We commence this year’s 28 Days Later Celebration with Vanguard Honoree, Dr. Marguerite “Maya” Angelou (1928-2014).
Maya Angelou is one of our nation’s most important literary voices. From I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Phenomenal Woman, to And Still I Rise and On the Pulse of Morning, the collective writings of Dr. Angelou reflect some of the most horrible and praiseworthy aspects of human nature and American culture.
But did you know she also wrote books for young children?
Here are four titles perfect for introducing young readers to the work of one of our country’s most treasured authors:
Life Doesn’t Frighten Me (Stewart, Tabori and Chang, 1993)
A unique book that combines the words of a renowned African-American poet laureate and the primitive, modern paintings of a young Haitian-American artist. With lines of verse that shout exuberantly from each page, a young voice rails against any and all things that mean to do her harm. Whether they are “Shadows on the wall/ Noises down the hall” or even “Mean old Mother Goose/Lions on the loose”-to one and all she responds- “they don’t frighten me at all”…A powerful exploration of emotion and its expression through the careful blend of words and art. — School Library Journal
My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken and Me (1994; Crown Books for Young Readers, Reprint ed. 2003)
A superb portrayal of Ndebele village life and art for young children. “Hello Stranger-friend” begins eight-year-old Thandi as she stands in front of a brightly painted house. In a thoroughly child-true voice, she tells about her beloved chicken, her people’s ideas of “good” (which is as close as they come to saying “beautiful”), their ways of making designs in paint or beads, her brother, and going to town. Courtney-Clarke’s full-color photographs are stunning…A unique book that honors Africa by projecting images that are true and honors American children by giving them the very best.—School Library Journal
Kofi and His Magic (Knopf, 1996)
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. Artistic typesetting composition is accompanied by appealing color photos that bring the lyrical text into sharp focus…will speak to children everywhere and present them with a clear vision of [Kofi’s] beloved West African world.—School Library Journal
Poetry for Young People: Maya Angelou (2007; Sterling Children’s Books, Reprint ed. 2013)
A collection of 25 poems written by Maya Angelou, including the inspirational Still I Rise and Me and My Work.
To learn more about Maya Angelou, visit her website here.