West Ham United||Joey O’Brien||The Cry of the Wolf by Melvin Burgess||Engage. The Fall and Rise of Matt Hampson by Paul Kimmage|
Liverpool Raheem Sterling Holes by Louis Sachar I am Zlatan Ibrahimovic by Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Manchester City Joleon Lescott Funnybones by Janet & Allan Ahlberg Ronaldo: The Journey of a Genius by James Mosley
Manchester United Ashley Young Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl Open by Agassi
Newcastle United Sammy Ameobi The BFG by Roald Dahl Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
Norwich City Russ Martin James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl The Damned Utd by David Peace
Southampton James Ward-Prowse James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl David Beckham by David Beckham
Stoke City Charlie Adam The Gruffalo’s Child by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler My autobiography by Alex Ferguson
Sunderland John O’Shea Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl Sycamore Row by John Grisham
Swansea City Nathan Dyer The Twits by Roald Dahl My Premier League Diary by Ashley Williams
Tottenham Hotspur Jan Vertonghen Matilda by Roald Dahl Inferno by Dan Brown
West Bromwich Albion Jonas Olsson Pippi Longstocking by Astrid Lindgren Bob Dylan, Chronicles, Volume One (first part of his memoirs)
West Ham United Joey O’Brien The Cry of the Wolf by Melvin Burgess Engage. The Fall and Rise of Matt Hampson by Paul Kimmage