Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Learning Tree” as Want to Read:
The Learning Tree
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Learning Tree

4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  894 ratings  ·  44 reviews
"A fine novel."
THE BOSTON HERALD
Photographer, writer, and composer, Gordon Parks has written a moving, true-to-life novel of growing up as a black man in this country in this century. Hailed by critics and readers alike, THE LEARNING TREE tells the extraordinary journey of a family as they struggle to understand the world around them and leave their mark a world that is be
...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published June 12th 1987 by Fawcett (first published 1963)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Learning Tree, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Learning Tree

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,776)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Ron Wallace
Feb 07, 2008 Ron Wallace rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Ron by: Howard Starks and Claude Adams
Shelves: top-shelf
I've read the whole book several times and pieces of it ten or more times. Parks was an underrated writer of superb quality. It's another classic to be that is often overlooked.
Andre
Oct 10, 2007 Andre rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Great piece of work. Gordon Parks does a great job winding through not just racial issues, but prohibition, class structures and coming of age.

Much better than the movie!!!
Melanie
I consider this to be a very underrated book. Everyone talks about To Kill a Mocking Bird, but I feel this is much more powerful. I never would have read The Learning Tree if it wasn't for my book club. This is a coming of age story for Newt Winger, a young black teen, in the 1920s. The major theme of this book is integrity - standing up for what is right even if it might hurt you. I highly recommend everyone to read this book.
Kitty Tsang
The Learning Tree is a fictional study of a black family in a small Kansas town in the 1920s. Newt, the protagonist, is an intelligent young man who faces many racial prejudices. Like most characters who faces these issues, he dealt with them in pride. However, he gets into a difficult situation when he witnesses a murder. He has to choose between coming clean or hiding in the dark because a man is being framed for the crime. Doing so will forever change his life. It's either he live with the gu ...more
Mal
i read this book over 25 years ago and remember it like it was yesterday. definitely one of the best books that ive read in my life. definitely impactful.
Boris
This was an absolutely fantastic book to read!

This book is suppose to be semi-autobiographical. If you know a bit about Gordon Parks and his life then you will see some of his life written into the book. How much of it was romanticized or fictionalized I don't know but that question did not deter me from enjoying this book. The pace is very quick with action in every chapter. You would think this is like diary with one chapter representing one day but the book really spans a couple of years of t
...more
Monique
Going in on a classic, a definitive African American novel that actually turned into the first motion picture directed by an African American: the incomparable Gordon Parks-hmm can’t believe I have never read this one and had to be led to this one by the library volunteer recommended reading list as this is a kind of parallel to the infamous Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird…and sigh sadly I have never read or heard of this story as I would have loved to have gotten these amazing life lessons e ...more
Erin
May 30, 2010 Erin marked it as to-read
TUESDAY, AUGUST 29, 2006
The Learning Tree challenged
A member of the Mobile county school board in Alabama is seeking to remove Gordon Parks' book, The Learning Tree, from this summer's reading list for upcoming ninth-graders at LeFlore High School in Mobile, reports the Alabama Press-Register. Fleet Belle, who says he has read sections of the book, wants it removed because of its "inappropriate and unacceptable" language.
Kimberly Hicks
I read this book when I was in high school and did a paper on it! Next to "To Kill a Mockingbird," this was another coming of age story told beautifully by Gordon Parks. There were many sections of the book that angered me, but I realize it was the sign of the times, for when this was written. I recommend this book for all reading audiences. Lots of life's lessons to be learned in this book!
Roniq
Fantastic read, a touching and at times heartbreaking human study of Newt and his family living with all of the challenges a black family might encounter in Kansas in the 1920s. A great coming of age story written with sensitivity and strength by the talented author Gordon Parks

Jacq Francois
So happy I finally took the time to read this book. Even though it's set almost 100 years ago, the themes & elements are still as relevant now as they were then. I think everything Black male has a portion of Newt Winger in their souls. Incredible story by my hero, Gordon Parks.
Beth Lind
This felt so familiar and so tragic. Though Newt's story takes place in the mid 1920s, there are some eery similarities in current racial divides. Still.

I didn't realize that Gordon Parks wrote a book until I read about him after seeing his photography exhibit at the High Museum. And Shaft, I remember seeing Shaft when it came on tv for the Saturday night movie special in the mid 70s (which Parks directed). So how does one person become so talented in so many areas?

I'm in awe of Gordon Parks' v
...more
Trish
Had to read this my junior year in high school.. 16 years later it's still one of my favorite books.. It changed my life
Nicole G.
A coming of age novel about a young boy living in Kansas in the 1920s. Mr. Parks does not shy away from the unflinching racism young Newt experiences, such as his teacher telling him not to bother with college because he's only going to be a porter anyway. Newt is also an unfortunate witness to a murder, and must grapple with the decision to come forward, fearing the explosion of already-simmering racial tension. This book has been banned in some schools due to extensive use of the n-word, as we ...more
Julia
People compare this novel to To Kill a Mockingbird and I think it’s justified.

