One of the most banned books of all time - Mollie Godfrey
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Many of the themes in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings are also prevalent in Angelou’s highly acclaimed poetry. To learn more about her inspirational 1978 poem, “Still I Rise,” check out this Learning for Justice lesson that guides you through the poem’s use of figurative language and imagery. Angelou is also well-known for delivering the inaugural poem at President Bill Clinton’s 1993 presidential inauguration. Follow along with this PBS Newshour lesson to hear Angelou reading the poem and to unpack the poem’s autobiographical elements. You can also learn more about how Maya Angelou has inspired others by listening to this radio program on the legacy of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, or by reading this New Yorker review of Angelou’s work as a memoirist. Do you want to learn how to write your own memoir just like Maya Angelou? Check out this TED Ed lesson to get started!
Efforts to include works like I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in school curricula are grounded in the work of Carter G. Woodson, the early 20th century Black historian who would become the man behind Black History Month. You can learn more here about how his work—alongside the demands of Civil Rights Movement activists and young students of color—led to the rise of the multiethnic and multicultural education movements in the 1960s and 1970s. You can also find out about recent programs to support diversity in young people’s literature at We Need Diverse Books and Diversity in YA.
To find out about other frequently banned and challenged books, check out the website of the American Library Association's Office for Intellectual Freedom (OIF). You can dig into other works of literature that speak out against censorship in this TED Ed lesson on Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel, Fahrenheit 451. Finally, don’t miss this interview with Toni Morrison about her 2009 edited collection of essays by fellow writers whose works have been frequently banned or challenged, called Burn This Book.
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