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Book Review of Love to Langston by Tony Medina and R. Gregory Christie

Written by Jen J., Museum Educator


In Love To Langston, Tony Medina constructs a biography of Langston Hughes through 14 original poems. Each poem is written in the voice of Hughes and explores key moments in the poet’s life. The poems trace the racism Hughes experienced as a child, his educational pursuits, his travels across the globe, and his love of the art that made him famous: poetry. Coupled with the poems are illustrations by R. Gregory Christie that place the poems in context and allow young readers to engage with the poetry. At the end of the work are notes providing additional historical context and depth for each poem.

Medina’s poems allow students to connect with Langston Hughes in a unique way. The biographical poems that highlight school bullying and special family moments showcase universal childhood themes. The poems are written in a clear style that make them easily understood by children of all reading levels. The vibrant illustrations provide another layer that draw students in and serve as additional interpretation for each poem.

Medina’s joining of history and poetry will appeal to young readers with varied reading interests and make the work appropriate for history and language arts classrooms. While students unfamiliar with Hughes or this era in American history may not understand all of the poems, the notes at the end of the book clarify the themes addressed in each poem. The broad historical scope of the poems serve as a stepping stone to teach children about the Jim Crow laws, segregation, and the Harlem Renaissance.

Most useful for teachers and parents is the classroom guide found on the Lee and Low Books’ website. It contains pre-reading questions, vocabulary lessons, and writing strategies to accompany the book. These strategies can be used in the classroom or at home to supplement the content. Medina’s biographical work will inspire readers of all ages to seek out Langston Hughes poetry for themselves.