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Celebrating the Poet and Author Maya Angelou

Dr. Maya Angelou was a renowned poet and storyteller who wrote for children and young adults as well as for adults. Here you'll find a selection of her poetry and writing for young people, as well as anthologies of poetry by African American poets.

In addition, teachers may be interested in exploring Dream in Color, a curriculum for teaching essential African American poetry to students — from the Poetry Foundation, developed in partnership with James Madison University, Dr. Angelou, and the Target Corporation.

Quotable Quotes: The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go. -- Dr. Seuss

Amazing Peace: A Christmas Poem

By: Maya Angelou
Illustrated by: Steve Johnson, Lou Fancher
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Originally read at the 2005 White House tree-lighting ceremony and published as a Christmas book for adults, Angelou’s stirring poem is presented alongside convivial winter scenes in a picture book intended for young readers, but whose message and splendid artwork will appeal to all ages. Angelou celebrates the spirit of the season — a time to learn to look beyond complexion and see community — with a resonating call for hope, unity, and, above all, peace. [Booklist]

I, Too, Sing America: Three Centuries of African American

By: Catherine Clinton
Illustrated by: Stephen Alcorn
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

This chronological collection includes work by such poets as Phillis Wheatley, W. E. B. Du Bois, Arna Bontemps, Maya Angelou, Rita Dove, along with twenty others. The verses, introduced with biographical information, reflect the African-American struggle for equality from the early 1800s to the present. The textured illustrations, done in muted tones, capture the drama and strength of each poem. [The Horn Book]

Kofi and His Magic

By: Maya Angelou
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

A young Ashanti boy invites readers to visit his West African village, famous for fine kente cloth, and to share his "magic" — a masterful imagination. Kofi is an engaging scamp whose vivid "daydreams" that transport him to other places will speak to children everywhere and present them with a clear vision of his beloved West African world. [School Library Journal]

Life Doesn’t Frighten Me

By: Maya Angelou
Illustrated by: Jean-Michel Basquiat
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Renowned poet Maya Angelou's text urges us to face what frightens us, whether it is real or imaginary. Haitian-American artist Jean Michel Basquiat's full-color paintings capture just how challenging it is to be brave.

My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me

By: Maya Angelou
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

"Hello, Stranger-Friend" begins Maya Angelou's story about Thandi, a South African Ndebele girl, her mischievous brother, her beloved chicken, and the astonishing mural art produced by the women of her tribe. With never-before-seen photographs of the very private Ndebele women and their paintings, this unique book shows the passing of traditions from parent to child and introduces young readers to a new culture.

Poetry for Young People: Maya Angelou

By: Maya Angelou
Illustrated by: Jerome Lagarrigue
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Twenty-five of Maya Angelou’s finest poems capture a range of emotions and experiences in this collection for young people, from the playful “Harlem Hopscotch” to the prideful “Me and My Work” to the soul-stirring “Still I Rise.” Award-winning artist Jerome Lagarrigue masterfully illustrates each verse, and renowned academic Dr. Edwin Graves Wilson, a longtime colleague of Dr. Angelou, has written the book's introduction, introductions to the poems, and annotations.

Words with Wings: A Treasury of African-American Poetry and Art

By: Belinda Rochelle
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

African-American poetry and art take wing and soar in this collection compiled by Belinda Rochelle. Poets and artists such as Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Rita Dove, Countee Cullen, Jacob Lawrence, and Paul Lawrence Dunbar powerfully explore themes of slavery, racism, and black pride, among many others. Named as one of the New York Public Library's "100 Titles for Reading and Sharing."

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