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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 April, 2004, 05:45 GMT 06:45 UK
Footballing heroes read to boys
Young apprentice players at a Division One football club are to teach young boys aged eight to 12 reading skills.

The Reading FC players have been given special training by a professional storyteller to create and present stories and poems to local schoolboys.

They will perform for the children in local schools, libraries and at the football club between 20 and 29 April.

Parents and carers are also being encouraged to join the sessions and learn tips for family storytelling.

The fact that the storytellers may be the same age as their older brothers reinforces how reading can be cool
Jim Sells
The scheme, funded by Arts Council England, is being run by the National Literacy Trust.

Jim Sells, literacy development officer of the initiative, said: "The scheme provides positive male role models for reading at an age when traditionally children, and especially boys, are less likely to read.

"Reading FC have shown real commitment by encouraging their young fans to read through this stimulating and exciting scheme and are unique as they are the only club to have trained all their academy players as well as club staff to participate.

"The fact that the storytellers may be the same age as their older brothers reinforces how reading can be cool."

500 pupils to benefit

Mark Rivers, of Reading FC's Football in the Community scheme, said, "The project is a fantastic addition to our current curriculum programme, and is viewed among our team as an extremely worthwhile project and one that we are proud to be associated with."

Heather Owens, general adviser for English at Reading Borough Council, said: "This is a really exciting opportunity for 500 of our pupils.

"Projects such as this will encourage children in Reading to visit libraries and motivate them to read more."

Story telling sessions will be taking place in libraries on 20, 26, 27 and 29 April.

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