Wargaming Books in Schools Project

Readers of the latest copy of Miniature Wargamers may have noticed a small piece neatly secreted on page 44 where much of the following information can be found. Apologies if you think you’re seeing double!
My first contact with wargaming as a hobby came on my first week at senior school when I accidentally picked up a copy of Don Featherstone’s War Games Campaigns. I was absolutely amazed at what I had found and very fortunate that the school library had many of Don’s other wargaming books as well as those by other authors such as Terry Wise and Charles Grant. It was, of course, the start of a long and very happy relationship with the hobby: a hobby which is now both my chosen career and my primary leisure interest. It must therefore be said that I owe much to that chance encounter with a library book.
More recently, a couple of months ago in fact, I was having a conversation with a gentleman who works at a school in Wales who had been asked to form an historical wargaming club for the students. With the passage of time it is hardy surprising that the wargaming books of the 1960’s and 70’s have long since disappeared from school library shelves, and I was very conscious of the fact that any member of school staff undertaking such a worthy project would most likely be lacking much in the way of budget and support materials. Indeed there seem to be few books on wargaming which ever come to the attention of the general public in these days where the internet can mean that niche markets are often invisible to those who are not “in the know”.
However, one recently published book does seem to me to fit the bill in that it is a fantastic guide for a newcomer to the hobby, but also a great resource for the more established wargamer. This book is, of course, The Wargaming Compendium by Henry Hyde. I donated a copy of Henry’s book to the school in Wales as I felt that it was a venture well worth supporting. And that got me thinking.
There must be similar schools across the UK where such projects are being run or are being considered. It seems to me that with all of the hard work being put in by volunteers it would be an excellent opportunity for those of us who feel a debt of gratitude to our school wargames clubs and libraries to repay that by donating a copy of the Wargaming Compendium to schools who are in need. I have decided that to launch the project I am happy to donate a dozen copies to schools who get in contact with me to let me know about their historical wargames club. After that it is my hope that by acting as a link I can continue to be contacted by schools and donors in order to get more wargaming books into more schools.
So, how will it work? Well, this piece and that in Miniature Wargames (and we hope other hobby magazines in the near future) is the first step. If you are a teacher or a member of school staff who is running such a club then you need to get in contact with me. All you need to do is tell us a bit about the historical wargaming that is going on at your school. We can then wok with you to make sure that your school library is happy to receive such a donation and then we can get the book to your school librarian and onto the shelves.
If you are a willing donor who would like to do something to help historical wargaming in schools then please do get in contact with me. At this stage we don’t want anything other than an indication that you are willing to donate when we find you a school in need. At that point we will contact you again and ask you to make a donation. We will then arrange for the book to be delivered and deal with all ancillary issues such as postage and packaging. It’s a very simple process.
What is worth noting at this point is that we have no idea what level of uptake we’ll get from schools or from donors. It will, we hope, allow us to get an appreciation of what is happening around schools and then respond to that in an appropriate way. We certainly hope that seeing historical wargaming alive and well in the education sector will encourage new clubs to form in the future.
Thus far I have been asked a few questions which I feel are pertinent and worth addressing here.
What does it cost to get a book to a school?: Pen & Sword have very kindly undertaken to provide us with the book for £21. That’s it. No hidden costs.
How do I contact you?: Well, presumably you have access to email as you are reading this. If so please email me at toofatlardies@yahoo.co.uk
Are TooFatLardies making a profit from this?: No, quite the reverse. This is about assisting the growth and development of historical wargaming through a charitable act. No profit to be seen.
Does this involve Commercial Sponsorship?: No. This is not about TooFatLardies or any other business. The book will be pristine and unblemished by advertising inserts or similar.
Is this project international?: We would very much like to see that as a goal. At present the pilot scheme is limited to the United Kingdom. We’ve got to start somewhere! As time progresses we hope that we can recruit volunteers from around the world to undertake a similar role in their home country or continent.
What sort of schools can apply?: Ones where there are students doing historical wargaming.
What constitutes historical wargaming – in other words does this exclude clubs covering fantasy gaming?: Historical wargaming is where the periods being gamed are based on real warfare which actually happened in the history of the world. Whether that is Ancients, Napoleonics or Modern doesn’t matter. Your club can have a fantasy gaming element, but we would want to know that historical wargaming makes up a significant part of your activities.
That’s it in a nutshell. If you’d like more information or have any further questions then do get in touch. We can add to the list of FAQs here if we get anything pertinent that needs adding.
As a final issue, I should mention that I am hoping to get this project named in honour of a late friend of mine, Dr Paddy Griffith, who spent his life using wargaming for educational purposes. I believe it would be a fitting tribute to a great educator and wargamer. But more on that later.


