All posts by tompalmer

Tour de Leeds Libraries

Tour de Leeds Libraries

During the next two weeks I will be visiting all of Leeds’ thirty-six public libraries. By bike.

I am doing it because cycling is the big thing for kids in Leeds at the moment: the Tour de France starts in the city on July 5th and everyone is getting pretty excited about it.

Also, because I want the next big thing for kids to be libraries.

I’ll have half an hour in each library – four a day – to talk to a class of year three and four children, visiting from a local school. I’ll ask them if they use libraries and tell them about how Leeds Libraries changed my life. I am also going to read them a story I have written for the tour. About a girl who goes on a different adventure each time she borrows a library book. Which is kind of what libraries do.

There’s a full schedule of my tour on my website. It’s about 250 miles in all. The worst/best day is 40 miles. I’m a bit worried about that one, to be honest. I’m not a great cyclist. But I’ve done a bit of training. I should be okay.

The highlights – for me – will be Leeds Central Library and Oakwood Library. The places where libraries worked their magic. It’ll feel good returning to those. I wouldn’t be an author if it wasn’t for Leeds Libraries.

More importantly, I wouldn’t be a reader. I love reading. It makes me think. It makes me happy. It gives me something I can’t even put into words. I want to get that across. Somehow.

Tour de Leeds Libraries was organised with Leeds Schools Library Service and Leeds Libraries. It is funded by Leeds Inspired. There is a free resource of literacy activities to do with the Tour de France that libraries, schools and families across the UK might find useful.

I’ll be tweeting as I go, using the hashtag #TourDeLeedsLibraries.

Making a World Cup display that will promote reading in your school

Free Toolkit
Free Toolkit

The National Literacy Trust World Cup resource – Love Football: Love Reading 2014 – has a section about creating displays in schools. Displays that we hope will help get children reading for pleasure.

You can read the whole thing here.

But, if you want a quick introduction, the top five ideas for literacy-based World Cup displays in schools are:

ONE: World Cup reading selfies – children and adults showing off their favourite football reads from newspapers, magazines and websites.

TWO: World Cup goal – a 2D goal on the wall with ball-shaped review sheets for kids to stick in the back of the net. Or wide of the mark.

THREE: Free posters of children’s football authors saying what they’ll be reading to keep up to date with Brazil 2014.

FOUR: Teachers recommending their favourite football reads.

FIVE: A giant highly-ambitious World Cup wall chart that will dominate your school hall, reception or other space.

We hope these ideas are useful. More tomorrow.

Visiting the Somme


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.