Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson
Cast of Narrators:
N’Jameh Camara, as Haley
Jose Carrera, as Tiago
Dean Flanagan, as Ashton
Angel Romero, as Esteban
Toshi Widoff-Woodson, as Holly
Mikelle Wright-Matos, as Amari
and also featuring the author, Jacqueline Woodson, as Ms. Laverne
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.
A teacher, M. Laverne, tells six kids that they are to meet in a classroom once a week to talk. No adults and no subject is off limits, as long as they respect each other.
The kids, Esteban, Tiago, Holly, Amari, Ashton and Haley are a diverse group who don’t really know each other. Slowly they start to bond as they talk and learn about each other. Through discussions about losing someone you love, family members who are in prison, the idea someone could be deported, and death, they become very close and are surprised to find out their lives are very alike in some ways.
The title refers to the idea that we should harbor each other in times of need, and as the book progressed, these kids became a safe harbor for each other. TI love that they made a pact to meet back in that classroom in 20 years.
The book is narrated by multiple people including the author, all who did a great job.
I loved this book and think it should be required reading for elementary school.
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