Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson

Harbor Me

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 it's safe to talk about what's bothering them—everything from Esteban'...

Details Harbor Me

TitleHarbor Me
Release DateAug 28th, 2018
PublisherNancy Paulsen Books
GenreChildrens, Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Fiction, Young Adult, Contemporary

Reviews Harbor Me

  • Diane S ☔
    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 teac...
  • 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 so...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Michelle
    "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".H...
  • Phil Jensen
    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 stor...
  • Gary Anderson
    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 k...
  • 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 rem...
  • 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...
  • Jessica
    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 narra...
  • Katie Long
    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 c...
  • Sandra
    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 ...
  • KC
    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.
  • Gabrielle Schwabauer
    I did not ask to cry today but here we are.
  • Kiki Cole
    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 po...
  • 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...
  • Leonard Kim
    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, ...
  • Desiree
    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.
  • Amaka
    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.
  • 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...
  • Kathy McC
    Thank you Ms. Woodson for creating some amazing characters- so real that they leap off the page. Thank you for the message you gave them to carry, "What I will say is harbor each other. Even strangers. Every day." Thank you for making them friends so that they can teach us about the power of friendship. "I didn't know it would be people you barely knew becoming friends that harbored you." Thanks for writing a story for students who are not t...
  • Lisa
    The themes hit home for all of us in 2018. Written for the middle school crowd but applicable to everyone, although the simplistic writing and the way each topic is spelled out was a bit much for this adult reader. While I agree with the topics and conclusions, I believe it was preached to me as an adult where I'd rather figure out the conclusions for myself as well as kids figure it out themselves.The audio has an interview at the end with Jacqu...
  • Kim
    Jacqueline Woodson is a treasure and I would read anything she wrote, in any form, for any age group. I'm surprised that I haven't heard more about this book, because it's focus on kids and diversity and current events is so well done. The audiobook performance is so good too! Don't miss the ending where she and her son talk about the book.
  • Danielle
    "My uncle says that when you tell stories, it's like letting out all the scared inside of you...It's like you help stuff make sense." (p.41)"I think sometimes...life gives you stuff you don't want, but you have to take it anyway." (p.145)
  • Michelle
    This was a short accessible read that touched on a lot of issues. Loss of a parent, immigration, racial profiling, and then there's the kiddo that hasn't experienced any of that, but sees how life can be cruel to his friends, and that effects him as well. Its a good one for all kids, with a message of harboring one another through the storms of life. (I'm not crying, you're crying!)
  • Rita Shaffer
    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.
  • Beth Honeycutt
    Not much to do on this rainy day but to read an amazing book! So many wonderful images and messages in this book!
  • Christine
  • 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.