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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any queries.
Thanks for reading.
Earlier this month I went to the Somme, to visit the scenes where WWI was fought nearly 100 years ago.
I was there to make videos for a new website that will be live later in April. The website is called www.readingwar.co.uk and is an attempt to help children to understand what happened between 1914 and 1918 in Europe and beyond. It will feature my new book, Over the Line and another book, Tilly’s Promise by Linda Newbery.
Both of us have made videos about how we wrote our books. Some of mine are set in the places where the book is set. Delville Wood. The English Channel. A network of reworked trenches.
The most important video for me was when I revisited Sid Wheelhouse’s grave. Wheelhouse played for Grimsby Town and features as an uncompromising defender in the first chapter of Over the Line. I also described his death in a gas attack in 1916.
When I visited his grave two years ago – while I was writing the book – I was deeply affected. I knew I had to work harder to get his character and circumstances right.
But it wasn’t easy. How do you describe a man choking to death under gas attack over 95 years ago? I am pretty sure my first visit to his grave helped me to understand the gravity of what I was describing. I hope my second visit and the video I made are respectful too.
Reading War goes live next month. I’ll alert you on this blog. Over the Line is out now. You can get it in bookshops and libraries. I can post out signed copies too.
Thanks for reading.