A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
"Believe in yourself, trust you are enough." You are capable of more than you know. Never let anyone take you voice away. There's power in your words. Your story matters.
Positive Role Models
Maya Angelous is an outstanding role model. She was a survivor of trauma, singer, author, and poet. She championed equal rights in America. Her dedication to story telling has changed many people's lives. Above all, Maya displayed perseverance throughout the book.
Maya Angelou is African American. Features diverse characters from different time periods in the United States and Africa. Characters are of different ages and socioeconomic status, and have varying skin tones.
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Violence & Scariness
The book describes but does not illustrate the Ku Klux Klan looking for Maya's uncle in order to harm him. Author Renée Watson refers to the trauma Maya suffered as a 7-year-old child by saying simply: "her mother's boyfriend/ hurt her body, hurt her soul." This trauma caused Maya not to speak for five years.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Maya's Song is a picture book of poems that celebrate the life of world renowned poet and activist, Maya Angelou. Written by Newbery Honoree Renée Watson (and illustrated by Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award winner Bryan Collier (All Because You Matter), the book transports readers. Maya's Song tells the story of Angelou's life in free verse, including lots of little-known facts about her extraordinary experiences. Themes of the book include perseverance, using your voice, and believing in your power. The book describes but does not illustrate the Ku Klux Klan looking for Maya's uncle in order to harm him. And there's a reference to the trauma Maya suffered as a 7-year-old child that caused to to remain silent for five years, when "her mother's boyfriend/ hurt her body, hurt her soul."
Is It Any Good?
This book is a profound experience for readers young and old, alike. Maya's Song includes important facts about the poet in both the main text, an author's note and illustrator's note, and a timeline -- such as being the first Black woman to appear on a U.S. quarter and the first women to deliver the presidential inaugural poem (at President Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1993).
The beautiful collage art, a mix of photographs and watercolor paintings, engages readers. And the story honors a "Black girl whose voice / chased away darkness, ushered in light."
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.