The Jean Russell Gift, initiated in 1984, celebrates the memory of Anne Wood’s dear friend and colleague, Jean Russell.
For many years Jean 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), 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.
As a child, Jean had spent many months in hospital and, as for so many children, books became a special source of imaginative freedom. 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 began in 1984 as an annual gift of books to a nominated child and their family. In 2015 it became one of the Ragdoll Foundation’s Legacy projects and has since been given as an annual grant to the Federation of Children’s Book Groups, initially for a three-year initiative, The Jean Russell Storytelling Project, and currently to develop the Federation’s local book groups, website, and its annual Children’s Book Award, the only national award voted for solely by children from start to finish.