Poet Study: Maya Angelou

by Jimmie Lanley on February 16, 2012

In the past our poetry study has been regular¬†in timing but haphazard in selection. We worked through chapters or randomly chose poems from an anthology. But now that Sprite is in middle school (7th grade), I am moving towards the method Charlotte Mason recommended — studying one poet per term (like we study artists and composers).

maya-angelou-poet study

Poet this term -- Maya Angelou

This term we are studying Maya Angelou.

My selection was not at all scientific. At my local public library, I went to the juvenile poetry section and found all the books they had in the Poetry for Young People series. I laid them on the table and let Sprite choose which one. She chose Maya Angelou.

She is a personal favorite of mine, and although Charlotte Mason never had the benefit of reading Ms. Angelou’s poetry, I feel sure she would approve of modern selections among our classics.

I really like the Poetry for Young People series for poet study because so much of the work has been done for me.

  • There are plenty of poems to get a good feel of the poet’s style.
  • The poems have been specially chosen both to represent the poet and also to suit children.
  • The book is a picture book that is beautifully illustrated.
  • There is a biographical article about the poet.
  • Each poem has a brief introductory remark that helps with understanding it.

One of the advantages of studying a modern poet is the ability to hear and see her read her poetry. I selected two such videos plus two additional biographical videos for Sprite to watch. You can access them at Maya Angelou Poetry Study.

maya-angelou-notebook page

Notebooking for Poet Study

I had Sprite use the author notebooking pages to take notes about Angelou.

I’d love to hear which poet you are currently studying or otherwise how you are incorporating poetry into your homeschool. Leave me a comment.


{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Eddie - The Usual Mayhem February 16, 2012 at 8:07 am

My preschool sidekick has developed a fascination with A A Milne’s poems, most notably “Tiddley pom”. My 11 year old switches between Louis Carroll’s poetry and nature-related poetry to fit the seasons. It makes for some interesting dinner recitations.


Sybille February 16, 2012 at 10:41 am

Hi Jimmie, my son (7th g) is studying Goethe. We read and discussed together some of his poems and pieces, learned about his life (we saw a film online), listened to audiobooks… He then writes some thoughts or a summary.
I know my blog is not so good to read for you (German or Italian) but you can take a look at the pictures (or try the google-Englisch with the translation button):
Ciao from Italy!


Dana February 16, 2012 at 1:01 pm

I love those books, too! And, if we homeschool again next year (which is likely!), I’d love to incorporate the study of poets!

By the way, my sister-in-law shared a stage as a speaker alongside Maya Angelou a few years ago! Wish I could have been there!!!


Barb-Harmony Art Mom February 16, 2012 at 6:50 pm

We are tackling Langston Hughes….sort of a complicated poet of the 20th Century since it has led to learning about the Harlem Renaissance period which led to art, politics, and music. Ben is loving it but Hughes is a poet that needs to be savored and in context. Definitely a good pick for high school.


Nadene February 17, 2012 at 3:37 am

How similar – I also decided to study one poet instead of using an anthology this year! We started William Wadsworth Longfellow’s poems. Ambleside Online has all his works to download free, so I didn’t have to purchase books or worry about obtaining his poems, and there’s stacks of info at the Poetry Foundation
But it is always lovely to have poet’s books with all the visual/ artistic connections. (Did I correctly spot Georgia O’Keefe’s painting on the cover of your poetry book?)


Charlotte Mason in the City February 20, 2012 at 9:32 am

Thank you for the link to the Maya Angelou Poet Study site. I will make use of that. Maya Angelou is one of my favorites. A couple of days ago, I happened upon a radio special program she hosted, and I thought to myself that I needed to include her poetry in my life more often. So your post is very timely for me, and I look forward to introducing her to my kids.


Dawn February 21, 2012 at 7:12 am

What fun. I need to get back to some poetry. We started the year off great but got sidtracked. We love the poetry for young people series.


Dawn February 21, 2012 at 7:14 am

Hey, I just noticed. You are still hooked up to my old blog at homeschool blogger. I moved a year or so ago to http://www.my4sweetums.blogspot.com.


Tammy Glaser February 21, 2012 at 7:25 am

We are reading Emily Dickinson, and I already have several favorites. A dear, sweet gentleman from our church died last week. We made a card for his lovely widow out of one of my daughter’s watercolors (it makes me think of C.S. Lewis’ wood between two worlds) and I put Dickinson’s “The Lost Jewel” on the inside. I love “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant” and “If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking.”

When we lived in Alaska, I also feel in love with the rugged poetry of Robert Service.


Jenny February 21, 2012 at 5:45 pm

Hoping over from the CM carnival. We’ve really enjoyed studying one poet per term. Poetry for Young People is one of our favorite resources to get us started. Currently on Lewis Carroll. Thanks for sharing; we haven’t gotten to Angelou yet ; )

Hope to come back soon,


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