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

Virtual Visits in Lockdown

I had dozens of school author visits lined up for the spring and summer. Most were cancelled or postponed overnight. As had to happen. Three days after school changes were announced, I had a call from a headteacher I work with a lot.

We’re budgeted to pay you to work with us and we’d like to honour that, he said.

Then a couple of days after that I had another call from a school. Both wanted virtual author visits. I was thrilled. And grateful.

I’ve been doing virtual author visits in schools for a while now. One or two a month. Easy going. Normally, I’ll chat to a classroom full of children for half-an-hour. And I love it. It was a fun addition to my main jobs of writing books and visiting schools.

But now – in world suffering Covid-19 – I had to step things up to another level. I had to use more platforms and be more innovative with what I offered.

Here’s a summary of some of the things I’ve been involved with since making that decision:

Dixons Academy, Bradford. I’ve been working with year five on story modelling, showing them – in a series of twenty-minute videos – how I research, plan, start and edit a story based in their area. Children are feeding back to help direct what happens in subsequent films.

Cotmanhay Junior, Derbyshire. The headteacher and I are co-writing a story in ten parts set on the estate where most of the school’s students come from. One ten-minute read is posted weekly as text and as a short film read by one of the school’s teachers. The story is called This Book is For You and is about a boy who hates reading – at the beginning.

Tabuk School, Saudi Arabia. Tabuk set up a school writing competition with me acting as the judge. The children sent their stories to me via their teacher and I created a twenty-minute awards video announcing the winners giving back constructive criticism  on every story in the competition.

Kirkstall Valley Primary School, Leeds. Fifteen reluctant readers – but football fans – have been given signed copies of one of my books. They’ll read the book by a certain dates, then the head teacher and I will host a Zoom reading group with the children. The children will keep their book.

That’s four direct author-to-school models I’ve been involved with so far.

I’ve also done two Facebook Live sessions open to the public, but joined in by several schools. One on football stories, the other on the Second World War in fiction.

I’ve also written:

A five-part story commemorating the Battle of Britain 80th anniversary with the RAF Museums where I am Children’s Author in Residence. With reading comprehensions for each chapter.

An eight-part Roy of the Rovers How to Write about Football toolkit

And a teacher training/reading group on Zoom.

The above are just some examples of what I can do. But I’d be very happy to work with schools on bespoke ideas for all, or some, of your pupils.

And I know there are many many other authors out there who would like to work with schools in whatever way would work for you.

If you want some ready-to-go resources there are loads of free activities on my website relating to reading and writing sport and history. You can find them here:

My virtual visits page is here: Feel free to get in touch to ask more questions.

Thank you for reading.

VE day 75th anniversary

The commemorations of VE Day’s 75th anniversary from 8 to 10 May have been rightfully postponed because of the Covid pandemic.

There will be no street parties but there are still lots of ways to mark the occasion at home and in the classroom.

And the good news is that this very important anniversary will – all being well – be revisited on 15th and 16th August, when organisers hope to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day and VJ Day together. You can follow their plans here:

My forthcoming book – After the War – features scenes set on VE Day, 8th May 1945. In England where communities celebrate the defeat of the Nazis and in Czechoslovakia where Jewish children are liberated from camps and ghettos by the Russians.

The publication of After the War has been postponed too. But I had already created some online VE Day resources that – even though the book is not available yet – families and schools can use.

A book cover prediction sheet. Look at the cover of After the War and answer questions about what you think the story might be about.


VE Day paper dolls. Work as a family to decorate paper dolls of the children of VE Day. Then put it up as bunting to help mark the 75th anniversary of their liberation.

VE Day comprehension. Read the section of the book where the children talk about their very different experiences of VE Day, then answer some questions.

VE Day Black Out poetry. Create your own black out poetry using a VE Day scene from After the War.


You can find all the resources above and read more about After the War and the research I did to find out about what happened to children in England and on the continent on and after VE Day by visiting

Check out our gallery of school responses to After the War here


You can pre-order the book at your local independent – or other – bookshop too. The independent bookselling hub – – is great for this.

Thanks for reading.


Free Roy of the Rovers book and online chat

On Thursday 23rd April (from 10 a.m. to midday) I will be hosting a chat on Facebook Live on here to talk about my first Roy of the Rovers book, Scouted.

You can download Scouted for free here from now until the day of the chat. There’s a free Roy of the Rovers comic book on there too.

