Vale Jo Goodman



Jo Goodman

27 September 1940 –
24 July 2014







Jo Goodman’s death is deeply felt by the Australia’s children’s literature community. Friends and colleagues will attest to her extensive knowledge relating to children’s literature and to the children’s book world. This knowledge was invariably imbued with passion and a belief that Australian children’s literature is an essential part of our national heritage. Her contributions and achievements are impressive, but these are only reflections of the depth and breath of her life lived within children’s literature.

The Children’s Book Council of Australia was an important part of Jo’s life. She occupied many roles and positions, each with characteristic commitment. Jo was instrumental in many endeavours for both the Victorian Branch of the CBCA and also for the national body of CBCA.

In Victoria, Jo served as a President of the Victorian Branch from 1992-1993, and several terms as a Vice-President in recent years. She was the inaugural convenor of the Leila St John Award for outstanding service to children’s literature in Victoria, first awarded in 1999. She was also instrumental in the Nan Chauncy award, given from 1983, to a person for outstanding contribution to the field of Australian children’s literature. For many ears, Jo astutely held carriage of this major award, ensuring that processes were workable and professional.

Jo also judged children’s books in various ways. She served two terms as the Victorian Judge for the national CBCA Book Awards in 1986-1987 and 1998-1999. Today, it is now common for State and Territory judges to give public talks, but Jo Goodman was one of the first Judges to speak publically about the judging process, the Short List and all entries.

Her experience as a Judge led her to serve as CBCA Awards Coordinator where she applied her characteristic eye for detail and gave generous support to the judges. From 1993 to 2013, she served on the CBCA Awards Handbook Committee. This publication continues to provide public information about the awards for authors, illustrators, publishers and the general public.

Readers yearn for concise, knowledgeable and well argued articles and reviews on Australian children’s books. This was Jo’s forte. She began reviewing for Reading Time, the CBCA’s national reviewing outlet in 1988. She was also a regular reviewer and writer for Magpies: Talking About Books for Children. For Jo, such activities were about inspiring readers.

Jo was a champion of Australian picture books. She was instrumental in establishing the Crichton award, first presented in 1998 and thereafter annually to encourage and recognise emerging illustrators in the field of Australian picture books. She was behind the organisation of the 1992 Reading the Pictures: A Seminar on Visual Literacy, (publication by the same name), one of the first national seminars where leading Australian picture book illustrators spoke about their art. Over the last few years, Jo has organised the Zart Art Seminars where authors, illustrators and publishers spoke about the art of picture books. Jo made meticulous notes at each of these seminars. These now form a permanent record in the Lu Rees Archives of Australian Children’s Literature.

Jo was an author and editor as well. The CBCA commissioned two collections of short stories by CBCA award winners including Dream Time (1989) and Into the Future (1991). Jo and co-editors Toss Gascoigne and Margot Hillel produced these to a high standard. Into the Future was named a White Ravens book by the International Youth Library in Munich in 1993.

In Jo’s early career as a teacher librarian, she noticed that little material was available to promote reading for pleasure. Along with her colleagues Andrew Taylor  & Gary Shaw, Jo published RIB-IT in 1983. RIB-IT became a promotional campaign to encourage reading for pleasure and was widely used in school and public libraries across Australia.

In 2010, Jo was presented, along with John Cohen, with a citation from the CBCA national body for ‘long and dedicated service’. The citation (Reading Time vol 54 no 4, pp7-8, 2010) stated that both Jo Goodman and John Cohen ‘have had a profound influence on the development of the organisation and their wise counsel is often called upon at AGMs, as their collective corporate knowledge is formidable.’

Jo Goodman always tackled large and small tasks with equal vigor and excitement. She has changed the landscape of Australian children’s literature for the better. Her legacy will continue and all Australians are the beneficiaries.


Dr Belle Alderman AM

Director, Lu Rees Archives of Australian Children’s Literature Inc

29 July 2014



  1. Pingback: A champion of children’s books | Wilkins Farago's Blog

  2. Ernie Tucker on

    I’ve lost a friend. Jo had a wonderful spirit for life and literature: she stood up for kids and the books and the writers and illustrators who created the books that kids of all ages enjoyed. Her contribution to wide reading, young adult reading and illustrated books ws significant and lasting. She was a sheet anchor the Children’s Book Council of Australia and the Victorian branch of CBCA.

  3. Lucy and I were very sad to come across this tribute to Jo Goodman. We spoke to her in early July and she was extremely excited about the party she was organising to mark her many years of involvement with the CBCA. Unfortunately we weren’t able to accept her invitation to attend as we are located interstate. We had the privilege of working with Jo for many years. She was the ‘go to’ person whenever we had a query, or someone was seeking information about a children’s book, or there was a question about a particular aspect of the Book of the Year Awards. I had the pleasure of meeting up with her regularly at national CBCA meetings, and she often had ‘Ratty’ in tow. Her life found meaning and purpose in the joy of children’s literature and she wanted to share that joy with others – adults and children alike. She worked hard, was meticulous in her approach to everything she did and, importantly, had lots of fun doing it. We miss you Jo. The world of children’s literature will be a little poorer without you, but we are all certainly much richer for having known you.
    With fond memories
    Wendy and Lucy (former managers of CBCA national office)

  4. Jo, Margot and I edited Dreamtime and Into The Future, brave joint ventures between the CBC and Penguin.

    Jo was terrific to work with: rigorous, deeply knowledgeable and with a good eye for a story.

    Our paths diverged after that, but Jo went on to make great contributions to children’s literature.

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