Footballer helps kids tackle reading

SCHOOLS across Northumberland are being urged by a Newcastle United defender to tackle a new literacy project.

Mike Williamson has joined 19 other Premier League players to use the motivational power of football to encourage children to improve their reading skills.

As part of the Premier League Reading Stars programme, delivered by the National Literacy Trust and funded by Arts Council England and the Premier League, the footballers have set some challenges and talk about their favourite books.

The scheme targets primary and secondary age pupils who are not reaching the expected reading levels.

Each Premier League club nominates a player who then selects their favourite children’s and adults’ books to create a 40-strong recommendation list. Those taking part can also go online – – to try 100 literacy challenges and watch the players explain why they picked their favourite books and what they enjoy about reading.

Mike’s chosen children’s story is Meg and Mog by Helen Nicoll.

“I find it really funny and light-hearted, plus it has a lot of hidden meanings,” he said.

“It’s great when books can teach life lessons and capture your imagination at the same time.”

Schools can purchase a resource pack for £290 from the National Literacy Trust, which includes a ‘Tactics Book’ for teachers, branded football resources for 32 pupils, including pens, badges and reading journals, and exclusive access to the online videos.

To celebrate the project, Newcastle United Foundation has five free resource packs to give away to local schools, along with a free two-hour literary-themed workshop and stadium tour at St James’ Park (Sports Direct Arena). To apply for a pack, workshop and tour, email by the end of tomorrow (Friday).