Tom’s books aim to convert kids to reading ahead of world cup

Author Tom Palmer at The Shay Stadium, Halifax, with What's a Bear to Wear, the first of three Try Reading children's books for the rugby league world cup.
Author Tom Palmer at The Shay Stadium, Halifax, with What's a Bear to Wear, the first of three Try Reading children's books for the rugby league world cup.

An upper Calder Valley author is hoping his new series of rugby league books will encourage youngsters to try reading.

Tom Palmer, of Todmorden, has been commissioned to write three books in the run-up to the Rugby League World Cup later this year as part of the Try Reading campaign.

Tom has written the first book, titled “What’s a Bear to Wear?”, which tells the story of tournament mascot Grubber as he prepares for the big kick-off.

He is now embarking on a tour of libraries and schools around the country promoting the book and running workshops with children and families.

“I get to meet a lot of people who read the book and it’s great to get their feedback,” he said.

“I’m very interested in meeting the readers. I think that’s really helpful.

“It’s not just writing books in an ivory tower or a Todmorden terrace, it’s getting out there and meeting the people.

“I really enjoy that aspect of it.”

Tom has written numerous football books over the years, including the popular Foul Play series, but the transition to writing about a different sport was tricky at first.

“I have watched rugby league for many years but in some senses I’m a newcomer,” he said.

“I used to watch Hunslet when they played a Elland Road.

“And I used to watch Leeds when they had Garry Schofield and Ellery Hanley.

“It wasn’t a smooth transition from football to rugby. The technical stuff and rules of the game needed some research.

“I made sure that I showed the book to people in the game that I knew.

“I read it to children at a school. They went through it and spotted a couple of errors. They were great.”

Tom has finished the second boook and is currently researching for the final one in the series.

In the summer, he will be travelling around libraries in the North West with his rugby reading game. He does a quiz with the children and all who answer correctly have the chance to kick a penalty over the inflatable posts.

And when the world cup starts in October, he will be there to soak up the action.

“I’ll be going to a lot of games and meeting families and children, which is a great way to spread the word,” he said.

Try Reading is a new project for public libraries to celebrate and promote the Rugby League World Cup.

The project is funded by the National Lottery and Arts Council England.

A total of 150 events will take place in the months leading up to the tournament.