Celebrate Banned Book Week – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Sep 25, 2008

Posted by Doris

Banned Books Week
Celebrating the Freedom to Read
September 27’October 4, 2008

Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too.


banned books,banned books

As we approach Banned Book Week, I’ve been asking readers to take the opportunity to read at least one book on the list. Today, I’d like you to consider reading I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou.

First, let me say that this book is one of my favorites, but if you are considering reading this you might consider reading this with friends. This book does touch on many sensitive subjects, and I found that I had to talk about it. It’s that good, and that thought provoking.

This is a wonderful story of a young girl coming to age in the American South. This autobiography of the great American poet, Maya Angelou, depicts the pain that she and her brother Baily endure as their family is torn apart by divorce and their lives by racism. In the home of her paternal grandmother, Momma, the Angelou children learn about life, family and eventually love.

This book does contain scenes where the children are treated horribly, including the rape of Maya. It’s on the list of books for 2007 because it is “Sexually Explicit”. If my young child wanted to read this book I probably would steer them away from it. Older children and teens should read this book with a trusted adult to help them understand the difficult subjects. I would not ask to have it removed from the library because the issues in this book need to be addressed.The problem with book challenges is that the adult wants the book removed from ALL who enter the library, not just one.

Which brings up another point. Banned books are still able to be purchased, but if you are the poor child growing up in Stamps, AK (as did Maya Angelou) you’d have one place to get your books. The library. Removing books from public libraries or school libraries keeps these books from the hands of children who might otherwise not be able to read them.

Please take some time this week to read a banned book. I’ve suggested a few and will suggest more, but it’s your freedom you are protecting.

More banned book talks to come this week, and starting on Monday we’ll discuss ways to celebrate banned book week. For those of you in Chicago you can attend the “Banned Book Week Read Out.” You can read about it here

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.

Maya Angelou

3 Responses to Celebrate Banned Book Week – I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Avatar Image says:

What a great book recommendation. This really is a true classic that everyone should read at some point in their lives. The concept of banned books is so fascinating to me. While I can understand why parents, teachers, etc. might feel the need to shelter younger readers from certain material, telling them they CAN’T read something only serves to stunt their knowledge and creativity. Instead of banning books, we need to find a ways to present these books and subjects in environments where the issues can be examined, understood and addressed, instead of just trying to hide them in a dark corner. I truly believe that by banning books, we only advance the negative forces in the world, instead of combat them.

Avatar Image says:


This is a wonderful book! I am incredibly fond of it and have read it many times!

I don’t understand banning books, I do understanding wanting my kids to wait to read a book so we can read it together. If I had a 12 year old daughter, I’d read the book with her. Then it becomes an opening to important concepts that she should hear about and I’d want to teach her.

If a book is banned from a library it’s taken away from EVERYONE.

Thanks for popping in!


Avatar Image says:

Doris, that sounds like such an amazing book to read! It seems like so many books these days that are contested are those that contain sexual or mature content. I even saw “Speak” on the list of 100 most contested books this century, which shocked me a bit as it is something that I remember taking out from my own school library and it was a very good book. I think too many people these days are trying to control what children read because it is one of the few things that they can really control. Books can influence people so much, and it is understandable that some parents are concerned about what their children read. However, I do not believe that striving to get books banned is the right way to go about expressing their concern, and it merely fuels the fire.

Will you be posting about what happened in Georgia last year and this year, with Laura Mallory trying to get Harry Potter banned?

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