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

10 ways schools can mark the Armistice Centenary this autumn

This coming November 11th will mark the centenary of the end of the First World War.

The Armistice.

There are several projects and events taking place nationwide and locally. Tom Palmer – whose new book Armistice Runner is set during the last days of the so-called Great War – has chosen ten that might work for you and your school.

Find out about Danny Boyle’s Pages of the Sea commission to mark the Armistice:

Watch Peter Jackson’s film about the Armistice, created and freely available for schools to use this autumn. Aimed at 11 to 14 year olds.

Visit a local war memorial with the children. Find a local historian via your library who may be able to give a short talk at the war memorial.

Search to hear interviews with men and women about their experience of the last days of the First World War.

Discover if you have one of the thought-provoking statues near your school.

Attend an Armistice Centenary in your local town or village. Many are listed here:

Look at the free resources for schools at

Go to your local archive or library to find out about First World War soldiers from your city.

Use Tom Palmer’s Armistice Runner – and his free literacy resources – as a class read this autumn.

Ring bells on 11th November, joining millions of others worldwide as they mark one hundred years since the First World War ended.

I hope these ideas are useful. There are many more projects happening locally and nationally, so keep an eye out for more.

10 Free School Resources for the Armistice Centenary

Tom Palmer’s new book – Armistice Runner – is about a modern day runner who finds out from her grandmother, who is suffering from dementia, that her great-great-grandad was a trench runner during the last few days of the First World War.

Tom has created a range of resources for schools to use to help children understand the significance of this November’s centenary of the end of the First World War.

All the resources are free.


One. Videos of Tom talking about the Armistice centenary in significant First World War settings in France.

Two. Poster packs and signed Armistice Runner bookmarks for all your pupils, delivered to your school for free. Please email me via this website.

Three. ‘Be a Trench Runner’ game for the school hall, where children are challenged to memorise information and run, to imagine what it was like to be a trench runner.

Four. List of ten national and local opportunities that schools in the UK can take to mark the Armistice centenary this November. 

Five. A short non-fiction text explaining the Armistice in its First World War context. With a quiz based on the text.

Six. SPAG and comprehension worksheets based around the Armistice centenary.

Seven. Read Tom’s Books for Topics article about ten things to read about the Armistice this autumn. 

Eight. A look at how Armistice Runner developed from ideas in Tom Palmer’s notebook to the finished book. How a book is researched, planned, written, edited and published. 

Nine. News about public events where your pupils can meet Tom and hear about Armistice Runner this autumn.

Ten. Reviews of Armistice Runner from:

Book for Topics

That Boy Can Teach

Good Reads



You can find all the resources above at Some of the resources are not quite ready, but will be up there by the beginning of September. Feel free to contact Tom via this website if you need more information.


Advice on developing school resources around the Armistice centenary

I’d like to ask for some advice from teachers, please. My plan is to use that advice to help me develop some resources that will work for schools this autumn. Thank you in advance.

This September I have a book out called Armistice Runner. It is aimed at children aged 8 to 13.

It’s about a modern-day girl called Lily who is a cross country runner. Through reading his diaries, she finds out that her great- great-granddad was a champion cross country/fell runner in 1918 and that he went on to become a trench runner in the last days of the First World War, performing a dangerous mission during the last minutes of the conflict right up to 11 a.m.

The Armistice is a central theme of the book. It is published on 6th September, ten weeks before the centenary this November.

I am already working on materials that schools can use as they mark the centenary of the Armistice. There are videos of me talking from key Armistice sites in France already up. You can see them here:

I will be creating more resources that I hope will be useful in schools, based on some of the materials you can see on my Over the Line webpage: There you will find posters, stories, scripts, discussion questions and quizzes.

But is this what schools want?

I’d be very interested to hear what schools would like to help them work on the Armistice with their students. Your own ideas, but also things you have used in the past, particularly that are based around a novel to help children get their heads round a moment in history. I’ll be spending a lot of time working resources up over the summer, so your advice would be useful.

All the resources I create will be free to all schools – and anyone else – by the way.

One idea I have is that, if a schools uses Armistice Runner as a class read around the autumn, then I could offer a free half-hour Skype to that school.

What do you think?

Please email me any thoughts at And please, also, pass this on to any colleagues you know who might be able to help.

Many thanks.


During the World Cup I’ll be tweeting and blogging about ways that you can use the tournament to try to encourage children to want to read and write for pleasure. I’ve already created stories, resources and competitions that might work for you in schools, libraries and at home.

Please follow the #WorldCupReading hashtag and let me know what you’re up to, so that I can on to others too.

1  A free daily adventure story set in Russia, written as the events of the tournament play out. Available weekdays during the tournament from the National Literacy Trust website.

Writing Competition. Visit the Kickaround magazine’s website to enter a World Cup writing competition, with some tips from me.

3  A five-minute video from my YouTube channel – titled HOW TO BECOME A WORLD CUP EXPERT –  where I talk direct to children about how reading about the World Cup can up their game. [nearly ready]

4  Ten free World Cup writing exercises for the classroom:

SPAG worksheets based around my book Dead Ball, which is set during a major football tournament in Moscow.

Ideas from other schools and libraries about great World Cup reading displays, hosted on Pinterest:

7  A letter that your school can send home to parents, suggesting ideas about how they can support their child’s literacy through the World Cup:

8  I’ll be touring my World Cup Reading Game to 35 schools, libraries and book festivals during the tournament. Most of my events are in schools, but some for the public. You can find out when and where here:

Toolkit of many more ideas about how to use the World Cup to inspire reading in the classroom, school hall, playground and beyond.

10  Follow the #WorldCupReading hashtag where I’ll be blogging, writing and tweeting highlighting what other people are up to.

For more information about the above – and for even more resources – please visit  And please pass this on to anyone you think would like to read it.

Enjoy the World Cup.

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Top Ten books with World Cup Potential

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Why I put Syrian children in my last two books

My last two books published have featured Syrian child refugees who have made it to the UK to be taken in by families and communities.

I did this because I have been in several schools and communities that have children who are refugees from Syria (and other troubled places in the world) and heard their stories in the staff room at lunch time.

That – and reading books and articles about Syria today – motivated me to develop Yusra, Galip and Aylan as characters in my children’s books.

I did it, also, because I want children who are in all schools to be able to read about how we – in our relatively safe and stable country – can help people whose lives have been smashed to pieces and how we need to remember this country has a history of taking in and accepting refugees.

Gus the Fantastic Football Cat (Egmont, KS1) is about a Syrian girl and her dad who look after a rescue cat when they arrive in the UK from Syria. The parallel of the girl taken in by a UK community and her, in turn, taking a rescue cat in is the only thing about the story that relates to her background. The rest of the story is hopefully a lot lighter, as the cat reveals it can predict World Cup football results.

Image result for pitch invasion palmer

Pitch Invasion (Barrington Stoke, KS2) is a bit more direct. The story is about a haunted hillfort in Cornwall and a ghostbusting duo – Seth and Nadiya – who realise there is a parallel between the ghost of Iron Age refugees escaping the Romans by heading west and two Syrian boys – Galip and Aylan – who have recently been taken in by a Cornish family, after tragedy in Syria.

Both books would have worked well enough without introducing Yusra and Galip and Aylan. But, because they are being published last year and this, I think it works better that I did include them.