Posted on: Tue 07 Apr 2009

Hilario has given his backing to this year's Reading Stars campaign.

The innovative project, now in its sixth season, uses the power of football to encourage families to read more often.

Each Barclays Premier League club has nominated a player as their 'Reading Champion'. They select their favourite children's and grown-up book to create a 20-strong book list. Hilario's choice is Paul Canoville's Black and Blue, winner of this year's British Sports Book Awards for Best Autobiography.

'I always enjoy reading books about sport but this book is a little bit different,' explained Hilario.

'Paul was the first black player to play for Chelsea and it outlines the difficulties he faced on and off the pitch. His book is very honest and deals with a difficult time in his and Chelsea's history but also shows how far the game has come from those bad times.'

Paul Canoville's life story

The Portuguese keeper also selected 'Owl Babies' as his children's book choice and spoke of the importance of reading: 'I always read to my two sons and think it is a great way to get them interested in reading and books. It is very important for children to be interested in reading from an early age and helps with their development and their education.'

Hilario joins 10 other keepers including England stopper David James, Villa's Brad Friedel and Fulham's Mark Schwarzer.

Results from the project indicate that Premier League Reading Stars is working, with 97 per cent of children who took part saying they will read more regularly as a result and 90 per cent of parents saying they will go to a library more often.

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.

Sir 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. It 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.'

Jonathan Douglas, director of the National Literacy Trust, said: 'Parental involvement in reading has more of an influence on children's achievement than many other factors - including how rich or well educated their parents are. Football has the power to capture the imagination of parents and children alike, so it's fantastic to see such great support for reading from players and clubs.'