All posts by tompalmer

EURO 2017 & Reading for Pleasure

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.

School visits with Tom Palmer

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.

More about my history events here.

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.

Research on an Iron Age fort

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.

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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.

Letters from parents with dyslexic children

Every week or two I get an email from parents of dyslexic children. These are the last two I have received.

 

Dear Mr Palmer

I just wanted to write to tell you about my daughter, xxxx.  At the end of last term you visited her school,  where she met you and was really excited about your books.  For xxxx this is completely out of character, she is dyslexic and usually goes out of her way to avoid books.  I am a primary school teacher and for years I have shared books with her and bought any book that she showed the slightest interest in hoping that she would want to read it, however this has never happened.  So when she asked about your books, I had that same feeling of here we go again, I’ll waste some more money on a book that will simply sit on a shelf, but bought Combat Zone for her anyway.

In a bit of a mood the next day, xxxx took herself to her room and after about an hour I went looking for her, only to find her lying in bed reading her new book.  She didn’t come out of her room until it was finished.

I cried that day because it was the very first time she has voluntarily read a book, I have NEVER known her to read a whole book, let alone a whole book in one day. I was so proud of her and instead of that being enough she asked for another one too.  She is now reading Surface to Air.

Words can’t really express how I felt that day but I really just wanted to say a massive thank you for your books and for giving xxxx her first experience of a book being something to enjoy.

Thank you.

 

Hi Tom.

This is on behalf of my 10 year old son, xxxxx.  He is dyslexic and an avid rugby player, turning out for Blaydon RFC under 11s every week and is a massive fan of Newcastle Falcons.  Your books have formed a real connection with Jamie and, indeed, Scrum was the first big book that he had ever managed to read.  His teacher at the time was a massive influence and has done so much work to help Jamie along on his reading journey. As a thank you he presented his teacher with his copy of Scrum as an end of year gift.

Cheers!

 

There are a lot of things to enjoy about being a published children’s writer: but the biggest buzz is emails like these.

They often come late at night, when I check my email for the last time on my phone, before sleep.

When they arrive I think of the parent that has done a good day’s parenting and are now taking the time to  tell me something really important.

I love it. And I will take some of the credit.

However, the real credit for what my books and many other authors’ books have done, should go to Barrington Stoke, who publish all their books in dyslexia friendly format. That is the game changer. The research that Barrington Stoke have done – and the work that they do.

Credit too – this Dyslexia Awareness Week – to parents who support their children when they are struggling with reading. And the librarians and teachers and booksellers who guide them.

This week it is Dyslexia Awareness week. This is what it means to me.

Find out more about my books that feature dyslexia and about Barrington Stoke here.

 

A Roman amphitheatre… in London!

The book I am writing this month is about two children from today who have an encounter with Roman London.

That was something I needed to research properly. So I decided to do what schools do: go on a trip. To visit the Museum of London and the nearby ruins of London’s amphitheatre.

A Roman Amphitheatre is a stadium that was used for gladiators fights and also where animals were released where they fought to the death. Not a nice place. But that was what people liked to watch in stadiums 2000 years ago.

There is one in London. Underneath the Guildhall Museum.

These days we like to watch sport like athletics, football and rugby. That is what my story is about. A modern stadium and an ancient amphitheatre. It’s going to be called Dark Arena and the action includes settings of a modern football stadium and the amphitheatre ruins that I mentioned above.

This is a short video I made during my visit, so you can see what is there: https://youtu.be/3YzGrQyBYyk

There’s nothing like going a place to see what it was like. To take in whatever your senses have thrown at them. Also, to try to think what your characters were thinking.

Setting a story in an Iron Age Fort

This summer I visited an Iron Age fort in Cornwall. I wanted to find out what one might look like. And I had a good reason: I am going to write a book set on an Iron Age fort.

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This is Castle an Dinas at Columb St Major in Cornwall.

