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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings Mass Market Paperback – April 21, 2009
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In this first of five volumes of autobiography, poet Maya Angelou recounts a youth filled with disappointment, frustration, tragedy, and finally hard-won independence. Sent at a young age to live with her grandmother in Arkansas, Angelou learned a great deal from this exceptional woman and the tightly knit black community there. These very lessons carried her throughout the hardships she endured later in life, including a tragic occurrence while visiting her mother in St. Louis and her formative years spent in California--where an unwanted pregnancy changed her life forever. Marvelously told, with Angelou's "gift for language and observation," this "remarkable autobiography by an equally remarkable black woman from Arkansas captures, indelibly, a world of which most Americans are shamefully ignorant." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
If your originals of these two popular titles (LJ 9/1/78, LJ 3/15/70, respectively) have seen better days, these reprints offer affordable, high-quality replacements.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The theme of this book is the quest for the child to be loved by the adult. Maya feels inferior. She feels ugly and compares herself to her magical brother Bailey. Both children are starved for true affection and daydream a white movie actress on the screen is their long lost mother.
Maya and her brother are eventually united with "Mother Dear" in St.Louis when she is eight. Unfortunately Mother's boyfriend begins to abuse Maya(...). This is graphically portrayed in the book. Maya's feelings of not belonging and not being truly loved are compounded after the abuse.
I admire all the autobiographical books by Ms.Angelou. She has achieved a lot in her life for a person who started out in such a sad situation.
This book should be read and re-read.
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings:
Smiling Through Sadness
Maya Angelou’s first memoir, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, captures the sweetest, purest, and the most honest inner voice of a black child who grew up to be a heroine. Dr. Angelou does not censor anything; She wants us to know it all. It is so true, straightforward, and uncensored that many white parents have attempted to ban this book from schools. This memorable and mysterious autobiography - originally published in 1969 - was followed by another masterpiece entitled: Gather Together In My Name. Both books are available in audio format recorded by Random House Audio. It is amazing that we can hear Dr. Angelou reading her own books to us just like a grandmother putting us to sleep with her adventurous bed-time stories.
Dr. Maya Angelou, who has been honored and awarded numerous times, is a pure soul writing about the evil world of the racist America keeping a matching voice on each chapter of her life. When she is writing about her experiences as a five-year-old, you hear a five-year-old talking to you. Being one of the most recognized public figures and a civil rights movement’s heroine, Maya Angelou, gives us a poetic journey of how a poor disadvantaged black girl was rejected by everyone including her own mother, raped by her mother’s boyfriend, and had to witness his crippled uncle hiding under a pile of onions and potatoes to be protected from racist white beasts on a regular basis. The good news is that the story of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings does not end here. This bird sings her heart out until the cage breaks and she becomes our national treasure.
This powerful modern American classis has changed many readers’ (and listeners’) hearts and minds in a way that every great work of literature should. This book became the best-seller immediately after it was published. What added to my personal itch to read this book when I was first introduced to it was the fact that Dr. Angelou has described William Shakespeare as one of her strongest influence on her life and works. Shakespeare is my all-time favorite “pennist.”
Buy it, read it, keep it, reread it, highlight it, talk about it, advertise it, buy more of it and give it out as a gift, learn from it, and apply what you’ve learned from it in your daily life. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings is coming from a heart and soul of someone who had to witness the unnecessary, harsh, and brutal insults that no ordinary human being can bear. Maya Angelou writes the story of a human who was pushed to her limits by the ugliness of this world and while being in a saddest cage, sang the happiest song. Once precious Maya Angelou told her younger generation that seem to be unable to cope with the racism in the past and present:
“You should be angry. You must not be bitter. Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. It doesn’t do anything to the object of its displeasure. So use that anger. You write it. You paint it. You dance it. You march it. You vote it. You do everything about it. You talk it. Never stop talking it.”
After their parents' separation, young Marguerite (her given name) and her brother, Bailey, are sent to live with their strong-willed grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas, deep in the segregated South. Angelou also describes her time spent with her other grandmother in St. Louis, as well as her young adulthood in San Francisco. The overall time period of the book overlaps that of World War II.
"I Know..." offers important insights into the world of racial segregation, and painfully records the toll taken by racism in its various forms. Also powerful and important is Angelou's recollection of surviving a brutal sexual assault when she was a child. Angelou recalls vividly the authors who made an impact on her during her childhood and young adulthood: James Weldon Johnson, Edgar Allan Poe, William Shakespeare, and others. The book concludes with her sexual awakening as a young woman.
"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" is an American classic which has lost none of its power in the 30 years since it first appeared. Angelou's prose is direct and personal, and marked with passages of wit and beauty. For scholars of African-American literature, women's studies, or literary autobiography, this is an essential volume.
This book talks about life - the good, the bad, and the (definitely) ugly.
Is it appropriate for a 4th grader? Probably not.
Is there anything in it that an 8th grader shouldn't be able to handle? Not really.
Do I think this should be required reading in high school instead of being banned by scared parents who are worried about their delicate little flowers having an understanding of the bad parts of our society and history? ABSOLUTELY.
I WISH this had been one of the books I had to read for high school English - if you are wanting this book banned, you are doing a severe disservice to the kids who should be reading it to get a much better understanding of the world.