Fresh from his goalscoring exploits in helping to secure a 3–0 victory over Wigan Athletic, Bailey took time to chat about the importance of reading with over 150 children from Dame Dorothy, St Benet’s and Jarrow Cross primary schools.
Bailey joined the children in various workshops at the Foundation of Light event where pupils took part in book themed activities including making Harry Potter themed biscuits, story writing session with local author Anne Twine, as well as enjoying a game of dodge ball.
With children dressed in a colourful array of costumes of their favourite fictional characters, the defender was also on hand to pose for photographs and to present certificates the days “top achievers”.
Bailey said: “I always enjoy these events and it’s great to see the incredible work being carried out by the Foundation and the impact it can have on the community. It’s great to see so many kids in all different costumes which shows they are reading a good variety of books.
"Reading is a great way to escape, to use your imagination and let your thoughts run wild – reading is a great tool for that.”
“Reading is an important tool for life – both kids and adults. You’re never to young to take up reading and you’re never to old to stop.”
The defender said he’s currently doing a lot of reading as “part of his studies” and cited a current interest in “books on leadership”. He believes taking part in such events is a fundamental part of the club’s role in helping make a difference in the community.
He said: “Being a professional footballer at a club like Sunderland we are in a privileged position to be able to come down and put a few smiles on faces – including my own.
"You can make a significant impact with the things you say and the example you set. It’s important we support the Foundation and taking part in World Book Day helps highlight the importance of reading and continuing to read.”
Bailey’s support certainly seemed to have the desired effect on Dame Dorothy pupils and SAFC fans Oliver Anderson and Ruby Horn, both nine.
Oliver said: “It was overwhelming to meet Bailey. He asked what school I was in and what I was doing for my biscuit design. My favourite books are the Harry Potter ones.”
Ruby added: “I really enjoyed meeting Bailey. I’ve seen him playing on the TV. I enjoy reading and it’s good to expand your vocabulary to help with your writing.”
Year 6 teacher at St Benet’s Primary School, Neve Smith, also highlighted the impact meeting the Sunderland star had on the children.
She said: “The children have been really excited and meeting Bailey has really made their day. Seeing someone they look up to talk about the importance of reading just inspires the children even more.”
The event was part of the Foundation’s Primary Stars initiative to promote literacy.
Coordinator Danielle Chapman said: “Bailey is a big role model to local kids and seeing him engage with reading is a massive inspiration.”