All posts by tompalmer

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.


Announcing Armistice Runner

I am delighted to be able to  say that I have a new book coming out in autumn 2018.

It’s called Armistice Runner and is about a  thirteen-year-old cross country/fell runner called Lily. And her great great granddad, who was a champion fell runner as well as a trench runner during the last weeks of the First World War.

The story is based very loosely on my daughter’s love of cross country and fell running and the champion fell runner of 100 years ago, Ernest Dalziel (above).

You can read Barrington Stoke’s Press release about the book here.


Win a Skype with Tom – this week!

To celebrate the launch of my Iron Age ghost story, Pitch Invasion, I am offering three free thirty-minute Skype sessions with schools, to take place this coming week on Thursday 16th November.

Pitch Invasion is about Seth and Nadiya, two children who discover that an ancient hillfort near where Seth is staying is haunted by the Iron Age people who lived there 2000 years ago.

While I was writing Pitch Invasion I found out all I could about hillforts and Iron Age people by visiting Iron Age sites and reading as much as I could find about the era. I hope the book shows what an Iron Age settlement might have looked like and how its people lived.

Pitch Invasion is the last book of three in my Defenders series in which Seth and Nadiya solve hauntings from history. Killing Ground features the Anglo Saxons and Vikings. Dark Arena is set in an excavated British Roman amphitheatre. All three books have been painstakingly researched and tie in very much with the KS2 historical subjects.

I regularly visit classrooms via Skype. In the half an hour session I’ll talk to the children about what I found out about the Iron Age while I was researching the subject. I’ll read a short section from Pitch Invasion. And I’ll answer questions about the book and my life as a writer.

If you would like to be one of the three schools involved, please email me at All schools who email me before 9 p.m. on Monday 13th November will be entered into a draw and three will be chosen at random. I will contact everyone who has applied by Tuesday lunchtime to let you know if you’re one of the successful schools.

Pitch Invasion will be published by Barrington Stoke on Wednesday 15th November 2017.

You can find out about all three books in the Defenders books and their links to KS2 history topics here.



Free Remembrance Day resources for schools

Over the last four years I have written five books set during the First and Second World Wars. Over the Line, The Last Try, Flyboy, Spitfire and a new book due out in 2018.

I have developed a range of school resources linked to these books. Here’s a short summary of what is available. All are free.

First World War fiction posters.

A guided reading pack based on Flyboy, the story of an Indian pilot who fought in RAF during WW1. 

Playscripts for the classroom taken from my children’s book, Over the Line.

Toolkit for schools including several First World war ideas.

Seven short videos of me talking about how I researched Over the Line in France, including one film at the grave of one of my characters.

Certificates for children who have finished reading Over the Line as part of a class read or individually.

Classroom history and literacy pack about The Last Try, the story of rugby league’s only winner of the Victoria Cross.

Free story about a footballer signing up to fight in a modern war.

Free story about a Russian prince and England rugby legend who flew for the RAF during WW2.

During the 2018 Armistice Centenary commemorations I will be offering schools resources and events. If you would like a reminder about these, please contact me via this website.

World Cup 2018 literacy resources

Start a Reading Revolution in your school!  From 14th June -16th July 2018, I am writing a live thriller adventure set at the men’s football World Cup finals in Russia.

  • published 7.30 am each weekday morning
  • FREE ten-minute read chapters for schools (Y4 – Y8) and families to read
  • written each night, influenced by the fixtures on and off the field
  • print it, read out loud, put on whiteboards, share on devices …
  • featuring dramatic cliffhangers, voting to change the storyline
  • “word of the day” extra activity
  • based on my new history series, Defenders more here

DOWNLOADS : Chapters 1-7 are now live.   I am grateful to the National Literacy Trust for hosting the story here.  Simply follow an easy and FREE registration process:

  • click on Join us
  • choose the Free Option
  • start Membership
  • enter Name, Email and Preferences
  • verify by email

Dyslexia friendly version here

VOTING : On 20 June, in Chapter 5 of Defenders: Russia I am offering  three clear options for what happens next, to be discussed in class or at home and then take a vote!   Please cast your vote by using the contact form below or by email with your preferred option in the subject line.  Voting will be open from 7am-7pm British Summer Time.  Any votes submitted before or after the voting is open will not be counted.  One vote per group, please!

Any additional email addresses submitted for voting purposes will not be used for future marketing purposes or shared with any third party, without consent.  (With new GDPR rules coming in, we ask you to check our privacy policy and terms and conditions )

“The best time I remember from my primary school was when our teacher read the Foul Play World Cup Mystery out to us. I’ll never forget us all listening together every morning and worrying about what would happen if England won!” Kylie

Use this Live World Cup Read poster in your school or library.  Add when and where you wil be reading it!

FAQ  :  If you have any difficulties please email and we will try to help.

If you break up before the story finishes please consider asking pupils to follow from home with their families.

My Other World Cup Resources:

  • SPAG worksheet here with powerpoint here
    based on  Dead Ball – my Russian children’s thriller – and linking to the 2018 men’s football World Cup
  • Video – researching and writing Dead Ball in Moscow here
  • Book Covers for making bunting etc. here 
  • Football Readers pack – posters about real readers and template to make your own here 
  • World Cup display ideas here
  • Secret FC colouring here
  • Football Academy colouring here

  • Gus the Famous Football world cup predicting Cat colouring  download here 


  • World Cup schools toolkit here
  • World Cup Football Writing Exercises here
  • Letter to send home to encourage reading here 
  • Euro 2016/Somme toolkit here 


  • Mae Cwpan y Byd yn dod yn nes, felly dyma linc i siart wal y gallwch chi ei lawrlwytho ac argraffu adre! Welsh World Cup wallchart here

Coming Soon

  • At the end, there will be a certificate signed by Tom for you to present to your pupils.

Thank you!

I’ve been using the World Cup to help promote literacy  since 2006 (see here ) with spin offs like the Rugby World Cup, Euros, and last year’s Anne Frank Diary for the Women’s Football European Championships.  Thanks to all the pupils and teachers for your amazing support!

Our previous Live Read activities were downloaded nearly 500,000 times and used by tens of thousands of schools… “I have been downloading Tom’s fantastic episodic story from the Literacy Trust website. I just wanted to drop him a line to tell him how brilliantly his story is going down at our school. Every morning I have children, particularly the boys, running up to me to check that I have downloaded and printed out the latest chapter of the story. The feedback from all the teachers is really positive, they tell me that it has really captured the boys imaginations and is encouraging them to read too!”    Lucy Bakewell, SLA School Librarian of the Year

And if you like these you might like …

A NEW World Cup story 

 A funny and heartwarming story about a girl and her pet cat, who becomes a World Cup celebrity! 

There’s a football challenge at Yusra’s school and everyone wants to win. Which class can find the best way to predict England’s World Cup results? Yusra has an idea – her pet cat Gus could help! As Gus keeps guessing the scores right, the word spreads and soon everyone wants a piece of the famous football cat. But is the life of a celebrity as purrfect as it seems? More here 

Gus the Famous Football Cat colouring sheet download here 

More FREE literacy resources here

More about all my other books for children here

Background to the Defenders trilogy

Seth and Nadiya specialise in solving ghostly hauntings at football venues, which take them to settings including:


Each book ties into a KS2 history theme:

Killing Ground (Vikings & Anglo Saxons) 
Dark Arena  (Roman Britain) 
Pitch Invasion  (Iron Age Celts)

More here


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