Wednesday, January 27, 2021

January Diversity Reading: Finding Langston

I was attracted to Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome, because I read Langston Hughes when I was in high school. We didn't study him, anymore than we studied Shirley Jackson or the authors of the Algonquin Roundtable. I don't know how I stumbled upon all those writers, unless it had something to do with me being a library aid at my high school for three or four years. I can't say I read a lot of Langston Hughes, but I recall liking him, unlike the Roundtable authors, whom I found disappointing. And, of course, everyone knows I have an obsession with Shirley Jackson

Finding Langston is a quite impressive book that can be enjoyed from three different angles. Are you interested in reading about the Great Migration, the movement of southern African-Americans to the north in the first half of the 20th Century? Finding Langston is about that. Are you interested in reading about bullying? Finding Langston is about that. Are you interested in reading about poetry? Finding Langston is about that, big time.

Poetry has always been something I respected, but rarely appreciated/understood. Finding Langston may change that for me. In addition to enjoying the Hughes poetry that appears in the book, I was struck by one character's summing up of poetry. "So the poetry you read is a way of putting all the things you feel inside on the outside." That led me to wonder, in an adult way, if poetry for readers is a way of expressing their feelings. You hunt for poets who can do that for you.

Regarding the Great Migration--I am certain I never studied that in either high school or college, where I was a history minor. At the high school level, survey courses back then often didn't get well into the twentieth century and often focused on economics and war. On the college level, I may just not have happened to take an American history course that covered much of the twentieth century. Another possibility? The Great Migration may not have been recognized as a historical event until very recently.

Finding Langston was a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and won the Scott O'Dell Award for historical fiction. Another award winning book worthy of the attention. Also, another book I read this month because Multicultural Children's Book Day is right around the corner.

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