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New series of Welsh children’s books hailed as ‘game changing’

10 Mar 2024 3 minute read
Active Antics in the Tom the Lion series

A new series of five books, available in both Welsh and English, is being hailed as “game changing” for children who may be experiencing anxiety or other problems with socialising.

A huge hit when trialled in schools across three Welsh counties, the Tom the Lion books follow Tom and his squirrel friends Hazel and Sid, and are designed to promote literacy, wellbeing, and good mental health.

Author and creator John Likeman has 20 years’ classroom experience and has also worked as a lecturer in Education for the University of Wales and as a consultant for the Welsh Government.

He was made a Fellow of Oxford University in 2015 and is well regarded for his work on developing digital solutions for classroom wellbeing through his company Raven Technologies Ltd, which also funds university research into wellbeing.

Sleeping Lions

“The idea behind Tom the Lion comes from remembering the effect that playing Sleeping Lions had on me as a child,” he said.

“I used to look forward to this moment of peace all week.

“Years later, as a teacher, I made opportunities for my pupils to find their moments of peace each day – and the children loved the Sleeping Lions moments too.

“After 20 years of teaching, I went on to develop biometric systems and software with Raven Technologies Ltd., which enable anxious children to find calm.

“The books in the Tom the Lion series were thoroughly trialled in schools in Swansea, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire.

“Pupils and teachers love the aspirational text. The pupils connected with the characters and the stories facilitated pupil discussions about their own wellbeing.”

Challenging subjects

The five books in the series deal with challenging subjects, such as peace, loneliness and empathy.

Each story in the series is based around one of the New Economics Foundation (NEF)’s ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’: connecting, keeping learning, being active, taking notice and giving.

The illustrations have been designed to soften the message of the series and make it more accessible and easier for young people to understand by the award-winning Cloth Cat studios in Cardiff.

The series is available in Welsh (Twm y Llew) as well as in English, with a QR code in every book that links to a dedicated website with a free audio book – a bonus for children with reading issues, who will benefit from listening to the stories as they follow in the books.

“There are plans to develop Tom the Lion into an animated series, and we want to add further titles to the book series,” Mr Likeman said

The Tom the Lion series by John Likeman (£4.99 each or £20 for the full set, Y Lolfa) is available now.

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