Patron Jackie French

Jackie French has written over 140 books (fiction and non-fiction); has been acclaimed in both literary and children’s choice awards; is passionate about the environment, history and assisting those with learning difficulties; has been a full-time writer for over twenty years; has an enormous profile in both Australia and overseas; has attracted extensive media coverage; is a gifted and inspiring speaker; and is passionate about the many interests and causes supported during an extensive career. Jackie French's writing career spans 25 years, 248 wombats, over 140 books, 36 languages, 3,721 bush rats, over 60 awards in Australia and overseas, radio shows, and newspaper and magazine columns.

Jackie is one of the few writers to win both literary and children's choice awards, as with Hitler's Daughter, which as well as a decade on most of Australia’s kid’s choice award shortlists won the 2000 CBC Book of the Year for Younger Readers, the UK Wow! Award, a Semi Grand Prix Award in Japan and has been listed as a "blue ribbon' book in the USA. Monkey Baa’s production of Jackie French’s Hitler’s Daughter: the play won both the Helpmann and Drover’s Awards and toured the USA in 2013. Pete the Sheep; the musical, will open in March 2014. Diary of a Wombat, created with Bruce Whatley, is also one of Australia’s best-loved picture books. It has been on bestseller lists across the world, with a still increasing number of awards and translations. Jackie is a passionate advocate of help for children with learning difficulties (Jackie is dyslexic) as well as the conservation of wildlife and our planet.

Jackie French, best-selling author of over 140 books, including the iconic Diary of a Wombat and Hitler’s Daughter, has been announced as the Australian Children's Laureate for 2014 – 2015.

French was presented with her Magpie Award, the symbol of the Laureate, at a ceremony at the National Library of Australia in Canberra by actor, director and former Play School presenter Rhys Muldoon. She will take over from the inaugural Laureate – a position shared between Alison Lester and Boori Monty Pryor – in February 2014 for her 2 year term of office. The Australian Children’s Laureate is an initiative developed by the Australian Children’s Literature Alliance (ACLA), founded in 2008. Every two years a children’s author or illustrator is awarded this prestigious role for their outstanding contribution to children’s literature. The Laureate role is to promote the importance and transformational power of reading and story in the lives of young Australians.

The theme for French’s two-year term as Australian Children’s Laureate will be ‘Share a Story’. Jackie passionately believes that:

    • Every child has the right to have a book to go to bed with - and a bed to read it in.
    • Every child has the right to be taught to read, because without that they have lost the most vital social, educational and professional communication in the modern world.
    • Every child has the right to be guided to the books they need, and the books they will love, in schools, in libraries, and in a safe place they can call a home

‘Share a Story’ will be the primary philosophy behind Jackie’s two-year term as Australian Children’s Laureate. Says Jackie: ‘There are a million ways to share a book or story —

  • to read to a child on your lap;
  • to have a child read to you while you cook dinner;
  • to read to the dog when it has to go to the vet to calm it (or you!) down;
  • to join a storytelling session at your library; to lend a book to your best friend;
  • to tell your grandchildren what life was like when you were young over the phone or on Skype;
  • to read to thousands by video conferencing;
  • to be read a book on television by a much loved presenter.

Stories tell us who we are. They teach us empathy so we understand who others are. They give us the power to imagine and create the future. ‘

To find out more about what the new Australian Children’s Laureate, Jackie French, will be doing and how to get involved with Laureate projects, please visit
A further celebration will take place at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne on Friday 29th of November.

About the Australian Children’s Literature Alliance (ACLA)
The Australian Children’s Laureate is an initiative developed by the Australian Children’s Literature Alliance, founded in 2008. The role of the Laureate is to promote the importance and transformational power of reading, creativity and story in the lives of young Australians: “Reading Changes Lives!” The Laureate acts as a national and international ambassador for Australian children’s literature, inspiring young people to tell their own stories and be part of an active literary culture for enjoyment, wellbeing and success in life.


‘The Australian Children’s Laureate: enriching the lives of young Australians through the power of story.’ 
 Since 2011, highly respected Australian children’s authors or illustrators have been awarded this prestigious honour for an outstanding contribution to children’s literature. They act as national and international ambassadors for reading.
Find out what the second Children’s Laureate, Jackie French is doing during her two year term (2014-15), from the Australian Children’s Laureate


 Go to our Resources page for more information about Jackie French