How parents can use the World Cup to get their kids reading for pleasure

Free Toolkit
Free Toolkit

It’s the World Cup in six days and there are some great opportunities for parents to keep their children reading for pleasure through football. Take a look.

Several organisations have developed mostly free resources that you can use at home to engage children. Here are the highlights.

Mumsnet have done a great booklist of World Cup reading for all ages. It will have a big impact as it is aimed at parents, who, along with schools and libraries, are essential in the fight to encourage reading for pleasure.  They also have more World Cup material coming soon.

Words for Life is a website that aims to help parents to help their children to read more. Their website features several 2014 World Cup footballers – including Lampard, Lescott and Sterling – talking about what they like to read, with quizzes for kids to complete online.

Chatterbooks are developing a World Cup pack for reading groups. Not just for reading groups in schools and libraries, but at home too. There are several fun World Cup reading activities in there. The pack is not out yet, but watch this space.

The Literacy Trust have a massive amount of World Cup literacy materials for use in schools. But some of their materials have been specifically designed for use in the home. For instance, book lists, a football watching bingo game based on kids’ football books, a range of activities to do in front of the TV football, World Cup scrap books, free bedtime stories and a letter schools can send home to parents with tips of how to use the Wold Cup to engage kids with reading.

Bookspace do a fantastic writing kit based around the idea of the World Cup going missing. There are templates and activities that work well in schools. And… and… you get a replica full-size World Cup trophy. I cannot stress how effective this object is.

Finally, there is my own website. Posters, first chapters and ways of making reading about football fun. Also, families can email me to chat about the World Cup.

I’ll be tweeting about World Cup reading during the World Cup. Use the hashtag #nltworldcup to join in.

I hope all of this is useful. Please spread the word. All the organisations listed above work really hard all year round to promote literacy. It’s a good thing to get their great work out there and make sure they are allowed to keep doing it.

What is Foul Play: Brazil?

During June and July 2014 I will be writing a live World Cup story.  Foul Play: Brazil. For children to access in the classroom, the library or at home.

It will be free.

The idea is to write twenty-four cliffhanging episodes based in Brazil as the World Cup happens. The events on and off the field of play will affect how the story develops.

As a result I will write it every evening after the games are over and it will be published free on the National Literacy Trust website before 8 a.m. the next morning, so that teachers can download it and read it to the children.

The story will feature Charlotte and Danny, two fifteen-year-olds from the UK who have been sent to Brazil to cover the World Cup and write about Brazil for First News, the children’s newspaper. Unfortunately for them they will be thrown into a terrifying crime thriller scenario. Something, hopefully, that will grip the children.

Danny and Charlotte are the heroes of my Puffin football detective series, Foul Play. More about that here.

It will not be easy for me to write the story. But it will be worth it.

You can read chapter one – the only pre-written chapter – and find out more here. This is also the URL for the next twenty-three episodes.

The story will run from 11 June to 14 July, weekday mornings only.

Thanks for reading.


World Cup literacy resources

The football World Cup begins a month. England flags have already started appearing on cars. The unofficial magazines are heavy on the newsagents’ shelves. And – soon – most of the TV adverts will relate in some way to football.

Companies, organisations and individuals are ready to exploit World Cup 2014 for all they can get.

And so am I.

But – as well as hoping for a gentle uplift in sales of my books – I am doing it to engage children with reading for pleasure.

For the last three months I have been working with the National Literacy Trust to produce resources that will help teachers, libraries and parents to encourage football-loving children to read for fun.

We have created a free toolkit of activities, games and displays ideas for schools, libraries and homes. You can find that here, on the National Literacy Trust website.

During the World Cup from 10 June to 13 July I will write:

* a free daily (school mornings) episodic adventure story based in Brazil, each chapter written after the events of the tournament on and off the pitch, and

* a daily writing exercise based on the events of the tournament.

We did this for the 2010 World Cup and it went well. The fact that children are being read a story that includes events that happened less than 12 hours before seems to work.

We hope it goes well this time too. Please email me at if you have any queries.

Thanks for reading.