This summer holiday I will be visiting libraries to talk about my new children’s series, Defenders. The books feature Saxons, Vikings, Romans, Iron Age people, ghosts and a touch of football.
You can meet me in sixteen libraries from York to Plymouth to talk reading, writing and football during July and August 2017 – and to help launch the fantastic library Summer Reading Challenge.
When I started as a professional author, ten years ago, two-thirds of my author appearances were in public libraries. Now library events are rare: perhaps 5% of what I do.
Libraries have suffered terribly in the age of austerity. And that means library users have lost out too. The sad truth is that public libraries can rarely afford to pay authors to come and speak in libraries.
But a happy truth is that libraries made me what I am. Without them I would be neither a writer or a reader. So, this summer I have committed to doing eight days in libraries. To give something back to the public library service that changed my life.
These are the libraries I will be visiting and the dates and times I’ll be there. If you need more details please contact the library or see their website. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org if you need any clarification.
Everyone is welcome to come, except York which is a school event in the library. All the events are free of charge to the public, as far as I understand.
Friday 14th July, 10 a.m.
York Central Library
A launch for York’s Summer Reading Challenge.
Tuesday 189th July, 3.45 p.m.
Hoyland Library, Barnsley
Launching Barnsley’s Summer Reading Challenge with Barnsley FC.
Wednesday 26th July, 11.30 a.m.
Central Library, West Bromwich
Wednesday 26th July, 2 p.m.
Bloxwich Library, Walsall
Thursday 27th June, 11.30 a.m.
Wolverhampton Central Library
Thursday 27th July, 2 p.m.
Halesowen Library, Dudley
Friday 28th July, 12.30 p.m.
Crewe Central Library
Friday 28th July, 2.30 p.m.
Saturday 29th July, 1 p.m.
Storyhouse with Chester Central Library
Wednesday 23rd August, 10 a.m.
Contact number: 0151 907 8383
Wednesday 23rd August, 1 p.m.
Haydock Library, St Helens
Wednesday 23rd August, 4 p.m.
Penketh Library, Warrington
Thursday 24th August, 11 a.m.
Eccles Library, Salford
Thursday 24th August, 2 p.m.
Swinton Library, Salford
Wednesday 30th August, 11 a.m.
Four Greens Hub, Plymouth
Contact number: 01752 306237
Wednesday 30th August, 2 p.m.
St Budeaux Library, Plymouth
Contact number: 01752 975916
During July I will write a ‘live’ story that will bring together football and the story of Anne Frank.
The story is from the point of view of a thirteen-year-old girl called Lily, who is about to go on a school trip to Holland. To visit Anne Frank’s House and to watch England play Scotland in the opening game of the EURO 2017 Women’s football tournament.
To research the story, I visited the Anne Frank House with my wife and daughter (age 13, usefully). I will be writing the last two chapters live from Utrecht as England kick off against Scotland.
I started this story wanting to write an exciting thriller about a group of children going on a school trip to Holland to watch football. But I am planning that there will be a lot more to it after my visit to the Anne Frank House.
The story will be about diary writing, football and Anne Frank. It will also link into the Football Association’s four values. It will feature the events of the next three weeks on and off the pitch. That’s the live element: I will write it the day before publication so that it is as live as I can make it.
Dutch Diaries will be made up of nine chapters. Each chapter will take ten minutes to read aloud. It is aimed at school years 4 to 8, roughly. In addition, there will be at least one episode where readers will be able vote on what happens next. It will be free to download three mornings a week from 3rd to July 20th.
Thanks to the National Literacy Trust and the Football Association for commissioning Dutch Diaries, as well as the accompanying writing exercises, blog and toolkit of in-school reading and writing activities, known as Literacy with the Lionesses.
You can read the first chapter of Dutch Diaries here.
Please pass this blog on to anyone who you think will be interested in promoting reading for pleasure, supporting women’s football and continuing conversations about understanding world events from the past and the present.
Thank you for reading.
England Women, Scotland Women and fourteen other countries will play out EURO 2017 this month and next. It is a fantastic showcase for the women’s game as it makes giant strides from the grassroots to elite football.
There are five things you can do to help add to that momentum.
One. Watch tonight’s Denmark v England match and persuade your sons and daughters to watch it too. It’s England’s last warm up game before EURO 2017 kicks off and should give everyone a taste of what’s to come. Thanks to Channel Four for showing the game on their website.
Three. Read chapter one of my free live EURO 2017 story, Dutch Diaries, published by the National Literacy Trust and the FA. And, if you like it, read all nine chapters to your family or school assembly as the tournament develops.
Four. Collect the Panini EURO 2017 sticker collection. Available in WHSmith and other newsagents. (Although you may see this as a colossal waste of money, it is good news that the women’s game now has sticker albums you can find in the shops.)
