Leonard’s pathfinding writings and exhibitions have earned him acclaim as one of the world’s preeminent authorities on children’s books and the people who create them. He is the author of more than 25 award-winning biographies, histories, interview collections, and inside looks at the making of children’s literature’s enduring classics. His reviews and commentary have been featured in the New York Times Book Review, Washington Post, The Horn Book, and on numerous radio and television programs including Good Morning America, All Things Considered, PBS NewsHour, BBC Radio 4, CBC As It Happens, Beijing Television, and Radio New Zealand, among others.
A founding trustee of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art, Leonard curated the New York Public Library’s landmark exhibition The ABC of It: Why Children’s Books Matter, as well as a long roster of touring exhibitions highlighting the art of Golden Books, Alice and Martin Provensen, Leonard Weisgard, Bernard Waber, Jules Feiffer, Garth Williams, and others. He has served as a consultant to the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, National Book Foundation, Bank Street College of Education, American Writers Museum, Bard Graduate Center, National Book Council (Singapore), Lamsa Media (UAE), and Trust Bridge Media (China). In 2007, the Bank Street College of Education awarded Leonard an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters. In 2019, Leonard became the first American to win the Shanghai-based Chen Bochui Foundation International Children’s Literature Award for “special contributions to the development of Chinese children’s literature.”
His literary archive is now in the collection of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University. Leonard teaches at New York University and the School of Visual Arts, and speaks to audiences throughout the US and around the world.
Born in Mount Vernon, New York and educated at Yale and the Iowa Graduate Writers’ Workshop, he lives in Brooklyn, New York.