13 thoughts on “Wargaming Books in Schools Project”

  1. Wonderful initiative, Rich. I hope it’s really successful
    I cannot see this working in a country like mine where hobby fans will be suspiciously rearded as pro-fascists militarists at worst or a bunch of non-grown ups adults playing with toy soldiers at best.

  2. Dear Richard.
    Great idea. I have just started a club for year 6s at the school I’m currently working with.
    I have started them with 10mm fantasy, but using Hail Caesar rules (as they all know the fantasy GW stuff already) then in a few weeks intend to introduce them to ancients and and then 19th century and Moderns after that.
    Good luck with the project.
    Will Denham

  3. Excellent idea. I ran a school club for 32 years until the relentless pressure for exam results squashed all the time out of the day. After all, for sanity’s sake I had to have time to pursue my own interests in the hobby.

  4. The Lardies rock! This is a wonderful idea, for many reasons. The librarians at our school are always looking for ways to hook kids into books, and as the adviser of a gaming club, I’m always looking for ways for the students to take the initiative in designing scenarios and leading the games themselves.
    I’m counting the minutes until this initiative goes international. Until then, I may just have to donate some of my old gaming books myself.

  5. Keep up the good work Rich, its a great idea.
    Perhaps not exclude clubs with a fantasy/sci-fi bias though as they would probably be the perfect kids to try historical wargaming if inspired by the book?

  6. Great idea Rich, I have run a club at my school in Australia and am giving it another go. I just hope that in this Web based world that the book is still used. Oh bought henry’s book for $90.00 in Australia and really enjoy it. Heartily recommended, your idea and the book.

  7. Excellent notion. When I was a wee lad of 10-12 there was a guy who used to bring Airfix figures around to the public libraries, teach us kids how to paint them in a rudimentary fashion, and then show us how to make wargames out of the result. I forget his name, but that guy always impressed me. Decades later, I do something similar– I run a Summer gaming camp for kids with a heavy emphasis on miniatures. I figure this generation needs more guys like that nameless proselytizer of wargaming back in the day. Excellent work, Rich.. A nice way to plant the seed.

  8. Rubbish go here get free rules and give the kids dice .
    there are families going to food banks and schools facing more and more cuts ,but hey why not put MONEY IN A VERY FEW PEOPLES POCKETS .
    this can be done for free and prob has been by teachers who are also wargamers over the years .don’t try and tart it up with “hey wargaming right ”
    with this bs wargaming has truly turned the corner into “hey lets just blag lots of cash off the back of wargaming ” this is the best you could come up with ,while people are being forced to work in asda and the like for next to nothing and schools are going down the pan lol like the rest of the uk .
    £21 or free didn’t see anything about Henry dropping his cut .

    1. Well Mr Kearney, some very thought provoking points you make there. Here are a few in return.
      1. Rather than seeing this as putting money in very few peoples’ pockets, I prefer to see it as putting books in libraries which can be used by a VERY LARGE NUMBER OF YOUNG PEOPLE.
      2. The free wargames rules web site you suggest is an excellent resource. However, it doesn’t replace the presence of a book dedicated to wargaming in the school library. The two can be entirely complimentary.
      3. You say “blag a lot of cash”. I am personally donating a dozen books for which I am paying cash. I am not blagging cash, quite the reverse. Nobody who is involved with this or who has volunteered, kindly, to donate books, is blagging anything.
      4. Have you considered some kind of anger management therapy? You are clearly very bitter about something.

  9. Well put Richard. Some people are against the success of others hard work. By “success” I don’t mean monetary, I mean the good feeling that comes from hard work, on work worth doing. I am enjoying Henry’s book and will be contacting you to purchase a couple to deliver to school Libraries where I grew up.
    Thanks for this great project. Certainly one of the better ones I have heard lately! Besides of course, “I think should we have another beer.”

  10. Sounds like an absolutely excellent idea to me. Sadley I suspect that for many kids these days their last experience of a real physical Library will be in school. The internet is fabulous, but I still think books can inspire and entertain better than any electronic format.

  11. I find it wonderfully ironic that of all the comments, Mr Kearney’s post has by far the most grammar and spelling errors. Perhaps if he had been given the opportunity to read a few books in his youth, he might be perhaps able to string together a few words a bit more coherently.
    Cheers on a wonderful initiative Rich! I was just thinking the other day when my son and I were playing a simplified “Warmachine” (he’s ten and likes large fighty robots) how he was forced to do a lot of mathematical addition in his head…and didn’t even complain about it, unlike his math homework!

  12. Pingback: Too Fat Lardies: Wargaming Books in School Project | Meeples & Miniatures

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