Maya Angelou’s birthday is April 4th, and we’re celebrating the famed activist by sharing a list of five of her must-read poetry books.

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969)

Perhaps Angelou’s most famed book, it is both full of pain and joy. The book captures memories as mysterious and memorable as a childhood itself. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings is about the longing felt by children in adolescence, as well as bigotry and wondrous words that can make the world right.

And Still I Rise (1978)

And I Still Rise is a collection of powerful, distinctive and fresh poems, full of rhythms and rhymes about love and remembering. Truly written from the heart, the poems share Maya Angelou’s discovery and celebration of life.

The Heart of a Woman (1981)

This book is about Maya Angelou’s journey from California to New York with her son, Guy. In New York, Angelou enters into a world where being a black artist and writer is embraced. She begins to read her work in Harlem and takes part in the struggle of Black Americans for equal rights. Behind the scenes, her personal life has taken a turn, and she goes to London and Cairo to discover new opportunities.

On the Pulse of Morning (1993)

This hardcover version encapsulates the poem that made history.  In 1993, Angelou read On the Pulse of Morning at Bill Clinton’s inauguration, making her the first African American and woman to read at a presidential inauguration. The poem captured the nation and instantly became a bestseller.

Mom & Me & Mom (2013)

Angelou’s previous books and poems have chronicled the story of her life. Now, at last, she shares her deepest story: the story of her relationship with her mother. In Mom & Me & Mom, Angelou reveals the good and the bad of being the daughter of Vivian Baxter, a petite woman who’s larger-than-life presence was absent during much of Angelou’s early life.