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Harbor Me

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4.26  ·  Rating details ·  8,442 ratings  ·  1,730 reviews
Jacqueline Woodson's first middle-grade novel since National Book Award winner Brown Girl Dreaming celebrates the healing that can occur when a group of students share their stories.

It all starts when six kids have to meet for a weekly chat—by themselves, with no adults to listen in. There, in the room they soon dub the ARTT Room (short for "A Room to Talk"), they discover
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Hardcover, 192 pages
Published August 28th 2018 by Nancy Paulsen Books
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Tristan Regula Because it was a wonderful book capturing the meaning of friendship, family, and life. This is a completely rude, obnoxious, and absurd post. This was…moreBecause it was a wonderful book capturing the meaning of friendship, family, and life. This is a completely rude, obnoxious, and absurd post. This was an amazing book.(less)
Jessica Groen I think it is reference to "Casper the friendly ghost" a character from a tv show about a ghost that was troubled by the fact that everyone he tried t…moreI think it is reference to "Casper the friendly ghost" a character from a tv show about a ghost that was troubled by the fact that everyone he tried to make friends with would be frightened and nervous instead. Casper is a kind of honest term for a white person who does not understand why their individual friendliness is not enough to earn immediate trust and friendship from others. They need to learn more history to understand why whiteness signals danger to so many. (less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.26  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,442 ratings  ·  1,730 reviews


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Diane S ☔
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I don't often read books targeted for the middle school reader, but this is Woodson and I love how she tackles difficult subject. She does the same here, portraying six eleven and twelve year olds, all a different ethnicity, and from different backgrounds. All six have a harder time academically in school, for a few it is the language barrier, for another, not being able to be still. They are in an experimental classroom, and have an amazing teacher who sees a need, and fills it the best way. Sh ...more
Laurie  Anderson
This book has EVERYTHING - love, family, friends, middle school transitions, and the devastating realities faced by so many of our children in this country. It brought me tears, goosebumps, and gratitude that I'm alive in a world with people like Jackie Woodson.

Seriously - buy copies for your libraries and every family you know!
Chelsea (chelseadolling reads)
Listened to this one on audio from my library and REALLY enjoyed it. I particularly liked the interview section at the end!
Brina
What a difference a year makes. Last year was a nonfiction reading year for me, and at Thanksgiving I read Jacqueline Woodson’s new novella to jump start my fiction reading in the year ahead. In this year I have primarily been reading fiction to escape the reality that is life in 2020. My reading has taking me to many different times and places, providing me with a necessary respite from the world. Then there are Jacqueline Woodson’s books. Harbor Me is the sixth one of hers that I have read, an ...more
Bookishrealm
I'm convinced that I can never go wrong with Jacqueline Woodson. This is the third books of hers that I have read this year and I'm convinced that I'll read another before the year is over. As expected, Woodson always writes books that provide real life insight to things that affect children/young adults. As an advocate for them in the form of literature, I was not surprised by how much I enjoyed this book and how much Woodson makes readers think about how children/young adults are treated.

Harb
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Katie B
For a middle grade novel that is less than 200 pages, this story manages to cram in quite a few serious subjects including race, imprisonment, deportation, and the death of a parent. The ARTT Room (short for "A Room to Talk"), is a place where 6 students in a special learning class get to meet every Friday unsupervised for an hour. They are allowed to talk about whatever is on their minds and throughout the course of the school year they share some of their deepest thoughts and fears.

There was
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Kiera
Feb 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: contemporary, ya, 2019
Six kids. A room to talk.

For a whole school year six kids go into a room where they are to talk to each other. Throughout the course of this book they reveal stories about their diverse backgrounds.

Harbor me was great. I flew through this book, it is quite short but I loved every bit about it. This is the first book of Jacqueline Wood son's that I have read...I know right? She's such a great well-known author and I hope to read more from her in the future.

