Australia Day Awards!

What a great pleasure to be skimming through the Australia Day Awards to find the names of 4 amazing Australians involved in creating children’s books and promoting literacy. Applause to Geraldine Brooks, Jackie French, Ann James and Ann Haddon!

calebGeraldine Brooks (AO)

Geraldine is an author who began a career as a journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald. However, she is perhaps more well known for her historical novels and non-fiction writing, having won the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 2006 for her second novel, March. Other books which followed, have received a popular following on best seller lists, and translations into many different languages for a world-wide audience.

Though she now lives in the United States, Geraldine has her roots here; having grown up in the Western suburbs, and attending Sydney University. As a journalist visiting the outback, she was exposed to indigenous children with a great hunger for reading; and this translated to her becoming one of the first ambassadors for the Indigenous Literacy Foundation. As an author, she has also been one to share with, and inspire young writers, during school visits and writing workshops.

Her aims are clear – to encourage literacy and creativity:

“I tell them to be adventurous and unafraid, to do everything and explore every opportunity, because if it doesn’t work out, then sod it, do something else. The beauty of a writing life is there’s no one way into it.

“In all my roles I’ve tried to be open to the world and willing to receive what it has to offer in terms of diversity of thought, and at the same time I’ve tried to advance some of the very great ideas that Australia, at its best, embodies.”


Jackie French (AM) is also well-known to all, and was awarded this year in recognition of: significant service to literature as an author of children’s books, and as an advocate for improved youth literacy.

After being recognised as last year’s ‘Senior Australian of the Year’, Jackie’s star continues to shine – in recognition of her work towards promoting literacy; especially in her recent role as Australian Children’s Laureate.

As an author of more than 140 books, Jackie is not only a household name, but an authentic patron for anyone who has struggled to read and write. In her talks to children, parents and educators, she often recounts her early struggles with dyslexia, and admits those struggles still remain. Her own personal triumphs, in learning to read and write, drive her desire for ways to be found to improve the literacy of all children:

“It has inspired my work for literacy and teacher training … every child has a right to learn to read with the methods that best suit them.” Read more at:

Both Ann James (AM), author and illustrator of more than 60 children’s books, and Ann Haddon (AM), who has worked as a teacher librarian, have been actively involved in promoting children’s literature, and received an AM for significant service to children’s literature

After initially working as an arts and crafts teacher in Victoria, Ann James expanded her horizons into graphic design and book illustration. Her career in illustrating children’s books provides a rich legacy. Another great achievement came about when, with Ann Haddon, she co-founded the gallery, Books Illustrated. Their aim was to exhibit and promote the works of many outstanding Australian illustrators – and has included the likes of Terry Denton, Shaun Tan and Leigh Hobbs. Theirs was always a clever collaboration, as they explain on Books Illustrated:

A shared love of books, art and children inspired Ann James and Ann Haddon to establish Books Illustrated in 1988.
Together they have a unique view of the picture book industry, seen from many angles – librarian, bookseller, gallery director, writer and illustrator.

What a fabulous collection of talents! Thank you for your inspiration and enthusiasm, and congratulations to all of you, as we celebrate Australia Day.

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