WEST ORANGE, NJ — West Orange resident Erica Brown Oliver recently published her first children’s book, “When I Grow Up…Just Imagine,” for elementary and middle school-aged children. The 264-page book provides 14 lifelong tips to help young readers find and pursue their passions, and features people who love their professions.
The resource also includes a profile page for the reader, blank profession templates for the reader to conduct his or her own interviews, special sections and more.
“Watching my children, as early as 5 years old, get asked the question ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ made me flash back to my own childhood, being asked the very same question at such a young age,” said Oliver. “That is when the book idea came to me and it became my passion project. I wanted to let children know that they shouldn’t feel the pressure in elementary nor middle school, as they haven’t even been exposed to the vast amount of professions out there yet.”
Oliver said her idea was to give children exposure to as many professions as possible early on, so that they could be aware of how many careers there are. She wanted to inspire children to tune into their passions, and if they found something they were passionate about, to take the steps to pursue it. As she believes, “if you love what you do for a living, it doesn’t feel like work.”
When Oliver reached out to friends to ask whether they would be willing to share their professions with young readers, she said their responses were overwhelmingly positive response, and her interviews began.
“When I Grow Up…Just Imagine” features people in various professions across the country—from accountants, educators, engineers and entrepreneurs, to physicians, producers and more. It also includes information about industries from the arts and entertainment to law enforcement, retail, science, technology and beyond.
It is written for those between the ages of seven and 13, but Oliver said people of all ages will gain more knowledge through her book, and that the 14 lifelong tips (including leadership and volunteering) are concepts the child can carry with them through adulthood.
“It’s a coffee table book for kids,” said Oliver. “Something I hope they will refer to often as they are growing up.”
Oliver included her own children in the book process. Her daughter, Madison Michelle Oliver, is the editor, and her son, Brendan David Oliver, is the Illustrator.
“When I Grow Up…Just Imagine” is available from Amazon and other retail outlets.