To discuss Courage, Bruce and Sara sat down with Lesa Cline-Ransome. Lesa is the author of Read to Them title, Finding Langston, the first part of a trilogy that follows three young Black boys as their lives intersect in 1940s Chicago. The trilogy continues with Leaving Lymon and concludes with Being Clem. All three of the boys are in Chicago as a result of the Great Migration of families out of the Jim Crow South into cities in the North, looking for better opportunities. That act of leaving home behind and venturing to a new and unknown place represents a huge act of courage, one undertaken by millions of Black families in the early to mid-20th Century. Lesa’s books are filled with characters that show other acts of courage – big and small. During our conversation, Lesa discussed how she wrote these novels first to be great stories. Themes like courage arise as the stories unfold.
During this wonderful conversation, we learn more about Lesa’s writing process, including how Finding Langston, the stand-alone novel, became Finding Langston, the first book of an interconnected trilogy. We also learn about how she found the courage to write these novels after spending her career as an acclaimed picture book author. Lesa also shared touching personal anecdotes from her family history – growing up in a house with music; a father who migrated North but didn’t really like to talk about it; and a mother who still reveres Joe Louis. She also shed light on a critical playground scene that she uses to anchor the trilogy, replaying it in all three books. That pivotal scene shows readers why it is so valuable to understand a story from more than one point of view. Lesa was so generous with her time and her insights, and we love the books even more after talking with her.