• I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

  • By: Maya Angelou
  • Narrated by: Maya Angelou
  • Length: 10 hrs and 11 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (8,612 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 about love for herself and 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 is a modern American classic that will touch hearts and change minds for as long as people read - or listen.

©1969 Maya Angelou (P)2010 Random House

Critic Reviews

" 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)
“A beautiful book - an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.... Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative.” ( Kirkus Reviews)
“Simultaneously touching and comic.” ( The New York Times)

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What listeners say about I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Emotional & Powerful

I dont know if I should be admitting this but I am, this was my first Maya Angelou book. I mean, I remember reading this book in early grade school but as a child I could have never grasped the meaning. Reading this story now as an adult I appreciate her honesty. Her narrative tone placed me by her side. I walked with her, laughed with her, hurt with her, and hugged her. This story took me to the place when I questioned my placement in the world and my natural beauty. I applaud Maya Angelou for being ever so brave to share her story. This story has encouraged me to always remain true to myself, seek the guidence of the Lord , and never never lose my faith. Thank you for writing this story.

104 people found this helpful

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loved it!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

yes, already have. triumph over adversity, an amazing story of the human experience at its worst and very best.

What was one of the most memorable moments of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings?

my most memorable was, as children, Maya and her brother Bailey laughing uncontrollably during church service when the preacher's false teeth fell out onto the floor.

What about Maya Angelou’s performance did you like?

her narration colored the story so vividly that I could often imagine exactly what these places, faces and things would be and feel like.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I felt the highs and lows of the human experience as Maya may have wanted her audience to. I never cried, but surely did laugh when it was funny. I felt a greater appreciation for Ms. Angelou and the amazing light she was to so many, myself included.

Any additional comments?

its a long audiobook, but worth the listen as so much of our life's journey takes twists and turns we can only understand in retrospect, this book shared the hope that we are given life's lemons to make amazing lemonade.

29 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Just like listening to Grandma tell you stories

If you could sum up I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in three words, what would they be?

Real
Horrific
Delightful

What did you like best about this story?

I loved the glimpses allowed into the mind of Maya, the way she thought, the way she saw the world.

Which scene was your favorite?

"Preach it!"

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Several moments in this book were life-changing for Maya, but hearing her tell them was life-changing for me.

Any additional comments?

It's difficult to hear of the hardships and struggles of a young girl, but it is also good to see the strength and resilience of the human spirit.

28 people found this helpful

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  • KG
  • 07-28-14

So good.

If you could sum up I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings in three words, what would they be?

Raw honest writing.

What does Maya Angelou bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Just hearing the voice of the person who had the experiences in the book adds so much.

26 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Pretentious, conceited, self-important

Is there anything you would change about this book?

Maya should have listened to other audiobooks and found out how much a good reading of a book enhances that book. Her self-reading was the worst narration I have heard and interfered with my enjoyment and appreciation of the book. I read the critical praises of the book and asked myself if they were reading the same book. When I filtered out the effect of her narration, I appreciated the book more.

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

Her cross-bearing, chip-on-her-shoulder attitude and beliefs are at once both the most interesting and least interesting aspect of the book. She thinks she is the only one in the world that had to struggle and overcome. She will probably attribute my lack of appreaciation of the book to my white skin.

How could the performance have been better?

Her jerky performance could have been improved by having any professional reader do the performance.

If this book were a movie would you go see it?

No. It would be very difficult for a screen writer to make it an interesting movie.

20 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Blahh

That's it, no more audio books narrated by the author. I know that we speak her name, and may she rest in peace, but in my opinion, Maya Angelou's reading of her own work was horrible. It was as if she forgot her reading glasses and was struggling to read the words. I found it very annoying.
I did not enjoy this book.

17 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Amazing! Awesome!

I love Maya Angelou!
Her voice and her story are incredible. Listening to her tell it is like having my own private sessions with this incredible woman.

17 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • SJ
  • 10-18-14

Maya was a great writer; not so much reader

What did you like best about I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings? What did you like least?

It was hard to get through as the author was a TERRIBLE reader. She ruined her story with her dreadful performance.

Would you be willing to try another book from Maya Angelou? Why or why not?

Not with her reading it.

Would you be willing to try another one of Maya Angelou’s performances?

Absolutely not.

Any additional comments?

Great example of stick to what you're good at.

16 people found this helpful

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Inspirational!

What made the experience of listening to I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings the most enjoyable?

Definitely having the author narrate the book.

What other book might you compare I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings to and why?

The Color Purple

Have you listened to any of Maya Angelou’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have listened to her poetry. Never an entire book. It was great! She became every character.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I understood it better with the author reading it. Through her voice I was more aware of how she experienced various situations.

16 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Expected More, but Good Nonetheless

What did you like best about I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings? What did you like least?

I loved Maya Angelou's reading of the book. The story was interesting but not riveting because it simply listed and did not delve into events.

Was I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings worth the listening time?

It was, if only to become more acquainted with Maya Angelou.

15 people found this helpful

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