Parents' Guide to

Harbor Me

By Terreece Clarke, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 10+

Kids get safe space to tell their stories in moving tale.

Harbor Me Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 15+

If it weren't for the agenda...

The book has some great points BUT, the overwhelming attempt to indoctrinate them with an agenda to make the kids feel guilty for being white, and that cops are bad, and if you're black you can't play with a toy guns, and the boy whose dad was deported and they acted like they had no idea what happened to him, and underhanded negative remarks towards the president...while using real stories - but twisting the truth, and telling outright lies to get to the kind heartedness and compassion of children is just despicable! I was outraged reading this book. Why can't books teach lessons without an agenda of the author?! If your child is reading it for school, and you don't have a say, I'd recommend taking the opportunity to discuss the topics in the book to teach your child that not everything they read is true, and that they'll often have to do their own research and form their own opinions. For example, one excerpt: 'I'd seen the papers and heard Holly's mom and dad taking about the boy who got killed for playing with a toy gun. Hollys mom said that it wouldn't have happened if the boy was white, and Holly's dad had nodded. The cops who shot that kid in the park didn't even ask him any questions, Amari said. Just came in the park and shot him right away. And then when his big sister tried to run to him, they didn't even let her go to him.' –––This was based on a true story - but a most of the facts were left out to paint the picture the author wanted to impress upon these innocent children. That cops are bad and people are prejudice. - how kids Why not just stick to what the book is 'suppose to be about', how kids can support each other, they all have different life issues, and they can celebrate their differences.
1 person found this helpful.
age 12+

Heavy topics for 5th graders

My daughter was assigned Harbor Me in her 5th grade class and I read this book to help understand what she was reading and be able to answer the questions she was asking. I felt the topics, while relevant, were also a bit heavy for a 10yr old. Racial profiling and deportation/immigration the most touched upon. While I’m not sure many 5th graders would pick it up on their own, I did like the overall message of this book which I believe was regardless of race or economic status, everyone has their own struggles and life story that makes them unique but that also connects them together. Our first initial impression of someone doesn’t usually take into account inner personal turmoil and getting to know someone despite our outward differences is what is important. Overall it had a very “Breakfast Club” feel to it for me (a child of the 80’s) with a millennial weight.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2):
Kids say (9):

Jacqueline Woodson weaves a masterful tapestry of stories illustrating the lives of everyday American kids dealing with serious issues, including racial profiling, deportation, and incarceration. Harbor Me is familiar, heartwarming, and heartbreaking, as Woodson shows what happens to the real families behind the headlines. As the kids open up and find shelter in one another, they find strength, support, love, and hope as well.

It's refreshing to see kids who actually talk rather than tweet, text, and Snapchat their feelings. Young readers will love to see what they have in common with the characters, and parents and teachers will love the diverse perspectives and can use Harbor Me to kick off discussions of many important social and political topics in the news.

Book Details

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