Five. Check out the National Literacy Trust’s spectacular range of literacy resources to use in the lead up and during EURO 2017. Great for schools, home and libraries.
When I was younger I didn’t think books could be set in the sort of places people actually lived. I understood that books were set in unreal magical places. Or London.
I certainly had no idea they could be set in Yorkshire. Or – even – be written by people from Yorkshire.
As a result, when I started reading and writing for pleasure, I didn’t think it was a career option. I was just something I did.
I was 20. School had gone badly. I’d been unemployed. But, with a sudden love of reading, I started an A level at night school in Leeds. Things were changing.
Within a month of starting the A level, we had read Wuthering Heights and watched film of the poem V. by Tony Harrison. One set on the moors above Haworth. One set in Leeds. A double dose of Yorkshireness.
I had my epiphany then.
You know? That great moment in your life when everything changes.
My epiphany: I could write about where I was from! And… I could be a writer. As a job!
Tomorrow I am launching my new book Killing Ground in Halifax.
Because it is set in Halifax.
On the moor next to where they host the Halifax Agricultural Show. At the Shay football and rugby stadium. In the new central library. Inside the town’s extraordinary Piece Hall. And on the streets that connect all those places.
I will visit four Halifax schools to tell them about a book set on their doorstep. I’ll tell them about Emily Bronte. And Ted Hughes, who lived just up the road. I’ll tell them about me.
And I’ll tell them they can read about Halifax in fiction. And write about it too.
During July I will be writing a live story that schools and families will be able to download for free in nine cliffhanging episodes.
Dutch Diaries will be about Lily, a thirteen-year-old girl who is going on a school trip to Holland. In Holland Lily and her friends will watch England’s opening game in the Women’s EUROs and will visit major sites in Amsterdam, notably the Anne Frank House. The idea is to create a story that will engage children with the tournament and the Anne Frank story.
I had not been to the Anne Frank House before, so, in May, I visited it with my wife and thirteen-year-old daughter. We saw the superb and thought-provoking museum about Anne Frank’s life in Amsterdam. We saw the secret annex where the Franks and their friends hid until they were betrayed and taken away to the death camps. We saw film and photographs that helped us to understand what happened to Anne Frank after that.
It was difficult. But it is one of the best things I have ever done with my family.
I wanted to see the Anne Frank House through the eyes of my daughter, to help me with my story, but also as a dad. The bookcase that hid the secret stairway up to Anne’s hiding place. The cramped rooms they lived in. One of the books of her actual diaries, with the distinctive tartan pattern.
Mostly we looked in silence. Everyone was silent. People occasionally pointing.
Towards the end I asked my daughter how the Anne Frank House made her feel. She said she was angry. Later she said it had made her more aware.
I am writing Dutch Diaries for the National Literacy Trust and the Football Association. Their idea behind the story was to make children – girls and boys – more aware of the Women’s EUROs. To get them behind the Lionesses. But both organisations were very keen, also, that we used Dutch Diaries to raise awareness of the Anne Frank story and how there are stories about children today that we need to be angry about and more aware of.
Dutch Diaries will be published on July 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 14, 17, 19 and 20 by 8 a.m. here.It is written – roughly! – in the style of the very popular Dork Diaries books by Rachael Renee Russell. (My daughter will be helping with that too.)
Chapter one is already available here.
It will be a live story in that I will write it each day and include events from the tournament and other possible news stories as they occur during July. That will include me going to watch England’s opening game against Scotland in Utrecht.
A writing exercise linked to the football tournament and the story will be published on each of those mornings too on the same webpage.
I will also be writing a blog about the tournament, story and other related things. You can read that here.
Why are there no books about girls playing football? Why haven’t you written any? These are questions I get asked.
As England Women head to Holland for EURO 2017 with a much better chance of winning a trophy than England men, why is there so little football fiction with girls as the main characters?
This is how I answer.
Well, there are two stand-out series about football featuring girls. The Girls FC series by Helena Pielichaty and the Beautiful Game series by Narinder Dhami.
Both full of excellent stories. Both written by excellent writers. Both out of print.
You can get hold of second hand copies of the two series online. But they are not in the bookshops. And library copies will be getting worn out – because they can’t be replaced with new copies and because they get read.
Girls FC is available on Kindle, which is some comfort.
I have written several too. In brief:
Secret FC is about two girls who set up a football team at their school when they are banned from playing.
My Squad series – made up of Black Op and White Fear – is about five child spies whose cover story is that they are in an elite football team. Two of the five spies (and footballers) are girls.
All three books in my Wings series feature a mixed sex football team. Book three – Typhoon – leads on two sisters who play the game.
You can buy all those books on Amazon here. You can also buy them in lots of other bookshops and borrow them from public libraries.
But what else is there?
