Barton backs young readers scheme
Football bad boy Joey Barton has spoken about his love of reading in a bid to inspire a similar enthusiasm in school children.
The Queens Park Rangers midfielder has joined the Premier League Reading Stars (PLRS) initiative to encourage youngsters and their parents to enhance their literary skills.
Barton is one of 20 Premier League footballers to recommend their favourite books as part of the initiative by the National Literacy Trust.
The scheme sees players from the game discuss their reading habits in a bid to encourage pupils and their families to read together.
Barton recommended Dracula by Bram Stoker, saying: "It was a favourite of mine growing up and now I've probably read it about four times.
"I was really interested in ghouls and goblins and scary stuff. I tend to watch a lot of programmes on Transylvania and the conspiracy theories surrounding it which has all stemmed from my love of this book. If I was stranded on a desert island, this is the book I would take with me."
Roald Dahl's The Witches was his favourite children's book, he added. Dahl appears to be a favoured children's author by the stars and seven of his children's books feature in the list.
Other footballers taking part in the initiative include Liverpool's Charlie Adam, Manchester City midfielder Owen Hargreaves, Everton player Tim Cahill and Fulham's Mark Schwarzer. The eclectic book list is made up of a mixture of autobiographies, fiction and non-fiction novels.
Choices include Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, picked by Tottenham Hotspur's attacking midfielder Niko Kranjcar, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho was selected by Bolton Wanderers' Stuart Holden and Blackburn defender Ryan Nelsen said his favourite book was The Marks Of Cain by Tom Know.
Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, said: "Our research shows that a quarter of boys (28.3%) say that a sports person could inspire them to read. So getting footballers on board gives us a new and powerful strategy to get boys reading."