In this post, we feature award-winning author Leonard S. Marcus, whose acclaimed titles include You Can’t Say That: Writers for Young People Talk about Censorship, Free Expression, and the Stories They Have to Tell, which was named A Notable Book of the National Council for the Social Studies. You can hear him speak about his new title, Mr. Lincoln Sits for His Portrait: The Story of a Photograph That Became an American Icon, and try his “invitation to imagine” activity. You’ll also find other resources to explore. Thanks for joining us, and let us know what you think in the comments below!
- Written by Leonard S. Marcus
- Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Macmillan
- Release date: January 3, 2023
On February 9, 1864, Abraham Lincoln made the mile-long walk from the Executive Mansion to photographer Mathew Brady’s Washington, DC, studio, to be joined there later by his ten-year-old son, Tad. With a fractious re-election campaign looming, America’s first media-savvy president was intent on securing another portrait that cast him in a favorable light, as he prepared to make the case for himself to a nation weary of war. At least four iconic pictures were made that day. One was Lincoln in profile, the image that later found its way onto the penny; two more would be adapted for the 1928 and 2008 five-dollar bills. The fourth was a dual portrait of Lincoln and Tad. Immediately after the president’s murder the following year, the picture of Lincoln reading to his son became a mass-produced icon—a cherished portrait of a nation’s fallen leader, a disarmingly intimate record of a care-worn father’s feeling for his child, and a timeless comment on books as a binding force between generations. 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.
From Mr. Lincoln Sits for His Portrait: The Story of a Photograph That Became an American Icon, by Leonard S. Marcus.
“For one who thought so little of his own looks and was so often mocked for his appearance by others, Abraham Lincoln loved the camera.”Click here to view a longer preview of Mr. Lincoln Sits for His Portrait: The Story of a Photograph That Became an American Icon, by Leonard S. Marcus.
Listen to Leonard S. Marcus talking with TeachingBooks about creating Mr. Lincoln Sits for His Portrait: The Story of a Photograph That Became an American Icon. You can click the player below or experience the recording on TeachingBooks, where you can read along as you listen, and also translate the text to another language.
- Listen to author Leonard S. Marcus pronounce his name.
- Explore TeachingBooks’ collection of activities and resources for Mr. Lincoln Sits for His Portrait: The Story of a Photograph That Became an American Icon.
Invitation to Imagine
TeachingBooks asks each author or illustrator on our Virtual Book Tour to share a writing prompt, a drawing exercise, or just an interesting question to spark curiosity and creativity. Enjoy the following activity contributed by Leonard S. Marcus.
Imagination Activity with Leonard S. Marcus
Abraham Lincoln was fascinated by the new technologies of his day and made brilliant use of them as a politician and president. He knew that the right photo of him could help persuade millions of Americans far and wide that he was a strong and determined leader. As commander-in-chief, he became the first president to direct a war remotely by sending orders to his generals via the world’s first instant messaging platform, the telegraph.
If Lincoln were here today, he’d be a whiz at Twitter. So, here’s the challenge: write five Tweets that Lincoln might have sent to the American people to convince them that it was time to abolish slavery in the U.S. once and for all.
Finish This Sentence . . . with Leonard S. Marcus
As part of our Virtual Book Tour, TeachingBooks asks authors and illustrators to complete short sentence prompts. Enjoy Leonard S. Marcus’s response.
“A surprising thing that helps me work is…”
A surprising thing that helps me work is going for a walk. Fresh air and the rhythm of walking step by step somehow helps me untangle masses of information that I have in my head but have not yet figured out how to shape into a story. More than once, I have come up with a good book title this way, too.
“I knew I would be a writer when…”
I knew I was going to be a writer in second grade when, as a very verbal child who was also a
struggling reader, a reading teacher asked me to write her poem. Because I had written the poem myself, I had no trouble reading it aloud and from then on, writing felt like a big part of who I was, and am.
More Connections to Leonard S. Marcus and Mr. Lincoln Sits for His Portrait: The Story of a Photograph That Became an American Icon
- Discover book like Mr. Lincoln Sits for His Portrait: The Story of a Photograph That Became an American Icon on TeachingBooks.
- Macmillan’s page about Mr. Lincoln Sits for His Portrait: The Story of a Photograph That Became an American Icon, written by Leonard S. Marcus.
- Buy Mr. Lincoln Sits for His Portrait: The Story of a Photograph That Became an American Icon, written by Leonard S. Marcus.
Explore all of the titles featured in the TeachingBooks Virtual Book Tour: one link with author interviews, lesson plans, activities, and more!
Author photo by Sonya Sones. All other text and images are courtesy of Leonard S. Marcus and Macmillan and may not be used without expressed written consent.