As the nation’s attention turns to the football World Cup 2022, local literacy hub Stoke Reads celebrates ongoing partnership with Stoke City F.C.
Stoke Reads has launched a new phase of activity with the club, using the appeal of football as a route to engage young fans in reading and writing for pleasure. Research shows that almost half of boys (45.8%) and just over 1 in 8 girls (13.2%) say they look up to a footballer  and by drawing on this powerful appeal, Stoke Reads has been able to make reading and writing accessible for those who may not always enjoy it at school.
The hub has gifted nearly 1,000 books at recent match days, including football themed titles such as Marcus Rashford’s You Are A Champion, to make books appealing to young fans. Research from the National Literacy Trust shows that 1 in 5 children aged 5-8 years old do not have a book of their own at home , illustrating the importance of book gifting to increase children’s access to literacy.
Stoke Reads also held a postcard competition where over 160 young fans wrote and designed postcards to their favourite player sharing why they find them inspiring. Stoke City F.C. players judged the entries and picked Macie, a 7 year old season ticket holder, as the winner for her postcard dedicated to defender Connor Taylor.
The positive impacts of uniting football and literacy have also been felt by youth Literacy Champions, local volunteers improving literacy in their area. The volunteers were part of YES – Stoke, a project to break down barriers to learning and employment for young people aged 16-24. They manned the Stoke Reads stand at fixtures, engaged children and parents with literacy through book gifting, and coordinated the competition’s judging.
Tom, one of the Youth Literacy Champions, recently entered employment and credited the skills he gained through volunteering as integral to securing his job. He said: “Volunteering with Stoke City F.C. and Stoke Reads was really helpful in boosting my confidence. The experience has given me valuable employability skills which I’ve already put to good use. I spoke about the voluntary work in the interview for my new job, so it’s definitely helped set me up for my future.”
“Sport is a powerful way to motivate children and young people to engage in literacy activities. We have loved bringing the magic of books to Stoke City F.C.’s fixtures, and it’s been great to see how the club has inspired the creativity of young fans through our postcard competition. “All of this work helps to develop vital skills for the future – as we’ve seen with Tom who has put them to good use in securing his new job! We’re very proud of him.”Lois Bateman, Hub Manager for Stoke Reads
“Celebrating literacy at the stadium through our partnership has really inspired our fans. It’s been brilliant to see children sat reading books with their families as I walked along the pitch before the games!”Steve Goodall, Senior Coach at S.C.F.C.
 National Literacy Trust (2022) Role models and their influence on children and young people’s reading
 National Literacy Trust (2022) 5 to 8-year-old children’s reading in 2022