Working in partnership with 14 SPFL clubs and local libraries, the 4-4-2 Reading Challenge will aim to inspire children aged 5-12 to read four books in exchange for match tickets.
The initiative centres on a reading “challenge card” which participating clubs and libraries will issue. For every book read, children will receive a stamp on their card.
When they have read four books, participants will receive a FREE match ticket, while an accompanying adult will be able to purchase a discounted ticket.
Although this is a test project, over 200 libraries, marking more than a third of the estate in Scotland, will be involved, across 11 of Scotland’s thirty-two local authorities. The project could be extended to cover the whole country if the initiative is a winner.
Funding for the 4-4-2 Reading Challenge has been generously provided by the SPFL. In turn, the SPFL Trust and Scottish Book Trust have launched a partnership to deliver an initial three-month campaign.
The project was launched at Coldside Library in Dundee today (Tuesday), as a class of Primary 3 children from Dens Park Primary School enjoy a magical session with Danny Scott, author of the Scotland Stars FC series, and Sarah Forbes, creator of the Elspeth Hart adventure books.
They were joined by Dundee FC striker Roarie Deacon and Dundee United star Willo Flood for the special event.
The 4-4-2 Reading Challenge is underpinned by a beautifully crafted visual campaign, featuring the drawings of Edinburgh-based Danish illustrator Anders Frang.
SPFL Trust Chief Executive Nicky Reid comments: “The 4-4-2 Reading Challenge initiative is designed to encourage children who don’t regularly visit the library or participate in sport to do so. As such, we think it’s a real win-win opportunity for all concerned. Although this is a pilot project, we have high hopes that it can be a hugely successful programme, and so we are grateful to the SPFL for their support to allow us to kick-off.”
Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, a charity changing lives through reading and writing, said: “Taking part in sport and reading are both important for young people’s physical and mental health. As well as being fun, reading for pleasure can increase empathy, reduce stress and improve wellbeing, while all the research shows that children who read for pleasure also tend to do better at school. We’re delighted to work with the SPFL to use sport to encourage a love of reading in Scotland’s children.”
Dundee FC captain Darren O’Dea comments: “I really enjoy reading with my little girl and hopefully with this initiative we’ll be able to encourage those who don’t read so much to try to do so.”
Dundee United skipper Willo Flood adds: “In today’s world, with so many gadgets, platforms and websites like YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, it can quickly be forgotten how vital and enjoyable reading is. Everyone with children loves sitting reading with their kid and I am no different. Reading stimulates the mind in a truly unique way.
“I am here today in the hope that we can ensure future generations will appreciate the value of reading for everyone – and if Dundee United can get a few new fans out of the kids who are here today – even better!”
SPFL Chief Executive Neil Doncaster comments: “The 4-4-2 Reading Challenge is another excellent initiative from the SPFL Trust and Scottish Book Trust that the SPFL is delighted to support. Learning to read is a cornerstone of every child’s upbringing and hopefully the reward of getting to a football match will encourage many of them to take up the challenge.”