“There are many reasons why a child cannot read. There are no excuses.”

In November 2013, acclaimed children’s writer Jackie French was named the second Australian Children’s Laureate. She has written over 140 books for children, and is passionate about assisting those with learning difficulties, history and the environment. Jackie will be familiar to many Australian children, teachers and parents, as the recipient of several literary and children’s choice awards.

Australian Children's Laureate and acclaimed writer Jackie French

Australian Children’s Laureate and acclaimed writer Jackie French

As the Laureate, Jackie is a national ambassador for reading and has already started to act in a role as both a lobbyist and inspiration to the community.

Some of the aims that Jackie has articulated so far include:

“First, I wish to work for an acceptance throughout Australia that nothing – not a grassy oval, not an excursion to Canberra – is as important as ensuring that every child, in every school, learns to read. There are many reasons why a child cannot read. There are no excuses.

We have no greater educational responsibility than to make sure that every child can read. Let us share stories of a school that is fun. Let us share stories literally, with words on a page that every single one of us can read.”

Jackie’s personal passions:

Jackie has a well-known passion for history, which has been evinced in many of her novels and picture books.

“To understand today you need to know the past. History is stories. When we share them we not only find the past and understand today, but learn how to create our future, too. A child’s dream may be a story today. It can also be our future.

“Fiction gives children the power to imagine; Nonfiction gives children the information they need to create a world they dream of.”

Did you know that Jackie French is dyslexic?

She gets lost in cities and carparks, is bad with forms and numbers and feels passionately about highlighting the issue of learning disabilities.

“Closely woven into my form of dyslexia is the ability to read extraordinarily quickly; to remember and assimilate and correlate data. I read – and write – faster than anyone I know.

Did this contribute to my desire to be a writer? I suspect not. I loved books because they gave me thousands of lives, not just the boring – and sometimes frightening – world of my childhood. My dyslexia has meant I am a prolific writer; an historian and ecologist who assimilates source material faster than an adolescent boy absorbing ice-cream”.

Jackie is both a lover of words and an ‘ideas person’. Her passion for story, her energy and her spirit will make her a Laureate of real influence.