Not much. And it is madness. Women’s football is watched more and read about more than ever. Female football is the fastest growing sport in the UK.
When England perform well at EURO 2017 let’s hope the people who make decisions about what sort of books get published are watching.
Please also see the Literacy with the Lionesses toolkit has book lists of well-written fiction and non-fiction featuring girls and women in sport. You can download that for free here.
In July 2017 the England Women’s football team will be in Holland to play in the EURO 2017 Championships. I am working with the Football Association and the National Literacy Trust to use the tournament to promote reading and writing for pleasure in schools.
Most of our material will be launched on 6th June at www.literacytrust.org.uk. Until then, this is a summary of what you’ll be getting.
Literacy with the Lionesses is a toolkit of reading and writing ideas for the classroom and beyond. It features book lists and interviews with female writers who make a living from writing about football in newspapers, magazines and in books, as well as other games, activities and comprehensions.
Dutch Diaries is a nine-part live story that will be published three times a week from 3rd July. It is ‘live’ in that it will be written as the tournament approaches and begins. It will be about the Lionesses and their progress in EURO 2017, but it will also feature a story line related to Anne Frank’s diary and the house in Holland where she and her family hid from the Nazis.
Dutch Diaries will be written in the style of Dork Diaries, a very popular children’s book series, and will be from the point of view of a girl in a school trip to Holland to visit the Anne Frank House and watch England’s opening match.
From 3rd July I will be setting nine EURO 2017 Writing Challenges, each published on the same day as the story chapters. These will feature events from the tournament, as well as other stories in the news around the time.
I will be writing a EURO 2017 blog from June 6th. It will feature stories about the Lionesses and my research for Dutch Diaries, which includes a trip to the Anne Frank House with my wife and daughter. You will be able to find it at www.tompalmer.co.uk/2017.
The idea behind all this work is to promote reading and writing for pleasure through the buzz of a major sporting tournament. It is also designed to help you to encourage your pupils and children to support England Women as they try to become the first England team – male or female – to become European Champions.
Literacy with the Lionesses will be free to access. As will Dutch Diaries and my EURO 2017 blog. Dutch Diaries and the writing exercises will be published on the following mornings, available from 8 a.m. if not before: July 3, 5, 7, 10, 12, 14, 17, 19 and 20.
Feel free to email me via this website if you need any more information.
Thank you for reading. And please do pass this information on to any other schools and groups you are part of.
One of the best bits about being a children’s author is visiting schools.
It’s fun. I learn a lot about what children like to read. And I do my best to encourage children to write with confidence and read for pleasure.
For a few years I’ve been performing my Football Reading Game (and a rugby version too), as well as classroom chats and writing workshops. They go down pretty well. You can read about them here.
The National Literacy Trust called my events ‘guerrilla reading motivation at its finest.’
With my new Defenders series out this year I have something new to offer alongside my football events.
I am going to be offering writing workshops related to KS2 history. I’ll be bringing in replica artefacts related to the Iron Age, Romans, Anglo Saxons and Vikings and encouraging the children to write about history. That, as well as talking about how I research history to make sure my books are exciting but still grounded in historical fact.
As well as the history periods mentioned above, I have books that feature both WW1 and WW2. In 2018 I’ll be offering armistice centenary talks to tie in with the huge significance of 11 November that year.
I am booked up until the summer, but have several gaps for school visits in autumn 2017 and into 2018. I go anywhere in the UK. Or abroad, if asked.
In 2018 I’ll be doing lots of work around the World Cup, alongside a huge project about football reading I’ll be fronting for the National Literacy Trust.
Tom Palmer is a champion for reluctant readers and works tirelessly to attract children – and particularly boys – to pick up a book – Marilyn Brocklehurst, Norfolk Children’s Book Centre
What a fantastic day! Tom informed and entertained the pupils in equal measure with his interactive assemblies. The children were inspired by his stories and motivated to follow in his footsteps-a MUST for every primary school! – Neil Homer, Primary School Teacher and Education Project Leader, Shrewsbury Town FC
You can find out more, talk things through or book me by emailing me via admin @ tompalmer . co . uk
Thanks for reading.
The book I am writing at the moment features a boy called Seth who can see echoes of the past. When he visits a football pitch that is near an Iron Age fort he can actually see the village within the fort. He can watch how people lived two thousands years ago at around the time the Romans invaded our islands.
This is a sign at the foot of an Iron Age fort in Winchester. It is called St Catherine’s Hill. If you look at the sign, you can see how the hill might have looked when it was used as a fort.
Seeing that picture helped me. As did visiting the fort.
I made a short film of my visit to St Catherine’s Hill. I talk about how going to the hill helps me imagine the settings of my story. You can watch the film here.
The book I was researching is called Defenders: Pitch Invasion and will be published by Barrington Stoke in November 2017.