Written by: Maya Angelou
Illustrated by: Jean-Michel Basquiat
Edited by: Sara Jane Boyers
For Ages: 4 and up
Topics Covered: Courage, Fear, Social-Emotional Learning.
Summary: This book is the poem of the same title by Maya Angelou, coupled with the profound paintings of Basquiat. By having the illustrations fairly abstract, it allows the reader to transpose their own life onto the lines of the story. The line “life doesn’t frighten me” appears often, creating the ability for students to repeat out-loud and use almost as a mantra to build courage. Some lines are more tangible fear, such as a new classroom. Some lines are more whimsical, about fearing a fire-breathing dragon outside the window. Overall, an important story for young children about being brave and a fantastic addition to any collection!
My class of 4-5year olds really connected with this story, and wanted to hear it over and over. It’s a great introduction to social-emotional learning as well as poetry and prose. The simple lines can provide many opportunities for conversations, and is easily memorized by young children.
- What scares you?
- How have you overcome a fear in the past?
- How could you help a friend that was feeling afraid of something?
- Who helps you feel less afraid?
Continuing the Conversation:
- Have children draw creatures that can defeat their fears. Have them draw themselves being brave with their creature!
- Try writing a poem as a class, or in small groups. Do you want to use rhyming words? What will your poem be about? Explore different styles of poetry and decide which type you like best!
About the Author, the Illustrator & Editor: