A Children’s Book, Especially For Today – by Maya Angelou

My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me

Did you know that Maya Angelou wrote a children’s book?  She did, back in 1994.  I have been reading her book to my preschoolers long before I really knew of her.

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I was always drawn to her quote in the introduction of the book:

To all the children, for they are the hope of humankind.

This statement was so profound, so direct, and so right.  It crawled under my skin and made me think.  Hard.  Every time I read the book, I read the quote.

Hope is my word for 2021.  Hope was Maya Angelou’s word throughout this book for children.  Hope was always her beacon, and her message.  It is mine, too.

The story is of a child in South Africa, her family, and her best friend, a chicken.  Maya tells a tale that is engaging to children and full of interesting facts.  She manages to weave words that are as powerful as they are simple:

All children are hope for their families, and many Ndebele girls are named Hope.  If you like, you can call yourself Hope, too.  In secret, of course.

Many years after finding and reading this book, I also came across  more of Maya Angelou’s powerful words.  She says things with few, well chosen words that make a difference.  She is an ember that lights a fire.  These are her words that made a difference for me:

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty-five years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I was a live guest on the Kelly Clarkson Show. I am highlighted in the seventh edition of Jim Trelease's million-copy bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital, and the Massachusetts State House in Boston.
This entry was posted in Book Review, books, children's books, Diversity, Expressing words and feelings, Inspiration, picture books, Quotes, self esteem, Teaching young children and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

85 Responses to A Children’s Book, Especially For Today – by Maya Angelou

  1. srbottch says:

    The last quote, WOW! How true is that? Very nice, Jennie! Have a great day!

  2. Ritu says:

    I didn’t know she wrote a children’s book!

  3. quiall says:

    She has been a spark for millions of people all over the world. Perhaps she will be remembered as the voice of our generation. I would like that.

  4. I did not know she wrote a children’s book. I love her theme of hope. ❤

  5. Darlene says:

    I love Maya Angelou and her wise words. I was not aware that she wrote a children’s book but not surprised either. I´m sure it´s very good.

  6. No, I didn’t know that Maya Angelou wrote a children’s book! I love the passage that you quoted:

    “All children are hope for their families, and many Ndebele girls are named Hope. If you like, you can call yourself Hope, too. In secret, of course.”

  7. All great quotes, and wise words to live by. 😀

  8. LOVEEEE Maya Angelou! I didn’t know she wrote a children’s book, but I’m not surprised. I want to get Amanda Gorman’s children’s book too. She too is a powerful black female poet who will move the world with her art. I guess I need to go find this book now

    • Jennie says:

      I was really surprised when I found this book. Who knew Maya Angelou wrote a children’s book? Yet, I shouldn’t have been surprised. It is good! Amanda Gorman’s new book “Change Sings” sounds wonderful. The illustrator, Loren Long, is one of my favorites. I don’t think it’s coming out till fall? It is definitely on my list!

  9. Very rich post…filled with ‘hope’ just in the reading of it. To add to your observation that many South African children are named Hope – it seems to be a common denominator name in several African nations. A family I worked with in Horse Therapy adopted a Ugandan girl and kept her given name – Suvi – (not sure of the spelling) because it was her mother’s last wish/blessing and message to her little girl. That being: HOPE.
    Hugs, teacher.

    • Jennie says:

      I love your story! Hope, tradition, and family is a perfect trilogy. Yes, hope! How wonderful that you were part of her life. Maya Angelou’s book is just what we need right now. Thank you, Laura. 🥰

  10. A. L. Kaplan says:

    Reblogged this on alkaplan and commented:
    From my friend Jennie.

  11. I hadn’t known about this book; thanks, Jennie. And I love this quote!

  12. beetleypete says:

    The last quote is so full of insight. Lovely post, Jennie.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  13. This is so exciting! I love Maya Angelou, definitely going to get this book whenever I have children

  14. Dan Antion says:

    Children are the hope, and we realize the possibilities when they grow in the love of family and of teachers like you, Jennie.

  15. Love this book! I purchased it for our library children’s collection when it came out.🥰

  16. I have often repeated that quote about not forgetting how you made people feel, but all these years I didn’t know whose quote it was. So thank you for that, Jennie.

  17. Carla says:

    I did not know this Jennie. You many students have been lucky to have heard this book over the years. Maya Angelou was a woman who spoke so inspirationally.

  18. petespringerauthor says:

    Her words always leave me thinking. I love the last quote, and it makes me think of some of my former teachers. I don’t remember any of their lessons, but I recall how they made me feel.

    • Jennie says:

      As much as I love quotations, the only one I have mounted and hanging is this one. I see it and read it every day- thank goodness. I like your remembering of former teachers. I often think of a handful, and how they made me feel. Miss Pinson and her music, Mr. Ianello the only teacher who didn’t make me feel stupid in math. How they make you feel carries a child like a swift ship.

  19. I did not know about Maya’s children’s book, Jennie… Thanks so much for sharing. It is surely one of those must-read/share/discuss treasures! 💞

  20. Thank you for the very interesting information. Will have a look on it. Have a beautiful weekend, Jennie! Best wishes, Michael

  21. Norah says:

    Maya Angelou is an inspiration. I love that last quote you shared. I have her beautiful picture book in my collection. I bought it in New York. 🙂

  22. sjhigbee says:

    No… I didn’t know that Maya Angelou wrote a children’s book. And thank you for sharing that wonderful quote at the end.

  23. dgkaye says:

    No I didn’t know Maya wrote a children’s book, but thank you as I’d love to get a copy for my little niece ❤

  24. How interesting that Maya wrote a children’s book. Did she have family in South Africa that she chose to write about a child living here?

  25. orsykora says:

    Beautiful! I need to find a copy of this book!

  26. Raj SJ says:

    Really Nice book!

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