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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

(Maya Angelou's Autobiography #1)

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  442,542 ratings  ·  12,081 reviews
Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide. Her life story is told in the documentary film And Still I Rise, as seen on PBS’s American Masters.

Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wo
Paperback, 289 pages
Published November 1993 by Bantam Books (first published 1969)
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Erica I was assigned to read this book for the first time in 5th grade. It's age appropriate. I don't think it's inappropriate. It's not vulgar. It' address…moreI was assigned to read this book for the first time in 5th grade. It's age appropriate. I don't think it's inappropriate. It's not vulgar. It' addresses REAL issues though. (less)
Jyothy M jaganathan It is available on too late for the answer though, I guess! :)

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Arthur Graham
Nov 29, 2013 marked it as to-read
I must confess I've read precious little Angelou in my time, but I'll never forget the day she tipped me $20.

It was some random gray day in Marquette, Michigan, must've been the winter of '00, and I was washing dishes as usual at the downtown Landmark Inn. Someone tapped me on the shoulder and said, "hey, there's a VIP coming in, put on your bellboy hat and head out front." I didn't put on my bellboy hat because I didn't have one — just the same dirty, drenched apron I wore every day in that yea
Mar 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. It was required reading for a University course I took on Adolescent Literature.

This book has been placed on banned book lists by needlessly close-minded people for it's real life content.

The book tastefully addresses issues of molestation, rape, racism. But it does so within the context of the trials and tribulations of growing up as well.

The book presents things in a direct and extremely vivid fashion, but it is not garishly or needlessly graphic. These are issues
Maya Angelou was a poet and Nobel laureate who once gave an address at President Clinton's inauguration. Before she won her multitudes of awards and honors, Maya was raised in rural Stamps, Arkansas by her grandmother and uncle during the depression. First published in 1969 and now considered a modern classic, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings details Angelou's tumultuous childhood in poignant detail.

Born Marguerite Johnson and often called Ritie, Maya and her older brother Bailey were taken to l
Jan 27, 2009 rated it really liked it

My mother could never really speak to me about the abuse she suffered as a little girl - the closest we came to talking about her experiences occurred when we read this painful and important book together. I imagine that Maya's book has allowed countless women who have suffered similar horrors an opportunity to know they will never be alone in their pain. And perhaps, like my mother, an opportunity to begin to heal by sharing their story with a loved one.

RIP, Maya. Your words have made this plan
Nandakishore Mridula
Caged Bird

A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

The above poem by Maya Angelou (n
Angela M
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks

Even before I started listening to this audio book, I could hear Angelou’s voice, deep and distinctive. I remember seeing her on tv at some point in the past and notably, even though a while ago, when she read a poem she had written for President Clinton’s inauguration. This autobiography of her early years from age four through sixteen makes for a tough story at times, but an amazing telling of it. At four years old, she and her brother Bailey are sent to Stamps, Arkansas to live with their pat
Bionic Jean
Jan 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bionic Jean by: Donald
I have only ever given 5 stars to two autobiographies. One was written by a white English man; the other by a black American woman. On the surface you would think they could have very little in common, yet they do. They both have insight and compassion, which comes through in every sentence. They have both shown enormous courage in almost intolerable situations. In short, they have a common humanity. The white man is Terry Waite. The black woman, Maya Angelou.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by M
I was sitting on a bench as I enjoyed the last bits of warm sunlight the dying summer was oozing out, scrutinizing a newspaper while calculatedly assuming a thoughtful gaze.

This little girl ran up to me. She said "Mister, mister, I know why the caged bird sings!"

I looked up from reading the financial news. "That's great kid. Now run along, can't you see I'm busy?"

I turned back to reading on how poorly the economy was doing. There’s nothing like reading bad news to feed the intellect.

"But miste
Jan 23, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
May 2014: I wrote this review a year and a half ago. It is written from the perspective of a parent who cares about what her teenage children read in school. I hope it may be useful to other parents, teens, and anyone else who cares about content and wants to make informed decisions about what they read. I received mostly negative reactions to my review, but also a few positive comments which encouraged me. After a year of dealing with it all, I wanted to be done and move on, so I closed the com ...more
Dilushani Jayalath
" My tears were not for Bailey or Mother or even myself but for the helplessness of mortals who live on the sufferance of life"

How apt are these words and how true they ring? People really do take their lives for granted. It is of course a suffering. From birth to death. We should be shedding tears for the complete ignorance we carry ourselves for the reality the world offers which we fail to see, yet is it worth it? All those tears.

