WordSpace for Schools
7b St Michael’s Court, Warstone Parade East, The Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, B18 6NR
Inspire your literacy pupils
The Top 20 Football Books
Share these with your pupils and together we can get them loving literacy, and boost your literacy lesson engagement.
Ideas on how to use
Here is a list of ideas and starting points to explore the football booklist in a creative way. These can be done as class/group/pair or individual activities.
Ask your pupils to record a list of 10 questions you would like to ask one of the characters in your book. This can be a class, small group or pair task. Join up with a friend (or a bigger group) and see if you can answer them together as if you are the character. Be true to your chosen character; answer in their voice.
Choose a page or a short section from one of the books. Re-type it and leave out approximately 15 important words: for example, five verbs, five adjectives and five nouns. Give the sheet with the missing words to the pupils – they can work on their own or in groups/pairs. Ask them to fill in the missing words. Compare the class versions with the original book. Are any of the new words an improvement?
Ask your pupils to research 10 unusual facts about the World Cup – these can be about host countries, teams, players or even the cup itself. Share their findings with the class. Who has discovered the most surprising fact? Take a vote. Display a new World Cup fact in the classroom (or somewhere prominent in school) each day for the duration of the World Cup. Give the pupil who found the WCF a credit on the display.
Before you read the book, ask your pupils to look carefully at the front cover and read the blurb. They shouldn’t open the book yet. Then ask them to write down three things that they think will happen in the story. (This can be done orally with younger children.) Record and put away all the predications until the pupils have read or listened to the book. Take out the predictions and share them in small groups or as a class. How many guessed something that happened in the story? Did anyone come up with a better suggestion?
Choose a supporting character from one of the books. This can be a human or an animal – as long as it’s not the main character. Plan and write a short story where your chosen character is now the main character in the story. It doesn’t have to be about football – but it can be, if you want to be.
As a class, put together a collection of football jokes. These can be researched from books or made up by pupils/friends/teachers/parents. Collect at least 22 jokes – one for each school day during the World Cup. Send a joke per day to other classes in school, the head teacher or anyone else you nominate. You could make a specific time each day to do this and deliver the joke by hand. Jokes can be shared by reading aloud, posting on noticeboards or media screens, sent by email or text.
Re-work part of one of the stories as a playscript. Set it out like this:
A school cloakroom. Sam is alone kicking her sports bag moodily. Her friend Max comes in.
Max: What’s up?
Sam: (stops kicking her bag) I haven’t been picked for Thursday’s match …
Draw a section of one of the books as a comic strip or a graphic novel. Split the action into at least six frames or pictures. Include a sentence to set the scene at the top of each frame, pictures and speech bubbles. You won’t be able to include all the information from the novel, so you will have to choose the most important bits of action and dialogue.
Create an imaginary football team – it can be made up of characters, animals or people, real life people from your school or even celebrities (not necessarily footballers). Take a photo or print a photo from the internet, cut a picture from a magazine or draw a picture of your footballer. Then write a short biography (no more than 100 words) including their best ‘football’ moment. Give your fantasy team a name and display them in your classroom.
Compose a list of alternative things to do during the World Cup for people who don’t like football. Try and make it as exciting, unusual and funny as possible. You could make this list into a comic poem or a song.
Books for 0-5 Years
Football Fever (by Alan Durant)
“A useful book about families. Every boy's dream will be fulfilled in this wonderful book, about a completely football-obsessed boy called William. If you know someone with the football bug then this could be the book for him...” (www.lovereading4kids.co.uk)
Harry & Dinosaurs United (by Ian Whybrow)
“Fans of Harry and the dinosaurs will love this
brightly coloured offering as they form their own
football team. It’s got a reasonable story
accompanied by cracking art but perhaps most
of all the underlying theme of working together
allows them to accomplish their goal of beating an older and better team who play individually. A great book and one that will definitely keep the younger reader inspired for quite some time”. (Gareth Wilson, www.amazon.co.uk)
Books for 5-7 Years
Wonder Goal (by Michael Foreman)
“Brilliantly capturing the thrill of scoring a winning goal whether at schoolboy or international level, this is a book for all aspiring footballers to dream over. Michael Foreman’s stunning and atmospheric illustrations evoke football in general and the magic of the goal scoring moment in particular”. (www.lovereading4kids.co.uk)
Football Star (by Mina Javaherbin)
“A group of younger boys play football (with a rare quality ball, their prize possession) in their South African township. When bigger boys come to steal their ball, the boys avoid tragedy by hiding the best ball and letting the bigger boys steal a no-good ball. The moral – team up to beat the bullies”. (Tom Palmer, www.literacytrust.org.uk)
Jake Cake the Football Beast (by Michael Bond)
I think this book is great. The book is about a boy
called Jake who plays for his school football team.