Both are fifty years old. Both are autobiographical fiction. Both take place in the 1920’s. Both take their sweet time describing their small town settings. Scout is a nine year old girl when the novel begins and Newt is a 12 year old boy.

But Scout is white and Newt is black. Newt’s Cherokee Flats, KS is more violent that Maycomb County, AL. The novel starts with a tornado, people die in car wrecks, the sheriff shoot
...more
Kathryn
I picked up this book from the MFA gift shop when they were showing an exhibition of Mr. Parks' photography. The novel is -- unfortunately -- still apt. Set in the 1920s, written in the 1960s, it depicts "how it feels to be black in the white man's world." Definitely worth the read.
Katherine
"Some of the people are good, and some of them are bad-just like the fruit on a tree....No matter if you go ro stay, think of Cherokee Flats like that till the day you die-let it be your learning tree". So spoke Sarah Winger to her son not long before his thirteenth birthday
Stephanie
A good novel to pair with Harper Lee's, *To Kill A Mockingbird.* Vividly narrated action, this is a realistic, troubling, coming-of-age story filled with believable young characters and a classic cast of adults representing the human moral spectrum. Great storytelling centered around a Black farming family in Kansas. Original cover text: "How it feels to be black in the white man's world...The Learning Tree, A novel from life by Gordon Parks."
Karen Rowe
I read this book a long time ago. I don't remember the year.

Michelle Tooson
I read this in high school. Great book.
Nancy
I read this book for a book club and really enjoyed it. The author was from Fort Scott which is an area of Kansas of which I am familiar with the area. I could see these things happening in the area even much later in history. The setting was a fictional town but I believe that is a combination of a couple of towns. Although you did not see racial issues a much in small town America it was there and this is a good reflection of how things were. I feel this was a good book to read.
Jack Gattanella
If you read this in high school, as I did, you may not remember everything by the time it's half a lifetime later... but that opening where Newt gets some barn sex during a thunderstorm from an older teenager.... Goddamn.

From the director of Shaft by the way. Seriously it's a good book, I just wish I remembered it better. It had some good life lessons and coming of age stuff. It's what you get when you grow up in Teaneck, NJ.
Brent
Aug 02, 2013 Brent rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: readers young and old, familiar and unfamiliar with black literature
Recommended to Brent by: Eddie DuPriest, 7th or 8th Grade English
Lots of time has passed since our Junior High English class, and I've forgotten all about the plot. I was surprised back in those fabulous 1970s how much I enjoyed book we were assigned, like this one; later I learned about Parks; work as a photojournalist for Life magazine. I'd like to reread this together with a book of Parks' photos.
Classmates: was it 7th or 8th Grade?
Recommended.
Pocket
I did not like this book at all. I wasn't dead bored reading it, as I was with Grapes of Wrath, but I did not like the story, and the part of the story that was somewhat decent, the relationship of Arcella and Newt, was left unresolved. The plot really seemed all over the place and the story is just not one that appeals to my age group.
sweet pea
an unique portrait of a black family in kansas. the story pulls no punches showing the ubiquitous violence their community faces. puts me in mind of both the adventures of tom sawyer and roll of thunder, hear my cry. ignore the horrible cover.
Shanee
classic! on my future children's mandatory reading list that's already 193 long
Katherine
Written in the 60s, this book is very much of its era. It's very worth reading if you are interested at all in the complexity of race relations in the United States during segregation. It's a must read if you think all the issues were in the South.
Brandin Jefferson
In my opinion, a pretty good book. Gets very suspenseful at many points, but doesn't over do it. The story of a young black kid in the 1920's, based on a true story. It truly personifies what happened back in those days.
Dina
I read this book in high school so I don't remember all the details of the book but I do remember what an impact it made on me. Wonderful book and I think it should be read by all kids in junior high or high school.
Shakeia
First, this was a re-read. I absolutely love this book. I've read it a million times and have seen the movie just as many times. In my opinion, it's a really brilliant book.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 59 60 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Thirteen Stories
  • My House
  • This Little Light of Mine: The Life of Fannie Lou Hamer
  • The Friendly Shakespeare: A Thoroughly Painless Guide to the Best of the Bard
  • The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman
  • The Ox-Bow Incident
  • Eyes on the Prize: America's Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965
  • Alistair Cooke's America
  • Dorothy Dandridge
  • Born on the Fourth of July
  • The World Must Know: The History Of The Holocaust As Told In The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Days of Grace: A Memoir
  • When The Legends Die
  • Promises Beyond Jordan
  • Jonah's Gourd Vine
  • The Living Planet
  • Great Tales and Poems
  • Looking Backward
119048
Was a groundbreaking American photographer, musician, poet, novelist, journalist, activist and film director. He is best remembered for his photo essays for Life magazine and as the director of the 1971 film Shaft.[2]

Parks also performed as a jazz pianist. His first job was as a piano player in a brothel.[9] His song "No Love," composed in another brothel, was performed over a national radio broad
...more
More about Gordon Parks...
A Choice of Weapons Half Past Autumn A Hungry Heart (A Memoir) Voices in the Mirror Eyes With Winged Thoughts

Share This Book