As a child, Jean Russell spent many months in hospital and books were, for her, a special source of imaginative freedom. For many years she was a Children’s Librarian before joining forces with Anne Wood, Founder of Ragdoll Productions, to co-edit the magazine Books for Your Children (est. 1965), which Anne founded and published for 30 years, and, with Anne, to establish the Federation of Children’s Book Group (1969). Jean became well-known and respected within the book world and, more widely, among parents, for her knowledge and integrity. Despite disability and recurrent illness, Jean gave unstintingly of her love and her time to bring children and good books together: giving lectures and talks, and writing and editing collections of original stories.
The Jean Russell Gift, initiated in 1984, celebrates Jean’s memory. It began as an annual gift of books to a nominated child and their family. In 2015 the Jean Russell Gift became one of the Ragdoll Foundation’s legacy projects. In 2016 it was delivered in partnership with the Federation of Children’s Book Groups as a new initiative: The Jean Russell Storytelling Project.