|Born||January 2, 1932
|Genre||Children's fiction, memoir|
Jean Little (born January 2, 1932) is a Canadian writer. Her work has mainly consisted of children's literature, but she has also written two autobiographies: Little by Little and Stars Come Out Within. Little has been partially blind since birth as a result of scars on her cornea and is frequently accompanied by a guide dog.
Jean Little was born in Taiwan. Her parents were Canadian doctors serving as medical missionaries under the United Church of Canada. The Little family came home to live in Canada in 1939, moving to Guelph in 1940. Although Jean was legally blind from birth, she attended elementary and secondary school in regular classes. She went to the University of Toronto and got her BA in English Language and Literature.
After teaching disabled children for several years, Jean Little wrote her first children’s novel, Mine for Keeps, about a child with cerebral palsy. It won the Little, Brown Canadian Children’s Book Award and was published in 1962. Since then, Jean has had 44 other books published. She has written novels, picture books, poetry, short stories, and two autobiographical books. She has also written a novel about her mother’s childhood called, His Banner Over Me. She has won literary awards for her work and has been published internationally.
She has taught Children's Literature at the University of Guelph where she is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of English. She has six honorary degrees and is a Member of the Order of Canada. She has journeyed widely talking to both adults and children themselves about the joys to be found through reading and writing. In March 2004 she went to India and in November 2006 to Bulgaria.
In 2016 Little lives in Guelph, Ontario with her sister Pat, her great niece Jeanie, and her great nephew Ben. She writes with a talking computer and travels with her Seeing Eye dog Honey. She is at work on a novel. She gave the 2016 Margaret Lawrence Lecture at the Canadian Writers Summit in June.
Several of Little's books, such as Mine for Keeps and From Anna, focus on children who have a disability or are affected by a person with a disability. As many of her books were written several decades ago, they now serve as examples of how children with disabilities were previously raised and treated by society. Another frequent theme is adoption and foster care, as shown in Home from Far and Willow and Twig. Children often find homes and families throughout the course of the novel, whether it consists of rediscovering the importance of their family, being reunited with family or creating a new family in their new situation. While the novels often touch on very sad events, ranging from serious illness, abuse and death, the endings are usually positive and show the resilience of children.
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