Paul Konchesky's spare time has been spent with his
head buried in a book recently, in an attempt to encourage more
youngsters and their families to take up reading.
The Hammers defender is among 20 Premiership players who have revealed their favourite books as part of an initiative called Premier League Reading Stars.
Premier League Reading Stars is aimed at encouraging people of all ages to read more books and access their local libraries. Each Premiershio club has nominated a Reading Champion, who has selected their favourite children or adult's book to create a list that will be used to inspire families across the country to read.
Paul's chosen book was The Kray Twins - The Final Countdown by Colin Fry, a biography of the infamous East End criminals, and he says: "I chose the book as I have a keen interest in the history of east London, where my family all hail from, and the story of the Kray twins is perhaps the most notorious event of the 20th century in that area.
"More importantly, I took part in this exercise as I think
it is a fantastic initiative that will hopefully encourage more
youngsters to pick up a book and enjoy reading as an important part
of their education."
Players from other Premiership clubs have selected a wide range of fiction and non-fiction books, including Dan Brown's bestselling thriller "The Da Vinci Code" (Kevin Davies, Bolton Wanderers), Roald Dahl's classic "Matilda" (Stephen Caldwell, Sunderland) and Lance Armstrong's inspirational autobiography "It's Not About The Bike" (Stephen Clemence, Birmingham City).
The scheme has been developed as part of a partnership between the National Literacy Trust, Arts Council England, Football Foundation and the Premier League, and will be supported by a series of family reading groups at libraries across the country.
All clubs have adopted at least one library, who receive free copies of all the player recommended titles. All participants have the chance to meet an author, and take part in a series of football based literacy games throughout the initiative.
Dave Richards, Chairman of the Premier League and the Football Foundation, said: "With Premier League Reading Stars, we hope to be able to use footballers' favourite book choices as a way of inspiring families to read together. The programme gives players the opportunity to act as positive role models and shows that by using the power of football we can successfully change people's attitudes to reading."
Gary McKeone, Director of Literature at Arts Council England, said: "We're delighted with the success of the scheme so far in bringing together football clubs and local libraries. We have seen how the iconic power of footballers helps to encourage children to read more, and, even more importantly, to enjoy reading more. We look forward to seeing the scheme develop so it can reach even more children and their families across the country."
Neil McClelland, Director of the National Literacy Trust, said: "Children who grow up in a home where reading is valued are being given the best start in life. By tapping into people's passion for football and providing positive role models, Premier League Reading Stars is able to inspire families to enjoy reading and sharing books together."
Libraries taking part in the initiative will also receive a copy of The Team, by Mick Dennis, which was recently released as part of the Quick Reads series which is aimed at the millions of people in the UK who don't have the time to read or often struggle to finish a book.