Harbor Me

by Jacqueline Woodson

“I want each of you to say to the other: I will harbor you.” Eleven-year-old... read more

“I want each of you to say to the other: I will harbor you.” Eleven-year-old Haley’s teacher, Ms. Laverne, challenges Haley and her classmates to be there for one another. But how do you become someone’s harbor? The final hour of school each week, Ms. Laverne leaves Haley and her five classmates alone to talk, trusting them to figure it out. As the kids spend time together over the course of the school year, they gradually reveal some of the hardest parts of their lives: A father who was picked up by immigration, fears about racism, bullying, housing and economic insecurity. Quiet Haley is hesitant to share her own, complicated story: Her father, who is white, is getting out of prison, where he’s been serving time for the accidental death of her mom, who was Black, in a car accident when she was three. She loves her dad, but isn’t sure about living with him, and can’t imagine daily life without the uncle who’s been raising her. Haley’s classmates often laugh and joke, but they also come to embody the meaning of refuge for one another: safety, security, relief. Woodson’s characters are vivid, lively, poignant, and relatable in a story that reveals hope in everyday connection and caring, and will be deeply resonant for young readers. (Ages 9–12)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2019

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