Monday, May 17

Finding Langston + Langston Hughes Unit

May 22, 1967 - Langston Hughes shuffles off this mortal coil. His ashes are interred at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.

Langston Hughes was a leader of the Harlem Renaissance and one of the earliest innovators of jazz poetry.  Born in Joplin, Missouri (1901), he grew up in the Midwest and began writing at a very young age.  As a young man, he moved to New York City, studied at Columbia and Lincoln Universities, and began his career as a writer.  His writing was heavily influenced by folk and jazz rhythms, and you can hear these in the 'listen' section below.

Hughes wrote plays, short stories, and poetry.  From 1942 to 1962, he wrote weekly columns in a black newspaper, The Chicago Defender, regarding the civil rights movement.  He was a source of inspiration for black people during this time, stressing racial consciousness and encouraging African-Americans to embrace their black pride.  

The Harlem Renaissance was a time of blooming intellectual and artistic developments in African-American culture.  Langston tried to honestly portray black lives, avoiding negative stereotypes, but also diverting from the idealization.  He wanted to see black people as people who had difficulties and celebrations just like everyone else.


  • Finding Langston
    • It's 1946. Langston's mother has just died, and now they're leaving the rest of his family and friends. He misses everything--Grandma's Sunday suppers, the red dirt roads, and the magnolia trees his mother loved.  In the city, they live in a small apartment surrounded by noise and chaos. It doesn't feel like a new start, or a better life. At home he's lonely, his father always busy at work; at school he's bullied for being a country boy.  But Langston's new home has one fantastic thing. Unlike the whites-only library in Alabama, the Chicago Public Library welcomes everyone. There, hiding out after school, Langston discovers another Langston--a poet whom he learns inspired his mother enough to name her only son after him.
  • Collected Poems of Langston Hughes



Make / Do


  • drone
  • drowsy
  • syncopated
  • mellow
  • dull
  • pallor
  • weary
  • ebony
  • ivory
  • melody
  • sway
  • rickety
  • melancholy
  • tone
  • chord
  • satisfy
  • croon


  • How did life in Harlem during the 1920s, 30s, and beyond influence Langston Hughes's work? How did he incorporate the cultural, societal, and political realities of the time into his writing?
  • Langston Hughes unabashedly wrote about the hardships faced by Harlemites during uncertain economic and political times. However, he was criticized for oversimplifying his depiction of African Americans and the societal inequities they faced. Do you think his critics were correct in their opinions? Why or why not?

Looking for a literature-based language arts program? The Twenty-Three Reads Bundle is for someone who wants a little bit of everything! 

It includes twenty-three unit studies covering a wide range of topics. Each unit has introductory text, which will give the student basic background information about the topic at hand. These studies are directed toward upper grades students, but some have resources for younger students so that the whole family can work together.
  • There are photographs and illustrations, and we have also included primary documents when available.
  • After this text, there are featured videos, which augment the background information and help make the topic more accessible for more visual students.
  • You will also find a short list of reading books, including a featured novel that the unit builds upon.
  • There are vocabulary words, places, and people to identify.
  • Reading comprehension, critical thinking questions, and writing assignments are included.
  • We add fun with hands-on activities and extra videos to watch that will bring the era to life.
  • Language Arts
    • Finding Langston & the Poetry of Langston Hughes
  • Geography
    • Anne of Green Gables & Canadian Provinces
    • Stowaway & Antarctica
    • Julie of the Wolves & Alaska
    • Blades of Freedom & the Louisiana Purchase
    • The Avion My Uncle Flew & France
  • History
    • Zlata’s Diary & the Slavic Wars
    • Freedom Summer & the Summer of 1964
    • Treasure Island & Pirates of the Caribbean Sea
    • Farenheit 451 & Types of Government
    • Red Stars & Russia in World War 2
    • The Great Gatsby & the Roaring Twenties
    • The Long List of Impossible Things & Post-War Germany
    • A Tale of Two Cities & French Revolution
    • Witch of Blackbird Pond & Salem Witch Trials
    • The World Made New & Early Explorers
    • Stitching a Life & Jewish Immigration
  • Life Skills
    • Teetoncey & Lifesaving Skills
    • Freak of the Week & Disabilities Awareness
    • Island of the Blue Dolphins & Sailing
  • Science
    • The Science of Breakable Things & the Scientific Method
    • Frankenstein & Human Anatomy
    • Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation & Albert Einstein

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