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6 June 2014

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The American Express Community Stadium was flooded with over 300 schoolchildren today, to listen to well-established author Dan Freedman talk about his new book ‘Skills from Brazil’.

With the Juice FM lounge in the West Stand decked out in suitable World Cup flags and banners, Dan spoke of the inspiration behind his latest literary creation, the eighth in his series of works following Jamie Johnson, and how he was influenced by this summer’s tournament in Brazil.

The day was split into three separate talks from Freedman, as approximately 100 children each time listened to him talk through his writing career so far and his work for The FA; which involved attending two World Cups and interviewing the likes of Wayne Rooney, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

After the talk there was a brief question and answer session with Dan ,who answered all manner of questions from; ‘Who is the best player you’ve interviewed?’ to ‘What was it like going to the World Cup?’.

Some of the children were also given the opportunity to take a tour of the Amex and see how the stadium functions on a day to day basis.
Dan told; “To be here at the Amex and talk about football with the kids is the perfect kind of expression of what I’m trying to do with the books.

“It’s massively important to do talks with the kids, that’s why I call them my bosses! I need to know what they’re interested in, what they’re talking about and what floats their boat.

“They give me ideas and feedback, which is very important, otherwise you’re isolated and is not the best way to connect with your audience.

“The best thing is seeing them leave with a signed book. It is especially satisfyin when all we’re told is that boys have no interest in reading.”

Jo Robson, Albion in the Community’s schools education development manager, felt the event was a huge boost in developing reading levels amongst young people.

“We had 11 schools and over 300 kids, all the teachers said it was really inspiring and the books were flying off the shelf.

“The work that we do here is very much about engaging the community and bringing people into the stadium, when they might not normally have access to it.

"If they’re going to support a team in the future I hope it will be Albion, so that’s a positive.

"Their teachers spent every day telling them why they should read; it’s not the same as having someone who’s met the likes of Messi and Ronaldo.

"Dan just wants to excite them about books and give them an idea of characters they might relate to.

“He read out a bit about a penalty and until the moment Jamie Johnson stepped up to take it, but didn’t let the kids know what happens afterwards. That for me makes them want to pick up a book in the future.”

With the 2014 World Cup in Brazil just around the corner, Jo said the timing could not have been better.

“I targeted this week so that a week before the World Cup schools could target their most reluctant readers.

“Nationally there’s a massive issue with boys not being motivated to read, so tying in a book I know boys are motivated by with an author who has a new book out called ‘Skills from Brazil’, is exactly why I planned it.

“They’ll walk out of here with the books relating to the World Cup and it gets them reading. Today we could have got half of those kids  who didn't read books before into reading books when they leave.”

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