What fascinates author and folklorist Dr June Factor about writing for children is their spontaneous response to what they are reading.
“Writing for children is very rewarding, because of children’s responses to the language. Theirs is an immediate reaction.”
The prolific author has written books for all ages, including her 2022 work, Soldiers and Aliens, Men in the Australian Army’s Employment Companies during World War II.
The AJN spoke to Factor after she received news that she has been recognised as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM). She described the honour as “a very pleasant surprise”.
Factor has been writing since her own childhood. “It’s one of the things that’s been a passion and a love of mine since I was a child.”
Co-founding the Australian Children’s Folklore Collection in 1979, she became a director of the project for 25 years.
At Museums Victoria, Factor became a founding member of the Children’s Museum advisory board in 1985, and co-edited Child’s Play: Dorothy Howard and the Folklore of Australian Children in 2006.
“Over the years, I’ve been on a number of their committees and helped to develop children’s committees that delve into the world of childhood,” she said.
In the education field, she holds the title of honorary Senior Fellow at the University of Melbourne’s School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, and is a former senior fellow of the Australian Centre. In the 1970s and 1980s, she lectured in early childhood development.
Born in Poland before World War II, Factor arrived in Australia with her parents in 1938. Growing up, she imbibed her father Saul’s socialist politics.
In 1992, Factor braved a visit to Poland which had barely emerged from the Communist era, and found her city of origin, Lodz, a daunting place.
During her journey there, she visited the streets of her childhood, which would become engulfed in the Holocaust not long after the family left for Australia. She told The AJN that year, “It wasn’t me I felt was there but the ghosts of thousands and millions.”