“Any book that helps a child to form a habit of reading, to make reading one of his deep and continuing needs, is good for him.”–Maya AngelouLast week I was talking with a friend about what books and stories we held on to in our hearts long after we read them. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was high on the list. Through this book, Maya Angelou graciously and courageously brought to light the struggles she faced growing up as a black woman in the 1930s and 40s. Her spirit shines through her writing, and she refused to let tradition dictate her place in the world.
Growing up was a lot easier for me. Books held a place early on in my life. Our mother read to us. Each of us became avid readers and my sisters and I still share a love of books and the power of story. What we found in books helped to shape us. It tied us to our past and showed us futures we dreamed would come true. We walked in the shoes of others through reading, others like Maya Angelou. Her passing today at age 86 leaves us saddened but enriched.
Good-bye, Maya Angelou. Thank you for gracing us with your own love of life. You created beauty, clarity, and awe with words. Your books and poems have inspired all of us. You have helped to shape new generations of poets and storytellers, as well as leaders and visionaries. Thank you for fiercely claiming your own special place in the world.
In Maya Angelou’s own words, “The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.” She certainly succeeded.
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