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Publisher's Summary

Jacqueline Woodson is the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature

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's father's deportation and Haley's father's incarceration to Amari's fears of racial profiling and Ashton's adjustment to his changing family fortunes. When the six are together, they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.

Cast of narrators: 

  • N’Jameh Camara, as Haley
  • Jose Carrera, as Tiago 
  • Dean Flanagan, as AshtonAngel
  • Romero, as Esteban
  • Toshi Widoff-Woodson, as Holly
  • Mikelle Wright-Matos, as Amari
  • and also featuring the author, Jacqueline Woodson, as Ms. Laverne. 
©2018 Jacqueline Woodson (P)2018 Listening Library

Critic Reviews

“Woodson celebrates all that is essential and good for humanity - compassion, understanding, security, and freedom - in this touching novel.... Woodson’s skills as poet and master storyteller shine brightly here as she economically uses language to express emotion and delve into the hearts of her characters. Showing how America’s political and social issues affect children on a daily basis, this novel will leave an indelible mark on readers’ minds.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

“Woodson delivers a powerful tale of community and mutual growth. The bond they develop is palpable.... The characters ring true as they discuss issues both personal and global. This story, told with exquisite language and clarity of narrative, is both heartbreaking and hopeful. An extraordinary and timely piece of writing.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

“The magic is in the writing. Woodson tells stories torn from headlines but personalizes them with poetry and memories, blunting their trauma with understanding and love. Haley’s history weaves in and out, drawing readers close. These children become each other's safe harbors and Woodson brilliantly shows readers how to find the connections we all need." (Booklist, starred review)

Featured Article: Best Audiobooks for Middle Schoolers


There’s nothing quite like middle school. It’s a time of major change, anxiety, and lots of awkwardness. Luckily for the middle schooler in your life, there are some great stories about navigating the ups and downs of friendships, family, first crushes, big changes, and so much more. We’ve collected 15 of the best audiobooks that focus on the unique experience of being a kid in middle school to help young listeners feel less alone during this exciting and confusing time.

What listeners say about Harbor Me

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Woodson never disappoints.

The kids are so real. I'm a teacher in a very diverse school, and I kept seeing these kids as my students. I hear my students' voices as the kids talk. I hear their stories told with sincerity and truth.

I appreciated listening to Woodson's conversation with her son at the end.

As always, I'm left feeling glad to have met her characters, and not ready to read another book yet. I still have to say goodbye to these kids.

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For my son

I loved it! I'm going to see if my son will listen to it. it reminds me of him and some of his learning struggles. maybe this book will reach him.

2 people found this helpful

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Everyone should read this.

Suitable for children, but ever adult should hear the real stories these children are telling. Beautiful writing, touching and powerful but also light and beautiful. Well done!

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Everyone should experience this book

Remember when we were children and we were smarter about how to get along? This is the intelligent and insightful story that reminds us to think and consider who we are to one another and how we can do/ be better in this world. Remember?!?

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Outlifting

My son and I read this book and listened to it on audible at the same time. As a special education teacher it speaks volumes in terms of our times. I will read again and reflect upon it with my class. Thank you Jackeline!

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For your imagination...

I am a math teacher, but I am the teacher to all children. I hope that did not go over your head.
I read 'Harbor Me' so that my students know that I do what I can to show as much love as possible!

The book was phenomenal! The build up to...without a spoiler, to chapter 15 was great! The concepts are relatable to ALL of my students. My 6th graders are loving 'Harbor Me'!

I would recommend this book not only for students, but as a tool for educators when discussing culturally responsive teaching.

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5 Star Reading ☆☆☆☆☆

I ABSOLUTELY LOVED HABOR ME!! Its a book that clearly identifies with the way children of color view America. Its a heartwarming story of family, friendship,caring and love.
I think EVERY 4th&5th grade classroom in America should have copies of this book!!

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Food for thought!

The story of how children see and experience difficult, complex issues of poverty, racism,and immigration.

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very heartwarming

Six kids form close bonds as they meet in the art room each Friday. There only assignment is to just talk. They share their stories, their fears and their hopes. They become each others safe harbor.

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Great for the family!

We just finished this with our 10 year old. Some items were hard to listen to with him, but. I think harder for me then him. I think it was me wanting to “shelter” him from our, at times, harsh world. He really enjoyed it! Great job!