FOOTBALL stars are pitching in to prepare for a literacy festival at the Kassam Stadium today.

Volunteers dressed as Peter Pan and The Gruffalo will join local celebrities including Oxford United players to read with pupils from more than 30 schools across Oxfordshire.

The Reading with the Stars Festival is being organised by ARCh (Assisted Reading for Children in Oxfordshire) and aims to tackle low reading ability among youngsters and highlight the importance of reading with children.

ARCh development manager Jane Rendle said: “We are all really excited about the event and know it will be an enjoyable day for everyone.

“Our aim is to promote the joy of reading so we have some fabulous authors coming along.

“We also have Children’s BBC presenters Sam and Mark, Matt and Michelle from Heart FM and some Oxford United footballers who are all going to share the fun of reading.”

The sold-out event aims to bring together about700 students along with children’s authors, illustrators and story book characters.

Festival organisers want to attract families who normally do not read together by getting other well-known faces to sit down and read with children or give talks, including children’s TV presenters Sam and Mark.

Half of the double act Sam Nixon said: “These events are so important because it gives kids and adults alike a glimpse into how book-writing works.

“It will be awesome to talk face-to-face with young readers, and hopefully this will encourage them to not only read more books but write more of their own.”

The festival will run from 3pm to 7pm and include stadium tours, book signings, musical entertainment and magic tricks.

All the tickets for the festival have been sold.