The first in a series of autobiographical works, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is the most famous and acclaimed book by Maya Angelou, a poet, memoirist and civil rights activist who grew up in the South during the 1930s and California in the 1940s. Published in 1969, the story spans her childhood from age 3 to 17, following young Maya and her older brother Bailey as they bounce from their parents’ care to their grandmother’s and back again. Maya struggles not only with feelings of chronic displacement and insecurity but also a series of heartbreaking challenges: insidious racism, molestation and rape. Caged Bird was nominated for the National Book Award and is still beloved for its revolutionary depiction of what it meant to be young, female and black in America.
Autobiography / Memoir
Self-Help / Instructional