We’ve made the book free so that children and adults can enjoy a Roy of the Rovers story now that most of you are not able to get into school. I thought it would be fun to have a morning answering questions and finding out what people think of the book.

I hope you can join us at on Thursday 23rd April (from 10 a.m. to midday)  on here.




For the past few years I have asked teachers, librarians and other adults to nominate children they think would benefit from the gift of a book for Christmas. My family and I would like to do the same for Christmas 2019.

Our idea is to work with teachers and librarians – who already do so much to engage children with the joys of reading and books – and give books to children who do not have any books at home; to children who need that one special book that could help engage them with a lifetime of reading for pleasure; or, to children who have had a difficult year at school or home and a book would be a boost for them.

Each book will be personally dedicated, signed, gift-wrapped and will come with a Christmas card from me. Those nominating can choose from any of my books for children.

If you’d like to nominate a child, please email the following information to by Saturday 30th November 2019:

  1. the child’s name (this will not be published and will be kept in full confidence)
  2. a short paragraph explaining why you are nominating that child
  3. your choice of book for them from one of the books listed at
  4. your name and school address (where I will send the book)

I am sorry, I cannot promise to send a book to every child nominated. I have set an upper limit of 50. But I do intend to send a personal Christmas card to each nominee and a poster pack for each school. My family and I will choose the recipients and have the books dispatched in the first week of December 2019.

Read Rugby – World cup 2019

The 2019 men’s Rugby Union World Cup is taking place – in Japan – this autumn.

If you are a sport-loving family, now is a good time to try to engage your children with reading for pleasure – through sport. Fiction. Non-fiction. Websites. Newspapers. Magazines. Whatever you choose, the Rugby World Cup can help. 

I am a children’s author who came to love reading through sport.
I now write sport fiction for a living. These are my ten top tips to encourage your sports mad children to read for pleasure.

1 Set the home page on your computer to a decent rugby website like or

2 Get your children on form for the year with one of the guides to playing the game. Know the Game: Rugby Union is a great book to start with. Ask if your local library stocks it.

3 Deliver a newspaper’s rugby supplement to your child’s room on Saturday or Sunday morning to get them used to reading previews, match reports and other articles.

4 Buy them a copy of one of the popular rugby magazines, Rugby World or The Rugby Paper.

5 Read together a child-friendly player-autobiography full of statistics, pictures and childhood stories. Check first that the content is appropriate for kids. A popular one is by Jonny Wilkinson.

6 Play one of the fantasy World Cup games running in newspapers, requiring a close eye on who is injured and who has been dropped from teams. Another reason to read the rugby pages.

7 Discover superb fiction in libraries and bookshops : Rugby Zombie by Dan Anthony, Rugby Spirit by Gerard Siggins Pride & Penalties by Chris Higgins and my Rugby Academy series.

8 Leave rugby newspaper articles and match reports in regular places like on the fridge door.

9 Check out the RFU’s free literacy resources at Check out the other home nations’ websites too:, and

10 Try reading more yourself. You’ll enjoy it and your children will want to join in too


Public events summer 2019

This summer holiday I am doing public events in Barnsley, Manchester, Edinburgh and London and would love to see some of you there. Here’s the full list:

Thursday 15 August, 10.30 a.m.       
Barnsley Library at the Lightbox
Football Reading Game with Tom Palmer
Details available HERE.

Saturday 17 & Sunday 18 August       
Imperial War Museum North, Manchester
Two events and workshops linked to the museum’s Sporting Stories weekend. Book signing and meet-and-greet in the museum shop.
Details and timings published HERE soon.

Tuesday 20 August,  7 p.m.     
Edinburgh Book Festival
Cracking the Reading Code with Alex Wheatle, Sally Gardner and Tom Palmer
Book for the event HERE.

Wednesday 21 August,  5.30 p.m.     
Edinburgh Book Festival
D-Day Dog. The story of a heroic parachuting dog, Glen, and his handler, Emile, who took part in the liberation of Europe 75 years ago.
Book for the event HERE.

Saturday 24 & Sunday 25 August
Imperial War Museum, London
Two events and workshops linked to the museum’s Sporting Stories weekend.
Book signing and meet-and-greet in the museum shop.
Details and timings published HERE soon.

I hope to see you at one of the events. Please feel free to email me if you need more information about the event.

Girls and Boys playing football in my books

My books are often suggested by teachers and librarians for reluctant readers, particularly boys who like football, for which I am truly grateful. As a reluctant reader myself at this age, those mentions are particularly welcome.

