Children’s author Joy Crowley with the Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy during her investiture at Government House in Wellington on Monday. PHOTO/NZME

Celebrated children’s author, Joy Cowley, has received the highest honour in the country.

The Featherston resident was made a member of The Order of New Zealand at Government House in Wellington on Monday morning.

Cowley said she was the third wearer of the medallion she received, behind artist Cliff Whiting and Educationalist Clarence Beeby.

“This holds the mana of both of those people. So it’s not just wearing something, it’s wearing the spirit of Beeby and Whiting as well.”

Cowley’s husband and four children attended the ceremony to support her.

Cowley has been described as one of New Zealand’s most prolific and successful writers since the 1960s.

Her children’s fiction includes books ‘The Silent One’, ‘Bow Down Shadrach’ and its sequel ‘Gladly, Here I Come’.

She has written 41 children’s picture books and has emphasised the need for children to see themselves in the books they read, particularly in their early years.

“We can teach children to read and to hate reading at the same time if the process is dull and difficult.”

She said her first duty as a writer was to entertain.

“Into the entertainment I built the skills, they’re there, but a book has to be fun, it has to be enjoyable.

“Adults don’t read dull and difficult material by choice, why do we expect that of children?”

Cowley has written more than 1000 books to assist in teaching reading skills to schoolchildren.

Her books are internationally renowned and used in more than 70 per cent of American schools. – NZME