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.
Six kids, one teacher who believes in the importance of being able to tell their stories, one room, and an experience that will be remembered for the rest of their lives!
First of all, speaking from my teacher perspective…. Miss Laverne is my idol. I strive every day to be the kind of person my students need every day. I tell them how amazing they are and how much I believe in them. Miss Laverne loved her students and recognized their need to express their emotions about all they feel. So she told hem one day that every Friday they will spend one uninterrupted hour in the same room. No teacher. No supervision. No assignments. Just each other. The conversation is up to them.
What happened after that was amazing! They children had the freedom to discuss their hopes, desires, fears, and anger! Through their conversations together, they learned about each other and about themselves. They didn’t always agree but they respected each other, saw each other’s point of view, and vowed to “harbor” each other.
The moment the title became clear to me, I cried. Because I listened to the audio book version of this story, I visualized the kids as my own kids. I can hear their voices and feel pain, joy, and confusion.
One teacher, six kids, and an unforgettable story. Long after the last page of this book, you will think about these kids. You will love Miss Laverne and wish to meet and thank her. Kids need a Miss Laverne in their lives. Every child needs an ARTT room (a room to talk).
Words really can’t express how much I love this book, this author, and her ability to reach readers on so many levels! One million 🌟🌟🌟
Jacqueline Woodson’s memoir BROWN GIRL DREAMING won the 2014 National Book Award and was a NY Times Bestseller. Her novel, ANOTHER BROOKLYN, was a National Book Award finalist and an Indie Pick in 2016. Among her many awards, she the recipient of the Kurt Vonnegut Award, four Newbery Honors, two Coretta Scott King Award, and the Langston Hughes Medal. Jacqueline is the author of nearly thirty books for young people and adults including EACH KINDNESS, IF YOU COME SOFTLY, LOCOMOTION and I HADN’T MEANT TO TELL YOU THIS. She served as Young People’s Poet Laureate from 2014-2016, was a fellow at The American Library in Paris, occasionally writes for the New York Times, is currently working on more books and like so many writers – lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.