Finding Langston, the first of a creative trilogy by Lesa Cline-Ransome

"Never really thought much about Alabama's red dirt roads, but now, all I can think about is kicking up their dust.  I miss the hot sun on the back of my neck and how now the racket of cicadas, seems like no sound at all.  At the end of a school day. 'fore I had to get home and do my chores, I could take my time walking just as slow as I pleased without someone pushing past and cutting their eyes like I was a stray dog come asking for scraps." 

You meet the protagonist, grieving his mother after he'd moved to Chicago in 1946 with his father. "After your mama passed, I knew I couldn't stay.  For me, Alabama is her and us.  Without her, ain't nothing left for me there." 

Chicago held nothing for him as far as he's concerned.  School is okay, but there are bullies and lots of kids who call him "Country Boy" for the way he speaks and dresses.

It is only when he runs from those bullies getting himself lost, that he discovers the George Cleveland Hall Branch of the Chicago Public Library, that his world opens up in a way he never imagined.

The children's librarian, Miss Cook, implies that his name, Langston, comes from a famous poet and author.  This Langston knows nothing about that, but reading Langston Hughes' words "Feels like reading words from my heart."  Thus begins a love affair with the library, which he visits as often as possible. In the process, he learns some things about his Mama and about himself that he never knew.

And slowly, he comes to terms with being in Chicago, living life with Daddy, confronting the bullies, and maybe, just maybe, making a friend.

gold stargold stargold stargold stargold starFive stars for this lovely, short (104 pages) beautifully told historical fiction novel that ties in elements of the Great Migration and poetry from Langston Hughes.  


  • Watch Lesa Cline-Ransome talk about - and read from - her book, Finding Langston, in this Youtube video PAST PRESENT.
  • Read about several recent, excellent nonfiction Young Readers Editions by Black authors in this blog post.
  • Do you want to read this book with your class?  Use my novel study to guide your lessons.

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