Harbor me stood out to me specificall
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mindful.librarian ☀️
Thanks to a Kid Lit Exchange reviewer for sharing her free review copy from #NerdCampMI with us!
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There are some books that I label "teaching books" and this is most certainly one of them. Of course it's one I want kids to pick up on their own as well, but it's one I want read out loud to every 5th and 6th grade class in the US this school year. It's one that might seem so so familiar to many students, but it's also a story that may need a bit (or a lot) of adult-led discussion to truly get the m
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Betsy
A good book, whether it’s written for a nine-year-old, a nineteen-year-old, or a ninety-year-old can tilt your perspective, if only momentarily. Consider the concept of the “happy ending” and what it’s supposed to resemble. What does a real happy ending actually entail in real life? In children’s books, many times the ending of a given story is happy when day is done. In real life, something happy may happen to a child but where’s the “ending” in all that? As an author, Jacqueline Woodson doesn’ ...more
Michelle
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
"The hardest part of telling a story is finding the beginning."

Where do we start the dialogue in this country about acceptance and respect for others? It seems as if the collective has lost their minds. Each side is focused on rhetoric, everyone consumed by a war of "Us" versus "Them". We have forgotten that WE the people are the country that we are supposed to "indivisible" and what we are supposed to stand for is "justice and liberty for ALL".

Harbor Me is Jacqueline Woodson's first middle grad
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Katrina
There is a tiny bit of story around the edges with the main character, but the overall plot of the book is: 6 kids sit around in a room and talk (often monologue) about Issues. That is not a story. It might work OK in verse (although a plot would still be a good thing to have), but it’s in prose. And it’s prose that keeps the impressionistic style and psychic distance of poetry, so it winds up being the worst of both worlds. It’s a girl reminiscing about people sitting around a room talking, whi ...more
BookNightOwl
May 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The breakfast club but for middle schoolers. I love how this teacher brings together I group of kids from all different nationalities and background to hang out and get to know each other. I love how in this 200 or so page book the Kids learn to care about each other and are able to talk to each other as family. A great book💕
DaNae
I'm having a hard time with this. The writing is so lovely and the children are dear and genuine.

But I wanted a different book, which may not be fair.

This is mainly a collection of monologues told with eloquence. The reader gets the stories, the friends share, at a distance. I can't help but wish they were shown in real time, allowing the reader a stronger connection. In the end I felt like this was more a book to teach about 'important' issues rather than strong story-telling.

I did have the
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Phil Jensen
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Two years ago, this country elected a leader who promised to "Make America Great Again." But what does that mean? What is America, and what does it look like when it's great? In Harbor Me, Jacqueline Woodson offers her vision of America at its best.

The plot is simple. Six tweens meet weekly to discuss their issues. Many issues emerge, with police shootings, loss of parents, and families separated by deportation getting the most coverage. The story breathes and moves naturally. The characters are
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Gary Anderson
Sep 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jacqueline Woodson’s Harbor Me is a book for right now. We can’t always help what happens to us, and some kids are dealt really tough hands. The kids in Harbor Me are living with the realities of incarcerated parents, deportation threats, deceased parents, and mindless prejudice for all kinds of reasons. When they are sent together to the “ARTT (A Room To Talk) Room,” the only thing they have in common is their different-ness from other kids. Then a wise teacher relies on their resilience as she ...more
Mary Lee
Amazing book.
So beautifully written.
So needed for this country, our classrooms, our children, all our citizens RIGHT NOW.
So powerful...the power of talk, of getting to know others ("Others").
So honest about race and privilege and ability (dis- and otherwise) and family and grief and loss and prison and immigration. It's all there, but it's not too much. Because it really is all there, all the time.

And then I listened to the audio and fell in love again. Especially after listening to Jacqueline W
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Kaytee Cobb
I simply do not understand how Jacquline Woodson puts together these amazing stories with such depth and resonance in so few pages. She is truly astounding.
Destinee Sutton
Woodson is one of the best (maybe the best) writers of fiction for young people. She's definitely one of my favorite authors. But I struggled to get into this book. Beautifully written, yes. Important topics and themes, yes. But it felt like a book written primarily to teach lessons, not tell a story.

Most of this book consists of a group of fifth graders sitting in a room talking. Narrator Haley is sitting in her room reflecting on the past year. Sometimes we are with her as a twelve-year-old l
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Celia
A book written by the author for the middle grades. Still, there is a lot for grown-ups to think about too.

