Learning Tree

Request Book Kit

Book & Author

The Learning Tree
Discover what it was like to grow up as a young minority boy in a Kansas community during the 1920’s through the words of this book.
Published in 1963, 230 pages.

Gordon Parks

The life of Gordon Parks is truly remarkable,  a story of rising from poverty to become a groundbreaking photographer, writer, composer and director.  This video from Thomas D. Bradly provides a good introduction to his life.

For a more in depth interview with Gordon Parks, watch this video from CBS.

Quote from the Book

Our race is not the best liked in the world, and we know it, but our class is determined that this will not keep us from from going forward.  We are proud to be black.


Topics this book will bring up for discussion include:

  • Why did Gordon Parks choose “The Learning Tree” as the title?
  • Does Sarah Winger, Newt’s mother, do a good job of raising him and advising him throughout the book?
  • What strengths and and weaknesses do you see in the marriages, such as Jack and Sarah’s and Rende and Clint’s portrayed in the book?

More discussion questions and a study guide are available from Prestwick House

Additional information
Kansas Reads the Learning Tree by the Kansas Center for the Book
The Gordon Parks collection at Pittsburg State University in the Leonard H. Axe Library.
Not Without Laughter by Langston Hughes
Rite of Passage by Richard Wright
Manchild in the Promised Land by Claude Brown