Leonard Marcus is a renowned historian, critic, and one of the children’s book world’s liveliest writers and speakers. His highly acclaimed books about children’s literature and the authors and artists who create them include: Show Me a Story!; The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth; Funny Business; Golden Legacy: How Golden Books Won Children’s Hearts, Changed Publishing Forever, and Became an American Icon Along the Way; Minders of Make-Believe; Margaret Wise Brown: Awakened by the Moon; Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom; A Caldecott Celebration; Side by Side; Pass It Down; Storied City; and The Wand in the Word. His books are adored by children of all ages, as well as pre-teen and teen readers.
Leonard is one of the most trusted critics in the field. His incisive book reviews appeared in every issue of Parenting magazine for 21 years. He currently reviews for The New York Times Book Review among other publications, and writes “Sight Reading” a regular column on illustrated books for The Horn Book. Leonard is a three-time judge of the New York Times Best Illustrated Books of the Year prize, a standing member of The Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Award committee, and was a judge of the 1996 National Book Awards. He has been a featured guest of ABC’s Good Morning America, BBC Radio 4, C-SPAN 2 Book TV, and National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. In 2006, Leonard served as literary director of The Night Kitchen Radio Theater, founded by Arthur Yorinks, with monthly performances at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, D.C., and regular broadcasts on XM Satellite Radio.
He has curated exhibitions on children’s books and their illustration at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, where is also a founding trustee; New York Public Library; New School for Social Research; Vassar College Library; the Boston Athenaeum; Enoch Pratt Free Library; Joslyn Art Museum (Omaha); Katonah Museum of Art; and the Meridian International Center (Washington, DC).
Leonard has been a consultant to the Whitney Museum of American Art, National Book Foundation, Singapore National Arts Council, All for Kids Foundation, Norman Rockwell Museum, National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, and Book Globe Company Ltd (Japan). He is a member of the national board of the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literatureand the Mazza Museum national advisory board.
Leonard speaks to parents and professional groups throughout the U. S. and around the world. Recent appearances have included talks and lectures at the Asian Festival of Children’s Content (Singapore), Japan Library Association (Tokyo), American Library Association, Iowa Librarians Convention, Charlotte Huck Festival, Yale University, Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ National Conference, the Bologna International Children’s Book Fair, the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, the Los Angeles Public Library, the Mona Bismarck Foundation (Paris), Sidwell Friends School, the public schools of Conway, Arkansas, and Emporia, Kansas, and the national libraries of France and Japan. He enjoys speaking to schoolchildren, and offers a variety of presentations for preschoolers through teens.
Leonard was born and raised in Mount Vernon, New York, where he attended the public schools. He holds degrees in history from Yale and poetry from the University of Iowa Graduate Writers’ Workshop. In 2007, Leonard was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the Bank Street College of Education. He and his wife, the picture-book artist Amy Schwartz, live with their son Jacob in Brooklyn, New York.Download Bio
Listening for MadeleineA Portrait of Madeleine L’Engle in Many Voices
Farrar, Straus and Giroux Paperbacks
Madeleine L'Engle is perhaps best recognized as the author of A Wrinkle in Time, the enduring milestone work of fantasy fiction that won the 1963 John Newbery Medal for excellence in children's literature and has enthralled millions of readers for the past fifty years.
Frances Foster Books
Randolph Caldecott is best known as the namesake of the award that honors picture book illustrations, and in this inventive biography, leading children’s literature scholar Leonard Marcus examines the man behind the medal. In an era when the steam engine fueled an industrial revolution and train travel exploded people’s experience of space and time, Caldecott was inspired by his surroundings to capture action, movement, and speed in a way that had never before been seen in children’s picture books..
"A NEW DEAL FOR THE NURERY: GOLDEN BOOKS AND THE DEMOCRATIZATION OF AMERICAN CHILDREN’S BOOK PUBLISHING” Golden Books revolutionized publishing for children when they first appeared during the 1940s, for the first time making quality children's books available everywhere, for just 25 cents each. In this illustrated presentation, renowned children's literature historian Leonard Marcus tells the fascinating behind-the-scenes tale of the visionary enterprise that brought together top authors and artists, advanced printing technology, and savvy marketing talent to make Golden Books a household name.
MINDERS OF MAKE-BELIEVE: OR, CHILDREN'S BOOK HISTORY IN TEN GIANT STEPS FROM THE NEW ENGLAND PRIMER TO HARRY POTTER What should children read? In this wide-ranging illustrated talk, noted historian Leonard Marcus highlights the key moments in a lively three-hundred-year-old debate that has often made allies—or enemies—of the nation’s publishers, librarians, religious leaders, parents, and educators. Along the way, the genteel backwater that was once children’s book publishing somehow morphed into big business.
OF MICE AND MANHATTAN: STUART LITTLE AND HIS STORYBOOK FRIENDS Find out from this entertaining slide presentation why New York City has inspired so many of children's literature's most memorable characters, from Stuart Little to Harriet the Spy and Eloise.
THE WAND IN THE WORD: MEETING THE MASTERS OF MODERN FANTASY In this reading and discussion, Leonard shares his experiences of interviewing thirteen of the genre's greats, including Madeleine L'Engle, Susan Cooper, Lloyd Alexander, Diana Wynne Jones, Philip Pullman, and Jane Yolen.
LET THE WILD RUMPUS START: URSULA NORDSTROM AND THE MAKING OF THE MODERN PICTURE BOOK This slide presentation gives an inside look at the path-finding work of Harper's visionary editor of books for boys and girls. The focus is on the hands-on creation of such well-loved classics as Goodnight Moon, Harold and the Purple Crayon, Charlotte's Web, Where the Wild Things Are, and Harriet the Spy, and on Ursula Nordstrom's own thoughts on why some books last.
RANDOLPH CALDECOTT AND THE ART OF THE PICTURE BOOK This slide talk takes a many-sided look at the man behind one of childrens literature's most coveted prizes, and shows why Randolph Caldecott was indeed the father of the modern picture book.
CHILDREN'S BOOKS AND THE LADDER OF YEARS In this entertaining and innovative illustrated program, Leonard considers children's literature as a unique window on early childhood development. Focusing on such core issues as the establishment of trust, the development of family and peer relationships, and the consolidation of a secure and flexible self, this programs gives audiences a fuller understanding of the value for children of classics like Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are and other, more recent touchstone books.