You might not think it looks much like a fort, but it was built roughly 4000 years ago, so it is going to have weathered a bit. That’s because it was built out of ramparts of soil and with wooden posts along the tops. All the wooden posts have rotted away now, but the three rings of ditches and raised ramparts are still really visible. You can see if from above here:

Visiting a place like this is realy important to help me get a story right. By going there I found out it was huge. The middle section is as big as a football pitch. I also saw that a farmer uses it to graze his or her sheep on. Who would have thought an ancient monument would be covered in sheep? But, actually it’s a good idea. What better way to keep the grass short? It would be quite hard to mow.

When I got home I had a look at a book I have about the Iron Age. I’ve made a short video about the book and how it helped me. You can watch that here:

This autumn I am going to visit more historic sites to explain how it helps me to write. To find out more you could read this blog: http://tompalmer.co.uk/researching-and-writing-ks2-history-stories-this-autumn.

Thanks for reading.

Researching and writing KS2 history stories this autumn

This autumn I will write three short novels for children. They will be a blend of football, ghost fear and history. KS2 history to be precise. To be published by Barrington Stoke in 2017.

The very rough idea is that a girl (Nadiya) and boy (Seth) discover football-related hauntings and have to use their knowledge of KS2 history to stop the hauntings causing havoc in local communities.

The three periods covered in the trilogy will be the Iron Age, the Romans and the Anglo Saxons/Vikings.

 

This all means lots of research around those subjects. And planning. Which is good. I get around the country a lot visiting schools. I love research. And I love planning.

Now – informed by this awesome map – I will be dropping in on some amazing historical sites to help me do just that.

For instance, as you can see below, last week I went to a massive Iron Age fort in Cornwall. (More about this in the next blog.)

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I am hoping to do some short films from some of the sites. Also, if schools want to comment on my research and planning, I’d be delighted. I will be covering Iron Age, Romans, Saxons and Vikings from now until December.

Thanks for reading.

 

Somme Centenary in Schools

This Friday – July 1st – sees the centenary anniversary of the Battle of the Somme. It will be covered live on the BBC on the day, during school time. You can read about the BBC’s schedule here.

I have been working with the National Literacy Trust and Barrington Stoke to create a range of resources for schools to use to help today’s children get their heads round what happened in France one hundred years ago.

I’ve done it because I have a book out about a group of footballers who fought at the Battle of the Somme, called Over the Line. But also because I think it is important for children today to know about the bloodiest battle of the First World War.

OTL-new cover

You can access the following resources via the links below:

 

Live Somme-based story

Over the last fortnight I have been writing a daily story ‘live’ on the National Literacy Trust website. It is partly about Euro 2016 and partly about the centenary of the Battle of the Somme. In its third and final week, beginning on Monday 27th June, the characters, who are year seven children, will be going on a Battlefield Tour of the Somme area with their schools, visiting war graves, battle sites and the official centenary commemoration at Thiepval. I have talked with three schools who have been on Battlefield Tours recently to try my best to get it right.

http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/resources/practical_resources_info/7175_over_the_line_2016

 

Videos from major Battle of the Somme sites

After finishing Over the Line, I revisited the settings of the book to talk about how each place had impacted my writing. Those settings include the English Channel, a soldier footballer’s grave, the Footballers’ Battalion official memorial and Delville Wood. They are also settings featured in this week’s live story.

http://tompalmer.co.uk/first-world-war-literacy-resources/

 

Toolkit of School Resources

Our EURO 2016 toolkit also includes ideas for Somme related classroom displays, activities and assemblies to mark Centenary. It was published by the National Literacy Trust in May.

http://www.literacytrust.org.uk/resources/practical_resources_info/7174_euro_2016_and_battle_of_the_somme_literacy_toolkit

 

Other free resources relating to Over the Line

You can access free posters relating to the book here, as well as a discussion guide to the main themes and short classroom play scripts drawn from the novel. You can find all these resources at www.readingwar.co.uk or via http://tompalmer.co.uk/first-world-war-literacy-resources.

 

I hope these resources are useful. Thanks for reading.