Jacqueline Woodson wants to talk about diversity. In fact, she has sent her son to a school which IS diverse; children of many races, creeds and colors attend there. In her book, she describes six children who are diverse in their backgrounds AND their experiences. Their teacher. Ms. Laverne, calls them together one day and says:

"Every Friday, from now until the end of the school year, the
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Becca
Love the cover, love the idea, wanted to love the book, but. . .it felt like strung together preachy monologues trying to cover every social ill at once. Some of the writing was beautiful, but it just didn't seem to gel. Also, there is no way any school teacher would be allowed to leave a group of students alone in a room for an extended period of time--just not going to happen. Maybe that is why it never felt quite real.
Gabrielle Schwabauer
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I did not ask to cry today but here we are.
Dee Dee G
Oct 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beautifully written and full of examples of what people from different cultures experience. Nice book for middle school children to help understand acceptance and compassion.
Philip
Dec 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Stunning middle grade novel tells the tale of six students who bond over stories of their young lives. Woodson's writing combines beauty and ease, making Harbor Me an easy, artfully written book. I read this with hope, seeing the future of our beautiful country through the eyes of these six, enlightened children. Gorgeous, simple yet complex stories sure to capture your heart. Harbor Me is on the right side of history.
Selene
Mar 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Book #4 for Middle Grade March

Challenge #2 - A book about books or stories
Challenge #4 - A book set in another country
Leila
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
THIS BOOK WAS FANTASTIC!
Julie Suzanne
This is the kind of novel you are supposed to love if you are a librarian. But I didn't like anything about this novel, really. It met a requirement; it filled the need for diverse books, and nothing more. I have a lot of respect for Woodson, and it pains me to have to criticize this effort, but there really was nothing to this story except for being able to say, "Here's a diverse book. Done. Now all of you librarians can purchase this for your collections; it's the right thing to do."

Several k
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Jordan Henrichs
Oct 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Harbor Me is so beautifully written that if it receives all the 2018-2019 children's literature accolades I'm assuming it will receive, I will have no qualms about it. Its message is a strong and relevant one, being dished out by one of children's literature's best authors.

What kept me from placing it atop my own personal list of favorites were a few things:

1) I never had a clear understanding of why these six students were chosen for this "circle." This was important to me as a reader because I
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Jessica
Sep 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
I think this is a strong contender for next year's ALA awards, and with good reason. It's a slim little book, but the style is almost more poetry than prose, and each of the words and stories is lovely and clear. As these kids sit around in the old art room that their teacher gives them just to be a safe harbor where they can talk, the reader gently learns of the sorrows and joys of their lives. Two of the characters are central: Haley (the narrator) and Esteban, whose father was just taken away ...more
Sandra
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Lives are made up of stories, and stories are shared to know that we are not alone. Six students spend an hour once a week in a classroom, just themselves, and an indelible bond forms among these budding human beings. Throughout the year, they learn about each other’s challenges in life: family deportation, racial inequalities, loss of family members, incarcerated parent, and financial struggles. Woodson’s lyrical writing beautifully exposes the goodness of youngsters and how they can bring out ...more
Desiree
Sep 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely love the idea of being a safe harbor for someone. As a librarian, I believe that libraries are safe harbors. The students in this story battled their own perception of themselves and each other to create a unique safe harbor. Each character had such rich complexity! I absolutely loved the story line.
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Play Book Tag: Harbor Me - Jacqueline Woodson, 5 Stars 1 7 Jul 22, 2019 06:21PM  
YA Literature S19: Harbor you, Harbor me, or Harbor we? 1 2 May 17, 2019 09:09PM  
Mock Newbery 2021: November Read - Harbor Me 14 128 Dec 06, 2018 06:51PM  

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I used to say I’d be a teacher or a lawyer or a hairdresser when I grew up but even as I said these things, I knew what made me happiest was writing.

I wrote on everything and everywhere. I remember my uncle catching me writing my name in graffiti on the side of a building. (It was not pretty for me when my mother found out.) I wrote on paper bags and my shoes and denim binders. I chalked stories a
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I will harbor you.”
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