It would be considered in a certain fact that reading this bo
The first of a series of autobiographies by Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is simultaneously heartrending and inspiring. This beautiful memoir of Ms. Angelou’s years as a child up to the age of seventeen exemplifies the resilience of a strong human spirit. Living with her grandmother, uncle, and brother in the segregated state of Arkansas during the 1930’s and early 1940’s, Maya, or Marguerite as she was called, was forced to deal with abandonment, racial prejudices, and grievous ...more
Elyse  Walters by Maya Angelou

I wasn’t a passionate reader in High School- -the handful of books I did read (“Valley of The Dolls”, “The Catcher in the Rye”, “Franny and Zooey”, “The Handmaid’s Tale”, and “I Know Why Bird Caged Sings”,), were each books I ‘do’ remember reading that stayed with me all these years.

Always on the lookout for good Audiobooks these days...(fitting nicely with my daily-to-do’s - especially with my duties as house keeper & gardener maintenance of our busy AirBnB in
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all of us
Recommended to Jaidee by: Bionic Jean
4.5 "lyrical, poignant, honest" stars !!!

2018 Honorable Mention Read.

This was a wonderfully written beginning to Ms. Angelou's six volume autobiography. I had been wanting to read this for many years and Jean's gorgeous review pushed me over the edge to add this to my shortlist.

Ms. Angelou's writing appears effortless and clear. The emotions and honesty ring through and you walk alongside her childhood and feel for her pain, enjoy her laughs and cheer her on her adventures.

I love that she po
I'm quite ashamed that it's taken me this long to read this book. Maya Angelou is so inspirational to many people so reading about her childhood and adolescence was really special. I found her autobiography tragic and also hopeful at the same time. Things have changed a lot since Angelou's childhood, such as segregation, and colourism in the black community (to an extent). The fact that she went through that period of history and is alive to see the first Black president in US history is just wo ...more
J.L.   Sutton
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”

Image result for maya angelou

“Hoping for the best, prepared for the worst, and unsurprised by anything in between.”

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the first of Maya Angelou's seven autobiographies, is an engaging and remarkable memoir. It is the story of Maya (Marguerite) from the age of three until sixteen (along with her one-year older brother, Bailey Jr.). After the collapse of their parents' marriage, Maya and Bailey are sent to Depression-era Stamps,
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maya Angelou ends her story of her youth with the birth of her son and that is a fitting ending for with a child comes an adult's responsibilities; although, she was only a teenager when she had him and had only had one very hasty and unsatisfying, almost impersonal, sexual experience to gain that son. It feels a bit abrupt when you are reading it, I had a son, the end.

She had a disjointed upbringing with much movement between households, all over the country, ending up in San Francisco, by way
Perfect. A Masterpiece.

Hype Lit Bookclub.

Around the Year In 52 Books: A book inspired by real events.

2018 Popsugar Reading Challenge: A book with an animal in the title.
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Honest story, inspiring.

Childhood memories, living in Arkansas with grandmother, later in St. Louis with mother. Sexual abuse when she was eight years old. Brother Bailey, there love and support, hopes for the future. Back to San Francisco with mother, questioning herself about her sexuality. She was the first African-American to be hired to work on the the transportation department at the age of seventeen.
Jul 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
A damn goodread!

#painful & #powerful

Maya Angelou`s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a tough and difficult one, yet at the very same time, an inspiring book. A 'must-read'.

"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."

Many a time, while reading the book, it feels like Maya lived this life so that she can share her life experiences with others around her, and for those who will come to this world after her...
Violet wells
Dec 16, 2020 rated it liked it
I have little interest in the conventional autobiography. It's a genre I associate with celebrities on the make for more publicity and more cash. There's also the sense a good novelist could condense all the relevant information in any autobiography into a couple of chapters and save us the chore of wading through 350 pages. It seems strange that through an autobiography we can, superficially, learn more about a stranger than we know about our own mother and father. It feels strange and it also ...more
Feb 12, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, usa
Read along with a friend.

