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


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 the child’s name (this will not be published and will be kept in full confidence)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:

10 free resources for schools to use to mark the D-Day 75th this summer term

On 6th June this year countries across the world will be commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day, one of the most significant days in the history of Europe and the world, which marked the beginning of the end for Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime.

My new book – D-Day Dog – is about a boy who goes on a school trip to Normandy to find out about D-Day and to challenge his own ideas about war. It is also about the rights and wrong about using animals in war and is based around the true story of a dog that parachuted into the conflict on 6th June 1944.

I have created a range of resources that teachers can use in schools to work with – or without – the book to help children understand this enormously significant date. You can find them all at

“An amazing exploration of war, both past and present, which answers difficult questions about why soldiers choose to fight and die. Stories from World War 2, the Falklands and the current conflict in Syria are woven together in this sensitive little book.Aidan Severs, That Boy Can Teach

I have made four short videos set at key D-Day sites in Normandy that are also settings in the book. Making the films at Omaha Beach, a statue of Dwight Eisenhower, Ranville Cemetery and in the open countryside of Normandy where many paratroopers dropped in ahead of the beach landings. Coming by 26 April.

Free posters and bookmarks that I can post out to schools for free – or that you can download.

I’ve written a guide to local and national activities that are going on to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day during the first few days of June. It is being hosted by the excellent, also known as @MrEPrimary. Coming soon.

An activity for the D-Day 75th anniversary this June 6th. I have chosen some pages from D-Day Dog that you can download and print for free, then invite the children to create their own D-Day blackout poetry. Includes instructions for teachers, examples and a signed certificate for any children who complete the challenge.

While visiting schools I will be using a PowerPoint I have made to talk about D-Day, how animals are used in war and what inspires me to write books like this. You can download it for free here, whether I am coming into your school or not. Coming soon.

I am doing some public events during the spring/summer where I would love to meet readers, dog-lovers and history fans. In Halifax, London, Shrewsbury, Holmfirth, Edinburgh so far, but there may be more. Check out the Meet Me page on my website for full details.

I’ve made some book cover predictions sheets for the classroom, where children can work out what they think might happen in the book based on Tom Clohsey Cole’s brilliant jacket design for D-Day Dog.

Check out the D-Day Dog webpage for ideas about the rights and wrongs of using animals in war. The book features a boy whose love of war is challenged when he finds out that dogs were used and killed during the Second World War and other wars.

Download a document that includes ten questions to help children talk and think about war. Is it ever right to wage war? Should animals be used in war? This is aimed at Y5 to Y8 and should be used with teachers’ discretion.

Use D-Day Dog as a class read during the 75th anniversary commemorations in early June. It’s a short novel at 20,000 words, suitable for Y5 to Y8. The anniversary coverage on TV should tie in well with the storyline about children trying to get their heads round such a significant historical event.

Thanks for reading. All the resources above are available free from Those not published yet will be up by end of April. Please feel free to share them among your colleagues and networks.

Many thanks.

Fairtrade Fiction

The first two weeks of this half-term it is Fairtrade Fortnight: a great opportunity to get children thinking about where they spend their money and the difference that choice can make other people’s lives.

In 2009 I wrote a book about a boy called Kofi, who – as well as being a gifted footballer – was the son of cocoa bean farmers in Ghana.

The book is called Off Side.

At the beginning of the Off Side, Kofi’s family were being cheated and not paid a fair amount for their beans. By the end they had become part of the Kuapa Kokoo co-operative which supplies chocolate manufacturers Divine.

I was very lucky, when in Ghana researching my novel, that Divine took me to meet some farmers and to a school paid for by our buying Fairtrade Chocolate. I have seen the results of the decision we can make to buy Fair Trade chocolate: children being well-schooled, learning to run their own businesses and families living in decent accommodation.

When I came home I worked with Divine Chocolate to produce a schools’ pack that should encourage children to think about the impact of buying Fair Trade products. It is free to download.
There is more information about my book, Off Side, which also looks at people trafficking, particularly the exploitation of young footballers from Africa.
Foul Play
And, if you would like to download the first chapter of the book for free, it is available here.
Fair Trade fortnight runs from 25th February to 10th March 2019.