He has a Bigfoot friend. (Child’s Review
Books for 8-11 Years
Cinderboy (by Laurence Anholt)
“A re-telling of the Cinderella story, where the ball is round and a football match is the ball... if that makes sense. Cinders is a downtrodden boy. His brothers (ugly) and nasty step dad get to go to the cup final. He doesn’t. Until he gets invited to play. Funny illustrations, a familiar story subverted and a simple but effective style make this one of the best young football novels around”. (Tom Palmer, www.literacytrust.org.uk)
Football Focus Rules of the Game (by Clive Gifford)
“My 10 year old grandson loves this. He plays in an under 11 team and this book is easy for him to dip into”. (Mrs. S D. Thwaites, www.amazon.co.uk)
Wicked World Cup (by Michael Colman)
“We have bought several of this series of books and our 7yr old loves them. Having read this book he can shame many older people who think they know about football. The book is done in a fun and factual format. If you have a youngster who is into football in any way these books are the ones to go for”. (Stuart Millar, www.amazon.co.uk)
The Hat Trick (by Terry Deary)
“There are lots of football stories about teams being 2-0 down and someone coming on to score a hat trick. But this one is different. There’s a twist in the tail that makes the book well worth reading. It is a short read and is well illustrated. The highlights are the dad character, leading to a great father-child relationship. (Tom Palmer www.literacytrust.org.uk)
The Beautiful Game: (by Narinder Dhami)
“This book is awesome! I loved every bit I would recommend this book to people aged between 9 and 14”. (Cherry, www.clubs-kids.scholastic.co.uk)
Cool (by Michael Morpurgo)
“Cool! Is one of the most moving books I have ever read. It is about a boy called Robbie who gets hit unconscious by a car and is in a coma where he can hear but he can't do anything else. It has brilliant descriptive words and it tells you all Robbie's thoughts. People come and visit him and tell him to wake up, and he tries and tries but he can't! Even his favourite football player Zola can't wake him up. You keep on reading to the end to find out if he will ever come out of his coma”. (Powerchef, www.theguardian.com)
Fitter, Faster, Funnier Football (by Michael Cox)
“Plenty of fun facts here to keep football fans interested - all the questions they may have wanted to ask but didn't quite dare and some quite amazing facts. There are lots of fun quizzes. Could be a good book for non-fans who want to be able to talk to football fans about their favourite game. The book has an excellent index so the reader can easily refer back to it to answer questions”. (www.parentsintocuh.co.uk)
Girls FC: Do Shinpads Come in Pink
(by Helen Pielichaty)
“This book is easy reading for a 10 year old, brilliant for a girl who plays football. Great for a car journey or for reading before lights out at bedtime”. (Twindlelight, www.amazon.co.uk)
Own Goal (by Tom Palmer)
“This book gripped me throughout and there was never a boring moment. Constant suspense. A good variety of football and crime. Definitely worth reading”. (Polly Ross, www.amazon.co.uk)
The Funniest Football Joke Book Ever
(by Carl McKerney)
"There are plenty of giggles, making it worth checking out for football fans counting down the seconds to the World Cup." (Keith Dudhnath, www.TheBookBag.co.uk)
DK Eyewitness Football (by DK)
“As with all DK’s eyewitness books, this is
well-illustrated and has clear and concise
text. There are lots of facts about
football’s history, how to play the game
and the World Cup. There is also a very
useful CD containing free football clip art.
One for children who already know a bit
about the game”. (Tom Palmer, www.literacytrust.org.uk)
Books for 11+ Years
Keeper: One World Cup Two Worlds (by Mal Peet)
“I think this book is suitable for ages 7 and up. It is especially good for people interested in football and has surprises around every corner; I loved the surprises. This book is really interesting, helpful, and exciting. When the main character was being taught by the Keeper, I was also learning about football. The Author explains the settings so well that you can picture them in your brain, just like a movie. The characters come alive as they are explained wonderfully. This book reminds me of the movie Goal and Manchester United. I loved it! (Patrick (12), www.amazon.co.uk)
Come On Danny (by Andy Croft)
Full of emotion and understanding but written
in such a way that a struggling or reluctant
reader will devour, Come On Danny is a hard
hitting story describing the difficulties of
dealing with life when everything goes wrong.
Danny likes school and wants to do well. It
makes up for the sad things in his life – his
absent father, careless mother and the lack of money for anything. But then, even things at school begin to go wrong and Danny gives up until one day, his Dad turns up out of the blue. (Julia Eccleshare, www.lovereading4kids.co.uk)
Over the Line (by Tom Palmer)
“Football never dies – even during the darkest days of the First World War. Tom Palmer tells the true story of the Footballers’ Battalion. Accused of cowardice because they are out playing football instead of fighting, Jack and his friends sign up to fight – and to play football. They have been promised the excitement of a Cup but the boys have to survive all the horror of the fighting too. Best-selling Tom Palmer’s young heroes show their courage in the midst of the conflict”. (Julia Eccleshare, www.lovereading4kids.co.uk)
Match of Death (by James Riordan)
“The story of the WW2 Ukrainian team who
were forced to play the occupying Nazi’s in a
football game meant to show the dominance
of the Germans. All they had to do was lose. And, if they won, they would be shot. This is a story form the point of view of two young people, who, as well as being involved in this game, lose their parents and their home. Told by a man who knows his subject, as he once played professional football in the USSR. Very good”. (Tom Palmer, www.literacytrust.org.uk)
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Thank you for using the resource - I sincerely hope you’ve enjoyed it and your students have found it useful in their development as young authors.
7b St Michael’s Court, Warstone Parade East, The Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, B18 6NR