Biography

Lesléa (pronounced “Lez-LEE-uh”) Newman is the author of 75 books for readers of all ages, including A Letter to Harvey Milk; October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard; I Carry My Mother; The Boy Who Cried Fabulous; Ketzel, the Cat Who Composed; and Heather Has Two Mommies.

She has received many literary awards, including creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, two National Jewish Book Awards, two American Library Association Stonewall Honors, the Massachusetts Book Award, two Association of Jewish Libraries Sydney Taylor Awards as well as the Sydney Taylor Body-of-Work Award, the Highlights for Children Fiction Writing Award, a Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fiction Writing grant, the James Baldwin Award for Cultural Achievement, the Cat Writers’ Association Muse Medallion, and the Dog Writers’ Association of America’s Maxwell Medallion. Nine of her books have been Lambda Literary Award Finalists.

Ms. Newman wrote Heather Has Two Mommies, the first children’s book to portray lesbian families in a positive way, and has followed up this pioneering work with several more children’s books on lesbian and gay families: Felicia’s Favorite Story, Too Far Away to Touch, Saturday Is Pattyday, Mommy, Mama, and Me, and Daddy, Papa, and Me.

She is also the author of many books for adults that deal with lesbian identity, Jewish identity and the intersection and collision between the two. Other topics Ms. Newman explores include AIDS, eating disorders, butch/femme relationships, and sexual abuse. Her award-winning short story, A Letter To Harvey Milk, has been made into a film and adapted for the stage.

Lesléa’s work has been translated into French, German, Italian, Spanish, Turkish, Serbian, Kazakh, and Chinese.

In addition to being an author, Ms. Newman is a popular guest lecturer, and has spoken on college campuses across the country including Harvard University, Yale University, the University of Oregon, Bryn Mawr College, Smith College and the University of Judaism. From 2005-2009, Lesléa was on the faculty of the Stonecoast MFA program at the University of Southern Maine. From 2008-2010, she served as the Poet Laureate of Northampton, MA. She has taught fiction writing at Clark University and currently she is a faculty mentor at Spalding University’s School of Creative and Professional Writing.

Recently published books include the poetry collections I Wish My Father and I Carry My Mother (Golden Crown Literary Society Award and Massachusetts Center for the Book “Must Read” title); picture books Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale With A Tail (National Jewish Book Award and Sydney Taylor Award); Ketzel, The Cat Who Composed (Massachusetts Book Award, Sydney Taylor Award, and Cat Writers’ Association Best “Litter-ary” Award); Sparkle Boy (Massachusetts Center for the Book Honor Title); and Gittel’s Journey: An Ellis Island Story (National Jewish Book Award). Forthcoming books include Alicia and the Hurricane/Alicia y el huracán, (Lee & Low); What Daddies Do (Abrams); I Can Be….Me! (Lee & Low); The Babka Sisters (Kar-Ben); Song of the Dead Sea Scrolls (Enchanted Lion); The Fairest in the Land (Abrams); and Always Matt: The Story of Matthew Shepard (Abrams).

Listen to a sound file to learn the story of Lesléa’s first name and hear it pronounced correctly.