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Harbor Me

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  4,922 ratings  ·  1,138 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
Hardcover, 192 pages
Published August 28th 2018 by Nancy Paulsen Books
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4.28  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,922 ratings  ·  1,138 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!
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
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
Kate ☀️ Olson
Thanks to a Kid Lit Exchange reviewer for sharing her free review copy from #NerdCampMI with us!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
It's a book
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
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
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.
Linda Quinn
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This beautifully written book gives me hope for our future, where young people who can learn to get along are our real-life superheroes.
Gabrielle Schwabauer
Nov 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I did not ask to cry today but here we are.
Katie Long
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’m not the target audience for this book at all, but I love Jaqueline Woodson so much that I requested it from Penguin First to Read even though it is meant for a much younger reader. While this one doesn’t transcend its middle grade designation the way Brown Girl Dreaming does, it does discuss important issues of cultural and socioeconomic divisions in a way that is accessible for a young reader. Woodson manages this accessibility without coming across didactic or condescending to her young au ...more
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
When group of young Brooklyn students are given the opportunity to gather together in a safe, adult free classroom, they begin an explorative journey through dialog, poetry, revelation, and storytelling. Jacqueline Woodson taps into the most current challenges that many our youth face today with such unbridled courage and sheer eloquence.
Kiki Cole
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I have read two very similar books in one day. Harbor Me was the better out of the two. Nothing was offensive, but it was real and it showed the effect of social matters with kids. 6 kids are put into the ARTT room aka A Room To Talk. No adults are around and it's basically free lance conversations and through each other's differences, they found an unrelated family within the four walls of this room. I thought the writing was so beautiful and poetic and I enjoyed each character's story. It was ...more
Leonard Kim
Sep 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Listened to audiobook. A couple years ago, Gary Paulsen wrote a book, Six Kids and a Stuffed Cat, that I don't remember that well but also featured a Breakfast Club-like scenario, six kids, forced together at school, not knowing each other well, but eventually talking and connecting. What was distinctive about Paulsen's book was that the material was presented both as a novel and as a play. I thought about that with Harbor Me. Woodson has style, but such a polished writing style may almost work ...more
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
Abby Johnson
We all need people to harbor us sometimes, when bad things happen or tragedy strikes or the world just becomes hard and lonely. In Harbor Me, six very different kids are brought together by a loving teacher to do just that. Every Friday afternoon, they gather in the old art room for an hour just to talk about whatever's on their mind. For Esteban that's his dad who was taken by immigration and is now being held far away from his family. For Amari that's the talk that his mom gave him about not p ...more
Christina (A Reader of Fictions)
1. This audiobook is full cast, and it's exceptional.
2. Harbor Me manages to be about a huge number of the major issues of the day, including immigration, imprisonment, racism, and much more, without feeling too heavy or too preachy. The characters feel so real, and it really highlights the importance of having a safe space to be able to establish open communication and build true understanding.
3. This book made me cry.
May 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There are so many heavy topics covered in this novel such as immigration, racism, privilege, and parental loss. I was mesmerized by the characters and I can't get over how brilliant this story is. Haley's use of the recorder to remember her friends confessions was perfect. I love how Woodson weaved the stories so beautifully making every situation relevant to our society today.
Lesley Burnap
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Finally read/listened to Harbor Me. Gosh. All the feels & I might have been a little teary. Audio is exquisite with all the parts read by different kids & Jackie. So many important discussions can be kicked off by reading this book. For kids (gr 4+), teachers, adults, etc.
Rita Shaffer
Sep 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
I listened to the audiobook and it was extra special ... Jacqueline Woodson read Ms Laverne and her some reads one of the child characters... and they do the sweetest interview at the end.

This is an important book for all to read ... and I wish felt as safe as these kiddos do in the ARTT room.
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YA Literature S19: Harbor you, Harbor me, or Harbor we? 1 2 May 17, 2019 09:09PM  
Mock Newbery 2020: November Read - Harbor Me 14 121 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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And in the night, when the dog barks at shadows, tell him
not to be afraid of what he cannot see
or the things he does not yet understand.
There is mystery everywhere.
Beneath rocks, there is damp earth
and an army of ants
planning a revolution.

Esteban stood at the front of the room, staring at the page. Then he lifted his head and looked at us. We cheered again, even louder this time. I don't know if any of us really understood his dad's poem. But for a long time after he'd finished reading, I thought about that army of ants, how they were coming together.
Like us.”
“If the worst thing in the world happened, would I help protect someone else? Would I let myself be a harbor for someone who needs it?’ Then she said, ‘I want each of you to say to the other: I will harbor you.’
I will harbor you.”
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