Jackie French

Redmond Barry Award 2015 citation

Jackie French is one of Australia’s best known authors and her children’s books especially have given many hours of pleasure to thousands of families. She is also described as “an historian, ecologist, dyslexic, and a passionate worker for literacy, the right of all children to be able to read, and the power of books.”

It is this passion that saw Jackie appointed as the Australian Children’s Laureate for 2014 and 2015, and Senior Australian of the Year for 2015. Her advocacy for reading and books and support for libraries spans many years and she believes strongly in the need for trained professionals to work with children in libraries and schools.

Jackie is generous with her time and experience and has been a supporter of children’s reading clubs and initiatives in Canberra public libraries and schools in particular. She was also an ambassador for the 2012 National Year of Reading.

Perhaps the best description of that experience, and Jackie’s service to the industry, is from her own words: “The Year of Reading has been exhausting, wonderful, inspiring and at least 106 subjective years, and there are still two months to go. I reckon almost every group in Australia, from CWA to View Clubs, RSL to libraries, schools to book clubs, has organised something. I've spoken to over 30,000 kids, 3,000 adults (not counting those who listen to the radio) and over 30 schools, seven literary festivals, five conferences, and haven't tried to count how many workshops I've given on books, why books aren't broccoli, or help for parents and kids with reading problems. There has also been an irregular stream of packages of books heading out to schools to help them celebrate. My voice is hoarse, the last pair of stockings laddered, and I've eaten through an entire lipstick. (One usually lasts me a decade). And in between I have even managed to write, rewrite, smile briefly at my husband and make biscuits, even in a post-festival zombie haze, and occasionally scratch a wombat's back. I wouldn't have missed it for quids.”

Jackie French is a tremendous advocate for libraries and library professionals and an outstanding recipient of the Redmond Barry Award.