Home > memoir > Letter to My Daughter

Letter to My Daughter

  • Author: Maya Angelou
  • Publisher:  Random House Trade Paperbacks
  • Published: October, 2009
  • Pages: 192
  • Language: English
  • Format:  PDF + EPUB
  • Price: $8.62

Dedicated to the daughter she never had but sees all around her, Letter to My Daughter reveals Maya Angelou’s path to living well and living a life with meaning. Here in short spellbinding essays are glimpses of the tumultuous life that taught Angelou lessons in compassion and fortitude: how she was brought up by her indomitable grandmother in segregated Arkansas, taken in at thirteen by her more worldly and less religious mother, and grew to be an awkward six-foot-tall teenager whose first experience of loveless sex paradoxically left her with her greatest gift, a son.

Whether she is recalling lost friends such as Coretta Scott King and Ossie Davis, extolling honesty, decrying vulgarity, explaining why becoming a Christian is a “lifelong endeavor,” or simply singing the praises of a meal of red rice, Maya Angelou writes from the heart to millions of women she considers her extended family.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

From the mellifluous voice of a venerable American icon comes her first original collection of writing to be published in ten years, anecdotal vignettes drawn from a compelling life and written in Angelou’s erudite prose. Beginning with her childhood, Angelou acknowledges her own inauguration into daughterhood in “Philanthropy,” recalling the first time her mother called her “my daughter.” Angelou becomes a mother herself at an early age, after a meaningless first sexual experience: “Nine months later I had a beautiful baby boy. The birth of my son caused me to develop enough courage to invent my life.” Fearlessly sharing amusing, if somewhat embarrassing, moments in “Senegal,” the mature Angelou is cosmopolitan but still capable of making a mistake: invited to a dinner party while visiting the African nation, Angelou becomes irritated that none of the guests will step on a lovely carpet laid out in the center of the room, so she takes it upon herself to cross the carpet, only to discover the carpet is a table cloth that had been laid out in honor of her visit. The wisdom in this slight volume feels light and familiar, but it’s also earnest and offered with warmth.  Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


It’s a book to give to one’s daughter, mother, son or father, but definitely one to be read and savored.”—Baltimore Sun

Sound advice, vivid memory and strong opinion . . . What is clear is that [Maya] Angelou is, all these years later, still a charmer, still speaking her mind.”—Washington Post Book World

A slim volume packed with nourishing nuggets of wisdom . . . Overarching each brief chapter is the vital energy of a woman taking life’s measure with every step.”—Kirkus Reviews

Written in Angelou’s beautiful, poetic style, the essays feel like warm advice from a beloved aunt or grandmother, whose wisdom you know was earned.”—Fredericksburg Free Lance—Star

Spellbinding . . . Angelou delivers with her signature passion and fire. . . . Each [essay] delivers a powerful message.”—Rocky Mountain News

About the Author

Poet, writer, performer, teacher, and director, Maya Angelou was raised in Stamps, Arkansas, then moved to San Francisco. In addition to her bestselling autobiographies, beginning with I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, she has also written a cookbook, Hallelujah! The Welcome Table, and five poetry collections, including I Shall Not Be Moved and Shaker, Why Don’t You Sing? From the Hardcover edition.

Most helpful reviews

Absolutely inspiring; I couldn’t put it down

By Story Circle Book Reviews

“I gave birth to one child, a son, but I have thousands of daughters. You are Black and White, Jewish and Muslim, Asian and Spanish-speaking, Native American and Aleut. You are fat and thin and pretty and plain, gay and straight, educated and unlettered, and I am speaking to you all. Here is my offering to you,” writes Maya Angelou in the introduction of her inspirational new book Letter to My Daughter. The following pages are full of stories and life lessons Angelou has learned over eighty years. “I have only included here events and lessons which I have found useful,” the famous poet writes. “I have not told you how I have used the solutions, knowing you are intelligent and creative and resourceful and will use them as you see fit.”

There are few books that I love so much I would read again. This is one of them. I got Angelou’s Letter to My Daughter in the mail around 4 p.m. and finished it before bed. I read it to my children as they played, read it after they had gone to sleep, and far into the evening hours. Angelou’s words were so poetic and musical I felt as if she were speaking directly to me. I learned of her best and worst moments in life, her ideas about love, death, violence, patriotism and spirituality. I really liked how she illustrated an important situation in her life without telling the reader what to take away from the scene.

My favorite story was when Angelou visited the famous actress Samia in Sengal. Angelou had heard that women in Egypt did not let their guests walk on their gorgeous Persian rugs and decided to test her hostess. She noticed the other guests at Samia’s party were not stepping on the rugs and believed Samia had informed them not to do so. So Angelou walked on them, back and forth, back and forth. The other guests smiled at her weakly. Angelou engaged in a conversation with a fellow writer and barely noticed the maids rolling up the rug and replacing it with an equally beautiful floor covering. The maids covered the rug with place settings and dinner. Angelou had been walking all over their table cloth! She was so embarrassed she could barely eat. “In an unfamiliar culture, it is wise to offer no innovations, no suggestions, or lessons,” Angelou wrote.

Here is one of my favorite paragraphs in the book: “You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud. Do not complain. Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution.”

Letter to My Daughter is a gem of wisdom and inspiration. Every woman should read it at least once. This book has become a permanent fixture in my personal library.

by Jennifer Melville

for Story Circle Book Reviews

reviewing books by, for, and about women

A reference guide to life

By R. Gregersen

Wonderful book – it was a quick read with several short stories. I want to know more, more, more….what happened after lessons – Maya tells you the story, but not her lesson learned. I also almost see it as a testament of her life and her goodbye book – you feel the wisdom, age, and desire to pass it on before it’s too late. As soon as I finished it, I started reading it again….I think this book will become a reference guide of sorts for me.

Read, be inspired and be courageous!

By J. James Mahon

This is the perfect book! At only 166 pages, it is short but every single page is filled with interesting stories and valuable advice. I recently read a quote that said, “Timid women don’t make history.” Maya Angelou lives her life boldly and with courage and has been making history for many decades. There are too many inspiring stories to mention them all but below are some of the lessons that I will carry with me as a source of inspiration.

  • You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them.
  • Be certain that you do not die without having done something wonderful for humanity.
  • Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.
  • Never whine. Whining lets a brute know that a victim is in the neighborhood.
  • Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking and you might find a new solution.
  • Be charitable. Being charitable doesn’t always involve a monetary gift; you can be charitable with a smile and a kind word.
  • Kids make mistakes; its ok to love them through it
  • When you are genuinely proud of your children, you give them permission to be proud of themselves.
  • Miracles can happen through prayer.
  • When people ask, “How are you?” have the nerve sometimes to answer truthfully.
  • A friend may be waiting behind a stranger’s face.
  • Each of us must care enough for ourselves, that we can be ready and able to come to our own defense when and wherever needed.
  • You are never too old to find true love.

Ms. Angelou advises that Courage is our greatest attribute. Read, enjoy, be inspired and be courageous!

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