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Black history through poetry for children: Maya Angelou

To close out Black History Month and to get ready for National Poetry Month in April, bring the poetry of Maya Angelou into your home and classroom. "Poetry for Young People Maya Angelou", published by Sterling Publishing, provides twenty-five of Angelou's most powerful poems.

African-Americans' historic struggles captured in poetry.

At the age of three Maya Angelou and her brother Bailey were sent to  live with their grandmother in Stamps, Arkansas. In this small southern town, Angelou learned what it was like to be a black girl in a restricted white world. As a whole the poems in this book speak of the African-American struggle with prejudice and discrimination and of how adversity can be overcome with personal dignity, courage, and spiritual strength.

Included in this book are the poems "Forgive" and "A Georgia Sky" which reflect her memory of living in an unyielding segregated town. Also included is "A Brave and Startling Truth", the poem she read and wrote to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the founding of the United Nations.  This poem embodies her strong belief that "...every man and every woman/we can live freely without sanctimonious piety/Without crippling fear,".

Jerome Lagarrigue beautifully illustrates each poem and captures in his illustrations the soulfulness Angelou breathes into them. The editor of the book, Edwin Graves Wilson, Angelou's colleague at Wake Forest University, provides headnotes for each poem and definitions on the bottom of each page for words that might be unfamiliar.

The reading level is for ages nine to twelve but these poems should be read aloud for all to hear the power, honesty and hope encapsulated in them.

In Chicago this book is available at www.thelearningtreechicago.com

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