Top Picks: Celebrating Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou was a writer, poet, actress and singer best known for her classic autobiographical work, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Maya Angelou published seven books in her autobiography, in addition to several books, essays and poetry.

Born Marguerite Johnson on April 4, 1928, Maya Angelou adopted her stage name to stand out as a performer. She famously recited her poem On the Pulse of Morning at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton, and her fourth autobiographical book, The Heart of A Woman was a 1997 Oprah's Book Club selection.

As we approach her 90th birthday,  we celebrate the renowned poet and autobiographer as an undeniably important contributor to the American literary canon. 

Here are few top picks from Maya Angelou's collection. 

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

A staple of most high school reading lists, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is Maya Angelou's first autobiographical work. Told in an eloquent and lyrical tone, this work details Angelou's life as a southern black girl in Arkansas. 

The Complete Collected Poems of Maya Angelou

Billed as a complete collection of Angelou's poems, this book includes her famous On the Pulse of Morning and the Pulitzer Prize nominated Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore I Diiie.

Phenomenal Woman

Featured are four poems celebrating women in a collection aptly titled. Reading more like a ballad, Angelou defines what a confident woman should be and shows the world what makes her beautiful. 

To learn more about poetry, Celebrate National Poetry Month with CPL or checkout the Chicago Public Library's general recommendations.