Visit from award-winning author ignites a love of literacy in young readers

The library at Crompton House came alive with excitement on Wednesday 2nd February as Year 7 welcomed award-winning children’s author Tom Palmer.

A hugely popular name in the world of children’s fiction, Tom has written of over 50 acclaimed books, with both sporting and historical themes. Yet students were surprised to learn of Tom’s reluctance to read when he was at school, until his mum bought him a comic book about a topic he really loved – football. During his visit, Tom encouraged the youngsters to scour the library shelves for books on topics that appealed to them, to kick start their interest in literacy. Tom said:

“It’s amazing how reading can change the direction of a person’s life. I started reading ‘Roy of the Rovers’ comics as a child and now I’m the author of books of the same name. I wasn’t keen on reading when I was young and my mum was worried about me because I was struggling at school. She encouraged me to read about football in newspapers, magazines and books. Gradually I came to love books and I think it’s vitally important that young people read books that they are interested in to encourage reading for pleasure.”

Tom spent the afternoon talking to students about what inspires him to write, and the research and planning process behind some of his best known titles; Over the Line, Armistice Runner, After the War, D-Day Dog and Arctic Star. The books, inspired by the events of the world wars, are based on real life stories, with one, ‘After The War’ featuring the topic of the Holocaust – a theme covered in school during recent commemorations for Holocaust Memorial Day.

As Tom spoke, a sea of hands spanned the room as students wanted to know the answers to questions such as; how long it takes Tom to write a book, which of his titles he would like to see made into a movie, and how much do authors earn. Children were excited to meet Tom and have their books signed at the end of the day.

Student Jessica Greenwood, a member of the Crompton House Book Council, was delighted to take part in the visit. She said:

“Tom was really nice and I like the fact that he writes about subjects he is interested in, and that he cares about. I’ve got a signed copy of ‘After the War’ and I can’t wait to start reading it. It was interesting to hear Tom tell us how he researched the characters and spent time with real Holocaust survivors to understand more about their lives.”

Claire Cullen, Learning Zone Manager, who organised the visit said:

“It is hugely inspirational for our learners to meet an author like Tom in real life – an opportunity we are even more grateful for after lockdown. It was such an exciting day. Tom’s visit is one of a number of literacy projects we have running at Crompton House, including our ‘Drop Everything and Read’ initiative where staff and students across the whole school take 10 minutes in the day to immerse themselves in a book.” 

Darren Pacey, Assistant Headteacher and Curriculum Team Leader for English and Media said:

“Crompton House School understands that reading is vital in ensuring our students have the best possible life chances. We were delighted to welcome Tom Palmer to inspire our students to continue their own reading journeys.”

Following the visit, Tom said:

“It’s clear to see the level of commitment and care the staff at Crompton House provide, which in turn encourages young people to develop a love of reading for pleasure. It was a great afternoon.”

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