The greatest joy in writing is in
showing young people the joy in writing.
"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.
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.
Besides Most Days, 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.
Another picture book is now in the works--in the hands of the illustrators.
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...back to work.
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."
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
"(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
"Most Days is all about taking the time to notice all the little things throughout our day that we so often take for granted. This book is the perfect introduction for young readers to the concept of mindfulness."
--Devyn Douvier, Mutually Inclusive
"Guaranteed to help readers of all ages find wonder each day."
NEWS AND EVENTS
What a great time I had yesterday (April 21, 2022) teaching a class on the history of old-time radio at UWGB, as part of their Lifelong Learning Institute program. So many wonderful people were there. Interest in old radio is still alive--it was a full class with a long waiting list. Fun!
Again, Tennesse PBS, in promoting their program, "Starting with Sounds," featured a famous country singer reading one of my books, this time multiple-Grammy winner Jason Crabb reading Most Days. And he adds a few lines from "What a Wonderful World." What an honor!
Most Days was selected by Kirkus for their list of Top 100 Picture Books of 2021! It's also on their list of the year's Top Nine Best Picture Books Celebrating Community. Here are the lists:
How cool is this? It's singer/songwriter Kelly Lang reading Most People on Tennesse PBS, promoting a program called "Starting with Sounds." Answer: Very cool.
Most Days received a Kirkus starred review in January! See here: Kirkus
I went live on Tuesday, July 6, for the Familius Summer Reading Series, with Goodnight Whispers and a writing activity. See it here: Writing Activity
My essay of on being a good dad: Dad Essay
Most People: winner of the 2017 Moonbeam Spirit Award in the category of Peacemaking.
It's also nice to be on the CNN website, for Most People.
Check out the new "Dad's Attic" podcast. (I'm the dad.) On each program, my daughter Willa and I compare thoughts on topics related to pop culture--music, movies, TV, radio, books. You might find it interesting. Click on it here: Dad's Attic
I was interviewed on Tobi Ojekunle's excellent podcast "Mirror Talk." Based in Germany, Tobi's show features conversations about "love, life, spirituality, finance, relationships, personal growth and other relatable topics." I had such a good time with him. Hear it here: Mirror Talk
Something for Everyone: winner of the 2014 Midwest Independent Publishers Assn. Award--Midwest Regional: Text.
Also, learn more about the history of Wisconsin department stores here.
We Think with Ink is a book I put 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. A companion book, the We Think with Ink Ideas Book, is now available, too.
How to say my name: