All posts by tompalmer

British children's author of fiction featuring sport & history. Dad. Husband. Fell runner. LUFC. Roy of the Rovers. D-Day Dog coming May 2019. 🐶 @tompalmerauthor


During the World Cup I’ll be tweeting and blogging about ways that you can use the tournament to try to encourage children to want to read and write for pleasure. I’ve already created stories, resources and competitions that might work for you in schools, libraries and at home.

Please follow the #WorldCupReading hashtag and let me know what you’re up to, so that I can on to others too.

1  A free daily adventure story set in Russia, written as the events of the tournament play out. Available weekdays during the tournament from the National Literacy Trust website.

Writing Competition. Visit the Kickaround magazine’s website to enter a World Cup writing competition, with some tips from me.

3  A five-minute video from my YouTube channel – titled HOW TO BECOME A WORLD CUP EXPERT –  where I talk direct to children about how reading about the World Cup can up their game. [nearly ready]

4  Ten free World Cup writing exercises for the classroom:

SPAG worksheets based around my book Dead Ball, which is set during a major football tournament in Moscow.

Ideas from other schools and libraries about great World Cup reading displays, hosted on Pinterest:

7  A letter that your school can send home to parents, suggesting ideas about how they can support their child’s literacy through the World Cup:

8  I’ll be touring my World Cup Reading Game to 35 schools, libraries and book festivals during the tournament. Most of my events are in schools, but some for the public. You can find out when and where here:

Toolkit of many more ideas about how to use the World Cup to inspire reading in the classroom, school hall, playground and beyond.

10  Follow the #WorldCupReading hashtag where I’ll be blogging, writing and tweeting highlighting what other people are up to.

For more information about the above – and for even more resources – please visit  And please pass this on to anyone you think would like to read it.

Enjoy the World Cup.

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Top Ten books with World Cup Potential

Read the full blog here

Why I put Syrian children in my last two books

My last two books published have featured Syrian child refugees who have made it to the UK to be taken in by families and communities.

I did this because I have been in several schools and communities that have children who are refugees from Syria (and other troubled places in the world) and heard their stories in the staff room at lunch time.

That – and reading books and articles about Syria today – motivated me to develop Yusra, Galip and Aylan as characters in my children’s books.

I did it, also, because I want children who are in all schools to be able to read about how we – in our relatively safe and stable country – can help people whose lives have been smashed to pieces and how we need to remember this country has a history of taking in and accepting refugees.

Gus the Fantastic Football Cat (Egmont, KS1) is about a Syrian girl and her dad who look after a rescue cat when they arrive in the UK from Syria. The parallel of the girl taken in by a UK community and her, in turn, taking a rescue cat in is the only thing about the story that relates to her background. The rest of the story is hopefully a lot lighter, as the cat reveals it can predict World Cup football results.

Image result for pitch invasion palmer

Pitch Invasion (Barrington Stoke, KS2) is a bit more direct. The story is about a haunted hillfort in Cornwall and a ghostbusting duo – Seth and Nadiya – who realise there is a parallel between the ghost of Iron Age refugees escaping the Romans by heading west and two Syrian boys – Galip and Aylan – who have recently been taken in by a Cornish family, after tragedy in Syria.

Both books would have worked well enough without introducing Yusra and Galip and Aylan. But, because they are being published last year and this, I think it works better that I did include them.

Six Nations 2018 literacy resources

The Six Nations rugby starts on February 3rd. A great chance to use children’s passion for rugby to engage them with reading and writing for pleasure.

I have loads of resources available on my website that you can use in schools and libraries and homes. All free.

In brief, this is what I can offer.

One. A new video where I talk about rugby reading for the 2018 Six Nations tournament.

Two. Several free downloadable rugby and reading posters in English and Welsh.


ThreeFour books set in the world of rugby union. My Rugby Academy series, about a school rugby team. And Scrum.

Four. Certificates – signed and dated by me – for any children who read my Rugby Academy series.

Five. A reading comprehension exercise for each of the four books above.

top trumps

Six. A Top Trumps game using characters from my Rugby Academy series.

Seven. A free Rugby World Cup story, commissioned by England Rugby in 2015.

Eight. Lesson plans written in conjunction with England Rugby. Half about reading. Half about writing.

Nine. Reviews of the major rugby union books, magazines, websites and newspapers.

Ten. Two school activity toolkits of ideas to promote reading through rugby union.

Please get in touch if you would like more information about author visits I do that link reading for pleasure with rugby, football and cross country running.