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New kids' biography series features black icon Maya Angelou

ICON: The late Maya Angelou

A QUIRKY kids biography series has brought civil rights campaigner Maya Angelou back to life with the aim to teach children that no matter what, they can achieve what you want to in life.

The latest titles in the groundbreaking new series, Little People, Big Dreams, focus on singer, actress, civil rights campaigner and writer Angelou, and pilot Amelia Earhart, the first female flier to fly solo across the Atlantic ocean.

LITTLE PEOPLE, BIG DREAMS: The Maya Angelou biography has been published by Frances Lincoln Children's Books

The unique book, which was written by Brooklyn-based writer Lisbeth Kaiser, includes a fact section in the back where you can learn about the inspiring woman.

A woman of many talents, Angelou was known for her civil rights work, as well as her literary offerings.

She was affectionately called 'Dr Angelou' even though she had never been to university, but did go on to become a professor.

Angelou was born on April 4, 1928, in St Louis, Missouri. She grew up between St Louis and the then-racially-segregated Stamps, Arkansas.

She famously dropped out of school at the age of 14 and went on to become San Francisco's first female African American cable car conductor.

Angelou later returned to finish her education and became a mother weeks after graduating. She was 17.

Still, her passion for performance and poetry remained strong, and she went on to tour Europe in a production of the opera Porgy and Bess; dance with the renowned choreographer Alvin Ailey; and record her first album, Calypso Lady in 1957.

The years that followed led her to Africa: first Egypt, where she served as the editor of the weekly publication The Arab Observer, and then Ghana where she taught at the University of Ghana's School of Music and Drama, worked as feature editor for The African Review and wrote for The Ghanaian Times.

During her time in Ghana, she met civil rights campaigner Malcolm X, and in 1964, Angelou returned to the US to assist him in building his newly founded Organisation of African American Unity.

Following X’s assassination in 1965 and the subsequent demise of his organisation, Angelou was enlisted by Dr King to be the northern co-ordinator for his Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

Left devastated by Dr King’s assassination in 1968, it was with the help of her friend, author James Baldwin, that Angelou began working on a book that became I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings; the iconic autobiography – the first of six – which charted the author’s early years, encountering racism, becoming a young mother and discovering her love of literature.

She died in May 2014.

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