Finding Langston

by Lesa Cline-Ransome

In the late 1940s, 11-year-old Langston recently moved to Chicago from Alabama with... read more

In the late 1940s, 11-year-old Langston recently moved to Chicago from Alabama with his father and is having a hard time with the transition. He and his dad are both still grieving the death of Langston’s mother, while Langston is teased at school for being a country boy. On a day he’s evading a bully after school, Langston discovers the George Cleveland Hall branch of the Chicago Public Library. Back in Alabama, his mother had told him that libraries were for white people, but here he sees people that look like him going in. Langston enters and finds a welcoming world. He’s drawn first to the work of a Black poet who has the same name as he does: Langston. Reading Langston Hughes’s poems makes Langston feel like he’s found someone who understands his life, whose words could be his own. Talking more to his dad and reading old letters, Langston realizes that his mom, too, found resonance and hope in the words of Langston Hughes, and that she chose to name him “Langston” because of Langston Hughes. A short, stirring novel that sees Langston making new connections in myriad ways also sees him move from loneliness and isolation to hope. (Ages 8–11)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2019

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