Sammy Ameobi


Newcastle United forward Sammy Ameobi has teamed up with the National Literary Trust to promote the benefits of reading to Tyneside schoolchildren.

The self-confessed bookworm joined 15 pupils from Gateshead's Brighton Avenue Primary School at St. James' Park on Wednesday afternoon to talk about the importance of a good education as well as his favourite books, which include Roald Dahl's The BFG and J.R.R Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

The 22-year old, who was born in Newcastle and attended the city's Heaton Manor School, is the Magpies' nominated Reading Star for 2014.

He recently joined professional players from all 19 other Barclays Premier League clubs to launch the 11th year of the Premier League Reading Stars campaign, which will reach 30,000 children nationally over ten weeks.

The campaign is funded by the Arts Council England and the Premier League and is being delivered in the region by the National Literacy Trust, with Wednesday's visit made possible by the Newcastle United Foundation.

Ameobi said: "I've always been a huge fan of reading. It has a really positive impact on my life and helps me to relax away from football so it's great to be involved with Premier League Reading Stars and to be teaching local school kids about how reading can really help them.

"Anything that uses football to inspire young people and to help them in future can only be of benefit to the club and the community so I'm very happy to support the programme and the Newcastle United Foundation."

Kate Bradley, head of the Newcastle United Foundation, added: "Reading Stars demonstrates the enormous capacity football has to inspire young people so it fits extremely well with the wide range of educational projects the Foundation delivers across the North-East.

"Sammy spoke passionately about his favourite books and his enjoyment of reading to the children, so as a professional sportsman and a role model, he is an ideal advocate. We are delighted to have his support."

Speaking during the campaign's launch in March, Premier League chief executive Richard Bevan, said: "We are 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."

Research into the scheme, which launched in 2003, has shown:

// Three out of four pupils made six months to a year's progress in reading in just ten weeks

// The number of pupils who read every day had doubled by the end of the programme

// Nearly nine out of ten pupils said they now read more because they know Premier League footballers read

// Fifty per cent of pupils joined their public library

To find out more about Premier League Reading Stars, visit www.premierleaguereadingstars.org.uk.