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Finding Langston

(Finding Langston #1)

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  2,540 ratings  ·  628 reviews
In a debut historical novel about the Great Migration a boy discovers Chicago's postwar South Side and the poetry of Langston Hughes.

When 11-year-old Langston's mother dies in 1946, he and his father leave rural Alabama for Chicago's brown belt as a part of what came to be known as the Great Migration. It's lonely in the small apartment with just the two of them, and at sc
Hardcover, 112 pages
Published August 14th 2018 by Holiday House
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Average rating 4.33  · 
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 ·  2,540 ratings  ·  628 reviews

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On my ever evolving quest to find quality books for young readers, my goodreads feed lead me to a new historical fiction by Lesa Cline- Ransome, a veteran author of many picture books for younger children. Cline- Ransome has developed a historical fiction series for middle grade readers that takes them inside of the Great Migration and into northern cities in the 1940s. In this first book in the series, reader are transported to the Bronzeville neighborhood in Chicago’s southside at a time when ...more
Joanne Kelleher
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is such a special book, well-deserving of its Coretta Scott King Honor Medal. Cline-Ransome packed so much in a scant 112 pages!! Of course, what appealed to my nerdy self was all the library love. It is a love letter to the George Cleveland Hall branch of the Chicago Public Library, where Langston found himself in the writings of his famous namesake. It also portrays librarians in the very best light! The poems featured in the book were accessible for middle grade readers and provide a spr ...more
Jul 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Unlike a lot of historical fiction for children, this is actually a joy to read. Not a whole lot of giggles or such, but it's concise, immersive, and heartwarming, and just a great story. Our hero reads poetry *and* (when turning the other cheek doesn't work) puts the bully in his place. Lots going on behind the scenes, too, like the teacher's inability to control the class w/out screaming (and it's not even winter yet... how can she escalate to last the rest of the year?) and the question about ...more
Laura Harrison
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
One of my top favorite middle grade readers of the year. Beautifully written, warm and one children will enjoy. I hope it wins an award or two!
Jodi Meadows
Jan 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Just lovely. Langston is so pure.
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this story about a young boy reawakening his love of reading thanks to a public library and the poetry of his namesake.
Phil Jensen
Dec 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great, compact story about a boy in the Great Migration. I'm really impressed by the quantity of historical information Cline-Ransome was able to show in a very accessible way. The characters were well-drawn and interesting. The story was simple and direct, which I would say is a strength.

I think a lot of authors would approach this topic in a 300+ page epic that describes at least one year of time and goes into greater detail about all the historical concepts. I appreciate Cline-Ransome's restr
Feb 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Mini Me Rating & Review: The first part was really entertaining but I started to lose interest towards the end.
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I located Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome through the Scott O’Dell Award website ( It won the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction in 2019 and was also a Coretta Scott King Honor Book.

Eleven year old Langston and his father move to Chicago from Alabama after the death of his mother in 1946. Langston’s father is able to find work, but the living conditions are not great. They live in a kitchenette apartment in a crowded building that is not ma
One more "important" book in a year of "important" books. Shines a light on the Great Migration through a displaced southern boy in post-war Chicago. Can't help but love the library scenes. Otherwise, the story felt bland and something to get through and check off the box. ...more
Jun 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-readers
This young reader historical fiction gem is set in Chicago during the Great Migration. Middle schooler Langston moves from Alabama to Chicago with his father, but he misses everything about Alabama. In Chicago, Langston must adjust to his new life while coping with the loss of his mom; learn about new opportunities such as being able to use the public library while getting bullied at school for being a “country boy”; and nurture his love for reading while finding out the truth behind his namesak ...more
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
story of junior high aged boy and his dad moving from Alabama to Chicago in 1946. mom passed away n dad needed to get away from rural Alabama and memories. boy discovers the library and books help him through the transition. my 8 year old gave it 4 stars. authors husband is ransome, he did cover art.
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019
A beautiful story.

In 1946, Langston and his Dad move to Chicago from rural Alabama. His mother recently passed away and he is feeling a little lost in this big city. The city is so noisy and everyone calls him “Country boy” because he has an accent and wears overalls. He hasn’t made any friends and is experiencing bullying from a few kids in his class. In order to avoid the bullies, one day he goes a different way home from school and discovers the George Cleveland Hall Branch Library.

The libra
Stephanie Bange
Dec 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a story of a boy finding out who he is after the death of his mother.

Langston feels he was ripped from his home in Alabama and forced to move to Chicago with his father for a "fresh start". He feels alien in the city, it is so different from his country home in the South. While trying to avoid a bully at school, he stumbles upon the public library. Once Langston discovers the beauty of poetry by his namesake, Langston Hughes, and other Black poets, he is able to turn his world around.

Beth Anne
Feb 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021, audiobook, 2020
Re-read for teaching lit class. I just love this book so much. I really should pick up the rest of the series.

What a fantastic audiobook! We inhaled this story in just two days (it is short) and the kids were completely enthralled. Eleven year old Langston and his father moved to Chicago in 1946, part of the Great Migration looking for a better life for blacks in America post-WWII. They left their life as sharecroppers after the death of Langston's mother, but life in Chicago has chal
Susan Dove Lempke
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
A historical fiction novel set in the Bronzeville neighborhood of Chicago right after World War II. The main character (whose name we don't learn until part way through) deeply misses his late mother, and misses their Alabama home. Bullied at school and left alone a lot in the very bleak apartment he shares with his silent father, he finds comfort in the neighborhood library. For a librarian, this was a treat to read, and Cline-Ransome evokes the time, the place, and the poignant characters beau ...more
Sherry Guice
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It has been a long time since I've read such a moving book--short and lyrical and filled with pain and longing. Langston and his father move to Chicago after the death of Langston's mother. He discovers Langston Hughes and poetry as he copes with the pain and loneliness of his new life, far from Alabama and without his mother. ...more
Ms. B
This one had been on my radar for quite awhile; it was first published in 2018. I am not sure why I waited so long to read it.
Set in late 1940s Chicago and at only 112 pages; the story of how young Langston (view spoiler) learns about his namesake will be accessible to many young readers.
The writing is top shelf. Langston is a character to love and he is three dimensional with supportive adults and a class full of realistic behaving kids.

Love the window to the world the library plays in the story.
Leah Agirlandaboy
I highly recommend this perfect little book, and the audio version is exquisite. Just...wonderful all around. (It inspired my 6yo to run into the library and check out a book of kid-friendly Langston Hughes poems this morning, and if that’s not strong praise I don’t know what is.)
Dec 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2018
So lovely! Short but packs a punch.
Katelyn Patterson
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
My only complaint: I wanted more pages! Beautiful book!
Lorie Barber
Sep 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So SO happy the Illinois Bluestem committee choose Finding Langston as one of their 2021 picks! I missed Langston’s story the first time around, and I’m grateful I snapped it up today.
Seems like the world needs more stories like Langston’s: ones that help us understand the past so we can make the present and the future better. And for me, stories that remind me to keep supporting, amplifying, loving, and lifting up Black voices. Finding Langston resonates as much today as it did in the time dur
Laura Gardner
May 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
5⭐️ FINDING LANGSTON is a 104 page love story to poetry, public libraries, and family. ❤️ .
When Langston and his father move to Chicago after his mother dies, Langston misses Alabama and his mother fiercely. He is picked on for being “country” and hates their new life. Discovering the city public library is a revelation and leads him to discover his namesake, Langston Hughes and a secret about his mother. .
Perfect for reading aloud and using as a mentor text! Won the Coretta Scott King autho
Caroline Mickey
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Sensational. I struggle to love poetry, but following Langston's discovery of it and how it helps him adjust to a new life in Chicago after the death of this mother, made me love it a little more. ...more
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
He loves the library so much! 😭
Tiffany Hough
May 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
A lovely little gem of a book.
Annissa Joy Armstrong
Dec 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a very enjoyable book that touches on the loss of a parent, bullying, poetry, father/son relationship and the impact of libraries.
Jan 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Like young Langston's Mama in this story, my Mom also loved Langston Hughes and his poetry, and because she's also gone, these facts made reading this book a water-works kind of experience.
I miss you Mama <3

Thank you Lesa Cline-Ransome, this is beautiful and perfect.

I so wish I was this kind of a reader when I was young, like wee Langston here. Trying to make up for lost time now.
Amanda Workman
Jul 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-alouds
Short, beautiful book set in Chicago after WWII of a “country boy” and his father trying to make it in the city. Moving to Chicago from Alabama after his mother dies Langston finds the library is open to blacks. While running from bullies Langston runs in and finds a haven amongst the stacks and is drawn to poetry. He discovers his namesake and other black writers while also learning about the beauty of language that in turn, helps him not feel so homesick.
I picked this book up and did not put i
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  Listen up, because our colleagues here at Goodreads have some excellent audiobook recommendations for you! Of course, the books they've...
14 likes · 11 comments
“It's better to read in the library. Sitting at my favorite table by the window reading and listening to the sound of other folks turning pages makes me feel like I'm in a house full of company I don't have to talk to.” 7 likes
“The lady said the Langston who wrote these words is a poet. Seems more like a magician to me, pulling words from my heart I never knew I had" -Langston” 2 likes
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