Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Langston Hughes: The Voice of Harlem

Langston Hughes: The Voice of Harlem

Brenda Haugen
Nonfiction  Series
For ages 10 and up
Compass Point Books, 2006   ISBN: 0756509939

Langston Hughes had a difficult childhood. His father was not a part of life most of the time, and his mother had a hard time providing for her son. For some years Langston lived with his grandmother in Kansas until his mother was in a better position to care for him. Langston was often lonely, and he sought and found refuge in the local library. Books did not disappoint one or let one down. They gave Langston the means to escape the world – for a little while at least.

Langston did well in school and his father wanted him to go to college to get a degree in engineering. But for Langston there was only one thing that he really wanted to do. He wanted to write. Refusing to give in to his father’s wishes Langston found a series of jobs that just about kept him fed and clothed. He met all kinds of people, and he often saw how people of African descent were discriminated against – particularly in America. Racism pained him but there was nothing that he could do about it – except to write the poetry that he loved to create. Using his poems he was able to tell the world how painful and cruel racism is.

In this excellent Signature Lives biography, the author gives her readers a rich and colorful picture of what Langston Hughes’ life was like. Readers will also get a clear sense of what the poet’s world was like and how hard it was for a person of color to make their way in that world.