Michael Leannah Writer Teacher
The greatest joy in writing is in
showing young people the joy in writing.
I am the creator of We Think with Ink, a writing program for elementary and middle school students.
I grew up in Marinette, Wisconsin. I have a degree in elementary education from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and a Master's degree in creative writing from the UW-Milwaukee.
I keep a guitar next to me at my desk. When I need to take a break from my writing, I play a song or two, usually something in the style of Jorma Kaukonen.
Then it's back to work.
As a kid, I loved school rooms and libraries so much that when my school days came to an end, what did I do? I became a teacher and spent more than thirty years working in classrooms and libraries. And now I live in a house with dozens of little reading corners and shelves and shelves of books.
The books in my childhood home were mostly hand-me-downs from older siblings: Uncle Wiggily stories, Golden Books, animal stories attributed to the mysterious Watty Piper.
By childhood's end, "I didn't get enough" of those books, so I read them to my students and to my own children. But I am not a teacher anymore, and my children are grown, so what do I do?
I now write children's stories of my own.
Will I ever get enough of books and learning and writing and reading? I don't know. Ask me when I'm 109. Maybe I'll know by then.
"I didn't get enough." We don't like those words from a selfish kid on Christmas morning or from an adult looking back on a business deal. But those words -- "I didn't get enough" -- have guided me through my life as a teacher, a father, a writer.
Besides Most People and Goodnight Whispers, I have published Something for Everyone, the history of a Wisconsin department store chain, and Well!, a collection of essays on the life of comedian Jack Benny. My work has also been in magazines, such as Scholastic's Instructor, the Australian magazine Countdown, Highlights for Children, and Ladybug.
And two more picture books are now in the works--in the hands of the illustrators.
REVIEWS & TESTIMONIALS
"A dad-side complement to Love You Forever…where Robert Munsch and Sheila McGraw’s mother’s helicopter tendencies achieved pathological status, this dad seems to support his daughter’s maturation."
"Michael Leannah's words are an inspiration to all parents."
"(The) simple reasoning is
perfectly pitched for its young audience…Most People works especially well because it doesn’t just tell children to ‘be’ good. It shows them how to ‘do’ good."
"A warmhearted and positive book about the good in people, coming at a time when its message is much needed."
--Dr. Stephen Powers
We Think with Ink...
"We Think With Ink is a glimpse into the world of master teacher Michael Leannah as he shares the amazing benefits of writing."
-- Dr. Ted DiStefano
"I wish We Think With Ink could be in every classroom. This book is astoundingly good."
-- Jill Esbaum, author
NEWS AND EVENTS
Honored to have Most People included on this list at the Huffington Post
Nice to be on the CNN website, for Most People.
Most People: winner of the 2017 Moonbeam Spirit Award in the category of Peacemaking.
We Think with Ink, the first in a series of instruction books for writing teachers, is now available. I put this book together during the last ten years of my teaching career. My dream of being a writing specialist at the elementary level never came to be, but this book is the phoenix that rose from those ashes. We Think with Ink: The Ideas Book is coming next.
Click here, then scroll down to the blue "Listen" button to hear my interview on the Lake Effect radio show from November of 2013. Thanks to WUWM in Milwaukee.
Goodnight Whispers was released by Familius in August of 2018. Most People was published by Tilbury House in 2017. A follow-up, Most Days, is coming in January, 2021. And Farmer Huckinshuck's Wild Ride is in the works with DartFrog Books.
Something for Everyone: winner of the 2014 Midwest Independent Publishers Assn. Award--Midwest Regional: Text.
In connection with my book Something for Everyone, there is an exhibit of items related to Lauermans Department Store on display at the Stephenson Public Library in Marinette, across the street from the old store. Stop in and check it out the next time you're down that way.
You'll see crockery from the store's Blue Room, artifacts from Lauerman family collections, and dolls, toys, and other items on loan from former employees and customers. And it's not too late to offer items of your own, if you have something of interest.
Learn more about the history of Wisconsin department stores here.