But as a father of a daughter – and as a result of meeting so many diverse pupils in the schools I visit – I always try to ensure my books have strong female characters too.  Not only because I want my books to appeal to girls, but because I want boys to read about  girls doing sport .

To celebrate the forthcoming Women’s World Cup, this blog highlights all the great girls I’ve enjoyed writing about in my books.

First Football Game

First Football Game joins a girl called Samantha, who is going to her first live football match with her dad. (4+)

Gus the Fantastic Football Cat is the story of Yusra, a Syrian refugee girl, whose cat appears to be able to predict England’s football results correctly. (5+)

Secret FC stars Lily, who leads her friends to create a secret football team after their head teacher bans the game in the playground. (6+)

Typhoon features two sisters, Maddie and Jess, who – whilst attending a football summer school – have to work together to fly the RAF’s Typhoon fighter plane to save a country from disaster. (7+)

Roy of the Rovers is about a boy called Roy. But it is also very much about Ffion and Rocky, his girlfriend and sister, both of whom play for an emerging football team. Their storylines – and team – take an increasingly large part of the Roy of the Rovers story in forthcoming books. (8+)

The Squad is a two-book series about five young spies – two girls and three boys – who cover their secret missions under the guise of being a touring football team. (9+)

Armistice Runner is Lily’s story.  She is a committed fell runner, not a footballer, but she’d be good at that too, given the chance. (9+)

There are also major female characters in my Defenders and Foul Play series, also.

It seems fitting to me that I should write this blog now that we are about to enjoy the women’s World Cup and that I am working with the Football Association and the National Literacy Trust not just to promote reading through football, but to encourage people to watch the games and get behind the England team.

You can find out more about Rocky of the Rovers: France 2019 – a story about two girls and a boy who travel to France to watch the Lionesses compete in this summer’s FIFA Women’s World Cup.  The story starts on 7th June 2019 but you can read the first chapter here

Things for schools and families to do to remember D-Day 75 years on

On June 6th we will be remembering the many brave men and women who were involved in D-Day, the daring invasion of Normandy when the Allies began the liberation of Europe from Nazi Germany.

There are several things happening locally and nationally that schools and families can do with to help their children understand those events of 75 years ago.

Here are some ideas of things you could engage with:

Watch the news. On 5th and 6th June there will be extensive news coverage of commemorative events in Portsmouth and Normandy, including the MV Boudicca sailing with 300 D-Day veterans from England to France on the same journey they made exactly 75 years before.

Get hold of a special edition £2 coin to mark the D-Day 75th anniversary, featuring a map of the D-Day landing beaches. Something for children to hold onto and remember and maybe give to their own children on the 100th anniversary of D-Day in June 2044?

Go to your local public library and check out some of the books about D-Day in the history section. Some books have amazing photographs in them and first-hand accounts. Most public libraries will have several books on the shelves about WW2 and D-Day.


Visit The D-Day Story, a fantastic museum in Portsmouth with a permanent exhibition that does a great job focussing the mind on the planning and actioning of D-Day. They’ll be hosting special events from 5th to 9th

Go online and search for D-Day links to where you live. The D-Day Story has an interactive map to help you do that: The Imperial War Museum’s amazing online collection allows you to search for images and recordings of the men and women who took part in D-Day and made it home to be able to tell their story:

Look out for films on TV, including The Longest DaySaving Private Ryan and Storming Juno. The TV series Band of Brothers starts with D-Day and is very powerful. There will be documentaries on TV too. But make sure what you are watching is age-appropriate.

From 1st to 9th June the Imperial War Museum will retell the extraordinary land, air and sea story through their Second World War collection and three historic sites, HMS Belfast, IWM Duxford and the Churchill War Rooms, which experienced first-hand the events of D-Day.

There will be events in towns and cities all over the UK.Some places will witness flypasts of significant aircraft. There will be parties. And many airmen, seamen and soldiers will be remembered in their home counties. Check out your local newspaper’s website for information.

Read Tom Palmer’s children’s book, D-Day Dog, about a boy who joins a school trip to Normandy where he finds out hard facts about the events of 6th June 1944.Use D-Day Dog as a class read. There are free videos, activities and other resources for schools at You can contact Tom for free posters and bookmarks for all your pupils too.

Some of you might be going to France for your summer holidays.If so, why not travel via Portsmouth and stop for an hour or two to visit some of the key D-Day historic sites and museums in Normandy. Visit the Normandy tourist information site for more details: