Leonard is one of the most compelling and versatile speakers in the world of children’s books. Contact him about coming to your conference, museum, library, festival, or school. A wide range of programs and talks are available.
Inside The Great Green Room: The Surprising Story of America’s Favorite Bedtime Book
In this illustrated Zoom talk based on his award-winning biography, Leonard introduces the inspired poet and mercurial free spirit behind America’s best-loved bedtime book, Goodnight Moon. During a brief but comet-like career, Margaret Wise Brown (1910-1952) combined a fascination with child psychology and modern art, and passion for storytelling, to create over 100 of children’s literature’s most original picture books. Meet the irreverent, strong-minded modern woman who gave sweet dreams to millions while insisting that children deserve great words and great art in their books.
You Can’t Say That!: Censorship, Children’s Books, and the Right to Read
What happens when freedom of expression comes under threat? The literature for children and teens has long been the most frequently banned category of books in the US, and recent events across America only intensified this trend. This illustrated talk is based on You Can’t Say That!, Leonard’s critically acclaimed collection of interviews with writers for young people whose books have been challenged or banned. Look here for much-needed perspective on the patterns and consequences of censorship and insight into what to do about them. This program is guaranteed to stimulate thought and generate discussion.
Strong Women, Great Books: The Women Who Invented American Children’s Book Publishing
One hundred years ago, American publishers launched the world’s first editorial departments dedicated to books for young readers – and hired women in nearly all the key roles. In this illustrated talk, Leonard tells the little-known story of these tenacious behind-the-scenes pioneers who seized the day by providing the editorial vision for such classics as Make Way for Ducklings, Charlotte’s Web, Where the Wild Things Are, and The Snowy Day while also carving out an essential place for themselves in a historically male-dominated profession.
Around the World in 80 Picture Books
From New York to Beijing to Bratislava to Mexico City, the illustrated children’s book has become a vibrant global enterprise. In this illustrated talk, Leonard leads a wide-ranging pictorial tour of the landmark books for young people that have defined the children’s picture book for over two centuries and of the cultural trends and new technologies that have fueled the explosive growth of this deceptively simple art form.
Picture-Book Bohemia: The Children’s Book Legacy of Greenwich Village
Greenwich Village—fabled mecca for poets, musicians, artists, and assorted other cool cats–was also a vibrant crossroads for children’s literature’s most innovative artists, writers, and editors. In this fascinating illustrated talk, you’ll see where Where the Wild Things Are, Make Way for Ducklings, and The Very Hungry Caterpillar were each created; explore the park Charlotte Zolotow wrote about and H.A. Rey sketched from his living room window while completing the art for Curious George; discover the school where Goodnight Moon author Margaret Wise Brown learned to write; and pay tribute to the birthplace of American children’s book publishing.
Golden Legacy: The Story of Golden Books
Golden Books revolutionized 20th-century publishing by creating high-quality children’s books that nearly every American family could afford. In this richly illustrated presentation, Leonard tells the fascinating story of the upstart visionaries who brought together top-flight authors and artists, state-of-the-art printing technology, and savvy marketing to make Golden Books one of America’s most treasured brands.
Randolph Caldecott: The Man Who Could Not Stop Drawing
This illustrated talk introduces the sly, fun-loving Victorian whose kinetic drawing style and keen feeling for life culminated in the invention of an art form the world has come to embrace: the children’s picture book. Celebrate this true original as the American Library Association marks the 80th anniversary of the coveted prize named for him: the Randolph Caldecott Medal.
Children’s Books and the Ladder of Years
In this innovative program, Leonard considers children’s literature as a unique window on child development. Focusing on core issues like the establishment of trust, the formation of peer relationships, and the consolidation of a secure self, this illustrated talk offers fresh insight into the lasting value of classics from Goodnight Moon to Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing.
Storied City: Classic Children’s Books About New York
This entertaining ode to the Big Apple surveys the veritable library of children’s books that New York City has inspired. Take a closer look at memorable New York characters like Stuart Little, Lyle Crocodile, and Eloise, and at the equally colorful authors who created them.