Enjoyed it but it was another coming of age story which I have read a lot recently. Got a little boring for me at times. Loved the writing but probs wont pick up the next couple of books.

Apr 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: autobiography
The first of Angelou's series of autobiographies and a powerful account of growing up and coming of age in 1930s/40s America. In the background and foreground are racism, violence against women and the problem of identity. It is written with clarity and great force; there is no hiding from what you are reading.
It would be superfluous to sum up the book or outline its contents; it should be read. So I will just add a few thoughts and reflections.
Beacuse of the strong brother/sister relationship,

In this first in her series of autobiographies, Maya Angelou shares the story of the early years of her life up to the age of seventeen. This memoir is more than just your average story, or even an average memoir because it’s so poignant, so honest and yet shared through such lovely prose that it is hard for me to categorize it as just any one thing.

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, to her father, Bailey Johnson, who was a naval dietician and her mother, Vivian Baxter Johnson, a nurse, her given nam
Julie Ehlers
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was Maya Angelou’s first book, and as I was reading I recognized how revolutionary it must have been when it was released. There was (and still is) a whole world of people with little conception of what southern, rural black people went through before and during the civil rights movement (and while I’ve read more on this topic than some, I would include myself in that number), so seeing that time and place reflected here has undeniably been extremely valuable for ...more
Jan 10, 2009 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: noone
Recommended to Stephanie by: Classics Bookclub at 5 Minutes for Books Blog
Shelves: 2009, classics, memoir
When I picked up I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou I knew two things:

1. The author is friends with Oprah and the Clintons.
2. The book is considered a classic.

The book is mostly set in the tiny town of Stamps, Arkansas. I lived much of my childhood within an hour's drive of Stamps so I found that detail very interesting.

The account of life as a Negro (the term Ms. Angelou uses) in rural Arkansas was fascinating. Some of it brought to mind memories of my own childhood (though I am "l
Oct 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a personal account told in the voice of a child cleverly reconstructed by an adult narrator. Through the observations of Maya, the child, comes a coming-of-age story - a social record of a young black female growing up in the 1930s. As an historical document 'Caged Bird' covers the bigotry, cruelty, oppression and the constant threat of death that constituted daily life in the South.

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed fo
Oct 06, 2007 rated it really liked it
In her nonfiction autobiography, Maya Angelou describes her life from her young girl life up to the birth of her first child at age 16. The book drew me in at the very beginning because of the talent Angelou has with language, scenery, and loading the moment with emotion. Another intense draw for me was the fact that it is a nonfiction book. I was constantly thinking I can’t believe she had these experiences.

(SPOILER ALERT)When Maya turned three, she and her brother, Bailey, went to live with h
“Children's talent to endure stems from their ignorance of alternatives.”

When Angelou grew up and discovered the alternatives, she did everything in her power to stop simply enduring and tell the world what was still happening in the supposedly emancipated American South (although not only the South).

Nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, a Tony award and other honours, she became a much-loved and outspoken champion of her people, lauded by Oprah Winfrey in the introduction to the edition I read.
The free bird leaps

on the back of the wind,
and floats downstream
till the current ends,

and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays,
and dares to claim the sky.

The caged bird sings
with fearfull trill
of the things unknown,
but longed for still

and his tune is heard
on the distant hill for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

But a caged bird stands on the
grave of dreams,
his shadow shouts on a
nightmare scream,

his wings are clipped and his
feet are tied,
so, he opens his throat

Ahmad Sharabiani
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is a 1969 autobiography describing the early years of American writer and poet Maya Angelou. The first in a seven-volume series, it is a coming-of-age story that illustrates how strength of character and a love of literature, can help overcome racism and trauma. The book begins when three-year-old Maya and her older brother are sent to Stamps, Arkansas, to live with their grandmother, and ends when Maya becomes a mother
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Maya Angelou, born Marguerite Ann Johnson April 4, 1928 in St. Louis, Missouri, was an American poet, memoirist, actress and an important figure in the American Civil Rights Movement. In 2001 she was named one of the 30 most powerful women in America by Ladies Home Journal. Maya Angelou is known for her series of six autobiographies, starting with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, (1969) which was ...more

Other books in the series

Maya Angelou's Autobiography (7 books)
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