WIGAN Leisure and Culture Trust has teamed up with Wigan Athletic to provide 20 junior school pupils with the chance to take part in a Premier League reading stars scheme.

Children from Leigh Central and St Joseph's will join pupils from two Wigan schools taking part in the scheme, a partnership between the National Literacy Trust, Arts Council England, Football Foundation and the Premier League, which aims to encourage youngsters to read with their families and to make better use of their local libraries.

Latics' skipper Arjan De Zeeuw is one of 20 players chosen to pick their favourite book to form a stars' reading list and has selected the multi-award winning picture book The Gruffalo' by Julia Donaldson.

Arjan said: "I chose this because it is lots of fun and easily accessible for children. As a father of four young girls I spend an enormous amount of time reading kids' books and this is one of my favourites. I am delighted to be involved in the Reading Stars scheme. Reading is so important to a child's development.

"Hopefully we can inspire more children to read and they will go away and enjoy reading on their own and with their families. It's great that we can work together with our local libraries in this way and I hope all of the children involved enjoy all of the activities that are planned for them."

All 20 children involved will have the chance to meet an author and take part in a series of football based literacy games.

The Wiend Children's Centre and Leigh Library will co-ordinate the scheme. Both libraries will receive free copies of all titles on the Reading Stars book list and each library has arranged a series of activities for the children to get involved in.

Taryn Pearson,Trust Head of Lifelong Learning and Information, said: "This is an excellent scheme and we are glad we can build on the success of last year. It definitely had a positive impact on many of the children involved and we really value the importance of giving children good role models like Arjan. We have forged strong links with Wigan Athletic over the last two seasons and we will continue to look at ways in which we can use our library services more creatively to encourage more people to enjoy reading."