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A successful writer of children’s fiction, Jean Little has won acclaim in Canada and abroad and wrote more than 50 books. She was educated at the University of Toronto and was a special-education teacher before turning to writing full time following the publication of her first book, Mine for Keeps, in 1962. Almost blind since birth, she used much of her real-life experience as the basis for her writing. Her novels, picture books, and poetry treat with insight such universal themes as loneliness, alienation, intolerance, family stress, and the difficulties in interpersonal and intercultural relationships. Little’s characters often deal with physical disabilities or confront psychological difficulties. Her best-known book is From Anna (1972), which has sold more than 130,000 copies. She was a past recipient of the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People and the Matt Cohen Award: In Celebration of a Writing Life. Little lived in Guelph, Ontario before her passing in 2020.

Award History

Selection Committee Citation

“Jean was a pioneer Canadian writer, standing almost alone as a major, internationally recognized Canadian children’s author. She was an outstanding leader when it came to fearless book promotion. Her school appearances were legendary... let’s just say they could send shivers of fear and joy through children’s spines.”
— 2012 Matt Cohen Award Committee (Patsy Aldana, Graeme Gibson, and Wayne Grady)

Program History

Works recognized by WT

From Anna

Hand in Hand

Listen for the Singing

Mine for Keeps

Orphan at My Door