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Reading War: a new literacy and learning site for WW1

Reading War

Today we are delighted to launch www.readingwar.co.uk, an online resource packed with information on World War 1. The site explores the themes of the novels Over the Line by Tom Palmer and Tilly’s Promise by Linda Newbery, covering topics including soldiers in the trenches, football and football battalions, nursing and the Home Front. The site is designed to be accessible to a range of children, with lots of video content and short, punchy stories, diaries and other specially-created reading materials. There are activities linked to the videos, and there are teachers’ guides, playscripts, downloadable posters and other materials suitable for use in the classroom.

Film Strip Layered TOM PALMER_edited-2

Video content on the site includes Tom Palmer visiting all significant settings from Over the Line and Linda Newbery discussing the means used to recruit men to the army (and on occasion boys too – did you know that over 250,000 underage boys joined the fighting?) There is also a chance to learn a popular trench song. Videos also give insight into what inspired Linda Newbery and Tom Palmer to write about WW1, and the methods they used to research the period. Both authors read the first chapter of their books on video.

Reading War offers teachers a range of activities for use in the classroom. Playscripts offer differentiated parts and aim to improve reading fluency and confidence, promote cooperative learning and encourage deeper engagement with the characters and themes of Over the Line. Budding artists can explore symbolism in a ‘Design your own WW1 embroidery’ activity inspired by the Tilly’s Promise cover, which is based on embroidered postcards popular during the war. Classroom discussion guides are available for both books and offer suggested discussion points for exploring elements of the author’s craft, plus ideas for exploring themes and for extension activities. Multiple-choice quizzes are available for each of the videos to help develop comprehension.

Letters and journal entries from soldiers in the trenches provide a new perspective and help students better understand the conditions of the soldiers, as well as difficulties of life back at home. Tom Palmer has even written a short story about a modern footballer going to war, allowing for an interesting discussion about footballers as role models in society, then and now.

2015 sees the anniversary of the Gallipoli Campaign and we plan to commemorate the anniversary with a tremendous novel, and further resources on Reading War. And from the summer of 2014 on, Tom Palmer will be blogging regularly on the site about WW1 in the news and ideas for capitalising on interest to promote literacy in the classroom.

Over the Line by Tom Palmer is a powerful first-person narrative of one young footballer’s experiences of World War One. Jack Cock scored England’s first international goal after the end of the war, and he did it as a veteran of the trenches. One of the first generation of pro footballers, Jack enlisted in the Footballer’s Battalion and went on to play in the Flanders Cup. But his footballing duties spared him nothing of the horror of the trenches, and he saw many of his teammates fall.

Tilly’s Promise by Linda Newbery centres on Tilly, a young nurse doing her best to help in the war effort. When she hears her brother Georgie must go to the front line in France she is devastated. Georgie isn’t like other boys his age – he has learning difficulties and doesn’t understand what the war means. Tilly asks her sweetheart Harry to keep Georgie safe. But they soon learn that the nature of war makes any promise hard to keep… A moving novel of little-known victims of the First World War.

Tilly's Promise by Linda Newbery and Over the Line by Tom Palmer

 Come on over to www.readingwar.co.uk for more!




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