Saturday, June 28, 2008

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings: The Importance of Books

Maya Angelou often talks about the love of reading she and her brother, Bailey, shared in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. It was an activity they truly enjoyed, and they'd read together in the evenings in Stamps, Arkansas, whenever possible:

"There was going to be a storm and perfect night for rereading Jane Eyre. Bailey had finished his chores and was already behind the stove with Mark Twain."
~I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou


"Pots rattled in the kitchen where Momma was frying corn cakes to go with vegetable soup for supper, and the homey sounds and scents cushioned me as I read of Jane Eyre in the cold English mansion of a colder English gentleman. Uncle Willie was engrossed in the Almanac, his nightly reading, and my brother was far away on a raft on the Mississippi."
~I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou

These are warm and secure moments as the children (and Uncle Willy) are engrossed in their books (before the arrival of an unexpected visitor, Mr. Taylor). The importance of books in Maya Angelou's life was central; she credits her adult friend, Mrs. Flowers, for her lifelong love of reading, who, in Maya Angelou's words, "had given me her secret word which called forth a djinn who was to serve me all of my life: books."

Also see post, The Power of Books.
Your comments and questions are welcomed.


  1. I agree that reading is a great gift. The Museum of Natural History in New York defines civilization as a society which is literate. We take literacy mostly for granted in the U.S., but it's hard to achieve and maintain a literate society. We are so fortunate to enjoy this blessing!

  2. Literacy is extremely valuable. Thanks for your comment, Randy.


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