Written By: Maya Angelou

Narrated By: Maya Angelou

Date: January 2011

Duration: 10 hours 12 minutes


Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide. Her life story is told in the documentary film And Still I Rise, as seen on PBS’s American Masters.

Here is a book as joyous and painful, as mysterious and memorable, as childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings captures the longing of lonely children, the brute insult of bigotry, and the wonder of words that can make the world right. Maya Angelou’s debut memoir is a modern American classic beloved worldwide.
Sent by their mother to live with their devout, self-sufficient grandmother in a small Southern town, Maya and her brother, Bailey, endure the ache of abandonment and the prejudice of the local “powhitetrash.” At eight years old and back at her mother’s side in St. Louis, Maya is attacked by a man many times her age—and has to live with the consequences for a lifetime. Years later, in San Francisco, Maya learns that love for herself, the kindness of others, her own strong spirit, and the ideas of great authors (“I met and fell in love with William Shakespeare”) will allow her to be free instead of imprisoned.
Poetic and powerful, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read.

“I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings liberates the reader into life simply because Maya Angelou confronts her own life with such a moving wonder, such a luminous dignity.”—James Baldwin


  • Penny W.

    There is a reason this book is a classic. Mayo Angelou’s prose is beautiful, especially as I listened to her speak in the audiobook. Her story as a young black girl growing up in the South gives us a viewpoint of American history that isn’t taught in textbooks. She describes her trauma as a little girl would, her understanding, or misunderstanding, of her relationship with her stepfather and others in and out of her life. Her story is honest so a few times, it can be somewhat graphic, but only because that is her story. I enjoyed the book. I’m not sure about the ending. I was on this life journey with her and the ride had to stop at some point (with the birth of her son), but I felt it was maybe a bit rushed. I would have liked to have heard more about her journey as a young unwed pregnant girl. This book is full of great quotes: “Better to have a good mind than a cute behind.” “People who have nothing to do become busybodies.” “I wouldn’t pee on her if she were on fire.”

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful.

  • Robin Schultz

    What a life! Maya Angelou is a role model! Why look to the celebrities today for who to be like? When we have this amazing women! She has an incredible talent to remember what happened to her as a kid. And such vivid memory for her. A must read! I can't wait to to read her other books!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful.

  • Kate S.

    It was so nice to hear this book read by Maya Angelou herself.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful.

  • Susan Y.

    Fabulous. And narrated by the author is a bonus that adds authenticity

  • Thomas C.

    Incredible memoir. Suggestion: Read along WITH Maya Angelou as she so eloquently tells her story. Not a better way to spend your time. You feel like you've been invited into her home and privy to a 1:1 with a grand person. The book (her very own story) and the audiobook (her very own narration) . . . Wow!

  • Michael P.

    Maya Angelou was a world class teller of memoir & a first class narrator, it's a pleasure to listen to her rich velvety voice.

  • Pam K.

    Magnificent! I loved every minute and was sad when it ended. Thank you Maya!!

  • Catherine S.

    If you, like me have read this book, don’t dismiss the opportunity to hear the author read it. It has been a totally different book and an honour to listen. I’m sure I will listen again.

  • Madeline R.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the book, especially as it was read by the author. I would recommend that everyone hear Maya Angelou’ s words read by her.

  • Sandra T.

    Why did I wait so long to read this?! I might add, hearing it read by Mya Angelou gave it a deeper dimension than reading the written word. I , however, would find it still a wonderful, valuable piece of literature

  • Charles B


  • Sharon W

    Loved it. I didn't want the book to end. While the stories don't necessarily flow together as in some books, they portrait they weave provokes deep emotion and thoughtful contemplation.

  • Thomas Forrest

    A very captivating memoir. Maya Angelou perfectly portrays the desired tone of her life story. The listener can see the transformation all throughout the book as Angelou grows older, and even as she reads aloud the very story she penned revealing her childhood struggles to the world.

  • Cardon Slater

    I didn't want the story to end. This novel was amazing , sad, and courageous. R.I.P Maya Angelou.

  • Marilyn Fox

    Excellent narrative poetically written with detailed description that is spellbinding. Interesting and very sad story revealed by Maya Angelou of the discrimination of Afro Americans in the south during that time. Narrated by the author herself made it even more compelling.

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by Maya Angelou

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I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
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