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Kick off Euro 2016 and commemorate the Battle of the Somme with literacy toolkit to boost pupils’ love of reading

12 May 2016

As football fever grasps the nation for Euro 2016, the National Literacy Trust and popular children’s author Tom Palmer have developed a unique literacy toolkit for schools.

Supported by the Football Association, the free resource blends the upcoming football tournament in France with the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, which began in the same country 100 years ago. A live story will also be written during Euro 2016, with a Somme-themed storyline that responds to the action on the pitch. 

The toolkit features ideas, activities and resources that schools and libraries can use to inspire football-loving pupils aged 7 to 13 to enjoy reading and writing, while engaging them in an important historical event. 

Supported by footballer, children’s author and National Literacy Trust ambassador Frank Lampard OBE, it draws attention to the many footballers from the United Kingdom who went to France in 1916 to fight in one of the largest battles of World War I. This includes the men of the Footballers’ Battalion, which was set up at the beginning of the First World War to encourage football players and fans to volunteer to fight together.

For three weeks from  Monday 13 June, the National Literacy Trust will publish an original 16-chapter children’s story to be read aloud in schools, libraries and at home. Written by Tom Palmer, each daily chapter of Over the Line 2016 will be roughly 1,000 words (a 10-minute read) and will be published before 7:30am.

The story will follow Khalid and Grace, two young football fans who are studying the Battle of the Somme at school before a trip to the battlefields. Each chapter will respond to the events of the previous day at Euro 2016 in France - controversies on and off the pitch, key games, England, Northern Ireland and Wales’ results and the main stories that the media are covering from the tournament, as well as events marking the Somme centenary.

National Literacy Trust research shows there is a significant gap between the number of girls (61.2%) and boys (47.8%) who enjoy reading. The findings also reveal that half of girls (49.5%) read daily outside of school, compared to a third (36.0%) of boys. By focusing on the highlights of Euro 2016 as they happen, the resources aim to appeal to boys in particular and provide teachers, librarians and parents with a topical way to introduce reading for enjoyment.

In addition to the free toolkit and daily story, writing activities inspired by Euro 2016 and the Battle of the Somme centenary will be available to National Literacy Trust Network members each day.

Author, footballer and National Literacy Trust ambassador Frank Lampard says:

“Reading is an important part of my skill-set as a footballer and literacy skills are vital for children and young people to achieve their potential. I’d encourage teachers, librarians and parents across the UK to download the toolkit and read the daily stories, while they keep up with the home nations’ progress in France.”

Karl Lines, ‎National Children & Young People Manager (12-16’s) at the Football Association says:

“The toolkit is a fantastic way to celebrate Euro 2016 and get behind England, while improving young people’s literacy skills and teaching them about the Battle of the Somme – a battle that many footballers fought in. The Football Association is delighted to be supporting this project and we hope it encourages many more pupils to enjoy reading and inspire their passion for football.”

Fiona Evans, Head of School Programmes at the National Literacy Trust says:

“Our Premier League Reading Stars programme has shown us just how powerful football can be in inspiring children to enjoy reading, which we know has a positive impact on their achievement. By combining the important historical anniversary of the Battle of the Somme with a major football tournament that will grasp the nation, we hope to create a new battalion of reading and writing fans.” 

Tom Palmer says:

"The marking of the Somme Centenary and the excitement around Euro 2016 - in the same month and country - are a great opportunity to promote reading and writing for pleasure and purpose to children. We hope the toolkit, story and writing activities will be useful for teachers and parents to engage children with reading, writing and reflecting on the past." 

Find out more at

Over the Line 2016 will be published before 7:30am every weekday morning from Monday 13 June to Monday 4 July 2016.



Tags: Children, Football, Premier League Reading Stars

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The National Literacy Trust is a registered charity no. 1116260 and a company limited by guarantee no. 5836486 registered in England and Wales and a registered charity in Scotland no. SC042944.
Registered address: 68 South Lambeth Road, London SW8 1RL.