Leonard Marcus
Children's Book Historian, Author, Critic

Leonard Marcus is a renowned historian, critic, and one of the children’s book world’s liveliest writers and speakers. His award-winning books include biographies of Margaret Wise Brown, Madeleine L’Engle, Randolph Caldecott, Helen Oxenbury, Maurice Sendak, and Ursula Nordstrom; The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth; Golden Legacy: The Story of Golden Books; and his incisive look at censorship and books for young people, You Can’t Say That!.

One of the most trusted commentors in the field, Leonard is a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review has been a featured guest of ABC’s Good Morning America, BBC Radio 4, C-SPAN 2 Book TV, and NPR’s All Things Considered, and CBC radio. He is a founding trustee of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art and curated the New York Public Library’s landmark exhibition “The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter,” among many others.

 Leonard speaks to parents and professional groups throughout the U. S. and across the world about censorship and freedom of expression; the history of Golden Books; the life and work of innovative children’s book creators from Lewis Carroll and Randolph Caldecott to Margaret Wise Brown, Madeleine L’Engle, and Ezra Jack Keats; and the age-old question of how to choose the right book for your child.  

Leonard grew up in Mount Vernon, New York, graduated from Yale and the Iowa Graduate Writers’ Workshop and holds an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the Bank Street College of Education. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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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..

Mr. Lincoln Sits for His Portrait The Story of a Photograph That Became an American Icon
Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Mr. Lincoln Sits for His Portrait is a unique middle-grade depiction of America’s sixteenth president, through the story of one famous photograph, written by award-winning author Leonard S. Marcus.

Abraham Lincoln, Our First Media President
With barely one year of formal schooling under his belt, Abraham Lincoln grew up to become not only our most eloquent writer-president but also the first to grasp the power of the new mass media of his day to shape public opinion and change the course of history. In this illustrated talk, Leonard traces Lincoln's fascination with the telegraph, illustrated newspapers and magazines, and most especially the still-young art of portrait photography as powerful tools for persuading a divided nation that he was fit to lead. nation that he was fit to lead.
You Can't Say That! Why Censoring Children's Books is a Bad Idea and What We Can Do About It
Based on You Can't Say That!, Leonard's book about this timely and important subject, this illustrated program surveys the history of book banning in the US before zeroing in on the recent, often highly organized attempts to limit young people's access to books. How does censorship really work? Why are so many such efforts hard to detect? Who is most harmed when a book is challenged or removed from a school or library collection? What can be done about it? These and other urgent questions will be addressed in this wide-ranging talk.
Read Me a Story, Sing Me to Sleep: Choosing the Best Books for Your Child
Practical, time-tested advice from one of the world's leading experts on how to home in on the books your child will love and remember.
A New Deal for the Nursery: The Story of Golden Books
Golden Books revolutionized publishing for children when they first appeared during the 1940s by making quality picture books both available and affordable as never before. In this illustrated presentation, Leonard tells the remarkable behind-the-scenes tale of the visionary enterprise that brought together top-flight authors and artists, advanced printing technology, and savvy marketing talent to make Golden Books a household name.
Of Mice and Manhattan: Stuart Little and His New York 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 and Harriet the Spy to Lyle Crocodile and Eloise.
Randolph Caldecott and the Art of the Picture Book
This slide talk takes a many-sided look at the man behind one of children's literature's most coveted prizes and shows why Randolph Caldecott was indeed the father of the modern picture book.
Let the Wild Rumpus Start: Ursula Nordstrom and the Making of the Modern Picture Book
In this illustrated presentation, Leonard offers an inside look at the path-finding work of twentieth-century America's visionary publisher of books for boys and girls, Ursula Nordstrom. Find out about the 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 hear what Ursula Nordstrom thought was the secret behind those rare children's books that last for generation after generation.

Listen to Leonard Marcus talk with Giuseppe Castellano on The Illustration Department podcast.

Listen to Leonard in conversation with book world guru Nigel Beale on The Biblio File podcast.

Read about Leonard’s take on censorship in children’s books in his blog post.

Leonard discusses Goodnight Moon’s comfort on CBC Radio.

Praise for Listening for Madeleine: A Portrait in Many Voices "Insightful... impressionistic, and satisfyingly complex"
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Mr. Marcus's immensely readable and fascinating book will stand...as the definitive portrait of Madeleine L'Engle."
--James Kennedy, The Wall Street Journal

Praise for Randolph Caldecott: The Man Who Could Not Stop Drawing
"An exemplary juvenile biography."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Superb...This beautifully designed and illustrated large-format volume is a worthy tribute to the man who remains a giant in the world of children's literature."
--Booklist (starred review)