Graduate Publishes Children’s Book to get Youngsters Active

Tom Oldaker with book
Graduate Tom Oldaker with his new children's book

Tom Oldaker, who graduated from the University of Worcester in 2022, said the book, which he has self-published, combines a story with instructions on imaginative play sessions.

“It was brilliant to see it brought to life,” said Tom, of Cradley Heath. “I never thought I would write a book. Just seeing it from an idea, going through the process of creating the illustrations and refining the story, to seeing it as a physical book has been really exciting.”

‘The Adventures of Alex the Pirate: Treasure Island’, features a story about a child who pretends he is a pirate and goes on an adventure. This then leads into the second half of the book, which allows children to act out the story through a series of structured sports games and activities. The games can be adapted depending on the number and age of the children and their ability. The idea is to encourage children to do physical activity by engaging them with a particular theme.

The self-published book is designed to be used in schools, by parents reading to their children one-to-one, or in sports coaching. Although the activities are based around football, they could be adapted easily to other sports. Tom says the book is for children aged from 18 months to six years old, but could be modified to be used with children aged up to 10.

Tom completed a Master’s in Sports Coaching at the University of Worcester in 2019 and went on to complete a PGCE in Secondary PE, graduating in 2022.

He then spent seven months in Bahrain working at a football coaching academy, then most recently worked for Birmingham City Football Club Community Trust as a sports lecturer and football coach for 16-19 year-olds.

Tom said his studies at the University of Worcester had helped him in his career journey. “I loved it,” he said. “My Master’s was very theory based, it was all about how we learn and constructions of learning. The PGCE was much more practical. The combination of both courses helped my understanding of learning and the learning process and that learning is not just in the classroom.”

The 39-year-old came up with the idea for a book through his career as a football coach. He would often have sessions that used games based on different themes like pirates or cowboys. But he found when he made sessions that had games themed around just one premise, children were much more invested. “That was more engaging to the children where they got to act out characters within the session,” he said. “I refined it to tell a story where the games mirrored the story. I’m an experienced coach so I know it works.” Over the years Tom refined the sessions to tell a story from start to finish and decided to produce the book, which took eight months.

If the book proves successful then Tom is planning more, with different themes. The book, published by Rowanvale Books, is available from most online retailers.