SPOTLIGHT: Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson

Today I’m excited to be featuring Jacqueline Woodson’s latest novel, Harbor Me. I really enjoyed Jacqueline Woodson’s Brown Girl Dreaming and Another Brooklyn, and she visited my school during my freshman year! Harbor Me is her first middle-grade novel since National Book Award winner Brown Girl Dreaming. I read Harbor Me last week, and I loved this diverse, emotion-filled story.


About Harbor Me:

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.

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Jacqueline Woodson Reading & Signing Event

Happy Friday! Last night, my university hosted a discussion and reading by author Jacqueline Woodson.  Woodson is well- known for her books Brown Girl Dreaming and Another Brooklyn. She has won so many awards for her work, most famously for the National Book Award in 2014 for Brown Girl Dreaming. Written in verse, BGD follows Woodson’s experience growing up as an African American girl in the 1960s and 1970s. As a child, she grew up in both the North and the South, right alongside the Civil Rights Movement and beyond. I read BGD over spring break and enjoyed reading it. I loved the poems focusing on Woodson’s relationship with her grandfather.

During the event, Woodson discussed her work and her writing process. Before reading from her books, she gave advice to the aspiring writers in the room. Her best piece of advice was to write about what you know or have experienced first-hand. By doing so, Woodson believes that a writer will be more invested in their story and their characters. She joked about not wanting to kill off most of her characters because she loved them too much, causing the audience to laugh in agreement. Woodson read from three of her books: Brown Girl Dreaming, Another Brooklyn, and If You Come Softly. Having Brown Girl Dreaming fresh in my mind, I really enjoyed listening to Woodson narrate the novel and I got a better sense of the emotion in the story. 

I bought Another Brooklyn (kudos to my school for $5 student copies) and Woodson signed my copy at the end of the event. Overall,  it  was such an awesome experience to have an author that I’ve read from visit my campus and be able to meet her. In the best fangirlish fashion, I felt so cool when Woodson asked who had read Brown Girl Dreaming (me!) and who was there for extra credit (I wish, but not me!). I look forward to hopefully attending more author events this year and reading more of Woodson’s books.

Have you read Brown Girl Dreaming? Share your thoughts and comments below!