Page last updated at 00:00 GMT, Saturday, 4 April 2009 01:00 UK

Campaign gets footballers booked

Wayne Rooney
Rooney said children and adults alike read Harry Potter

The first Harry Potter novel is England football star Wayne Rooney's book of choice, he revealed, as he backed a reading campaign for children.

The annual project run by the National Literacy Trust aims to use sporting figures to inspire children to read.

Rooney, who said the JK Rowling stories "really get your imagination going", was among 20 English Premier League players to reveal their favourite read.

Michael Morpurgo's War Horse, and Homer's Iliad were also chosen.

Muhammad Ali's autobiography, The Soul Of A Butterfly, was picked by Arsenal player Bacary Sagna, while England and Portsmouth goalkeeper David James recommended baseball tale Moneyball, by M Lewis.

Family influential

This year's list of Premier League Reading Stars was published as a study, commissioned by the National Literacy Trust, suggested sports stars were among the most inspirational figures for young people.

The research, which questioned 2,176 primary and secondary school pupils aged seven to 15, examined how role models can influence children's reading habits.

After family members, sports people were the public figures most likely to inspire reading, the figures suggested.

Some 22% of respondents chose sports stars, compared with 20% who cited actors, 17% who picked musicians and 16.7% politicians.

Mothers and fathers - with 71.5% and 61.9% respectively - were the most likely to inspire reading.

Epic poem

Director of the trust Jonathan Douglas said: "Football is such a huge cultural influence in this country, and this study confirms that many young people aspire to be like footballers.

"Premier League Reading Stars help us to harness this power and change attitudes, getting the message across that reading is important and valuable to the lives of footballers and to success."

Players have recommended a variety of children's and adults' titles for the 2009 season.

Voting for Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Manchester United's Rooney said Rowling was a "fantastic author" for both children and adults.

Liverpool's Jamie Carragher chose former children's laureate Michael Morpurgo's War Horse. Boaz Myhill - of Hull City - picked Lord of the Flies, while West Ham United goalkeeper Rob Green went for the epic Trojan War poem, The Iliad.

This year 11 out of the scheme's 20 'reading stars' are goal keepers.

A similar scheme was launched in the Scottish Premier League last month.



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