Read, Discuss, and Do with MARI IN THE MARGINS

By Marci Whitehurst The best books make readers feel like they aren’t alone. They’re seen. Understood. Our very own  Rebecca J. Gomez  accomplishes this flawlessly in Mari in the Margins , her new middle grade novel in verse, published by Bandersnatch Books. It releases May 14 th !  Here’s a snippet about the novel, which you’ll surely want to READ:   For Marivel JimĂ©nez, life in her big family is full of chaos. Feeling overlooked by her parents and overshadowed by her siblings is frustrating, and it's even worse to have the constant attention of her annoying, mischievous three-year-old sister, Susana.  Caught between her need to be noticed and her dream of having time to herself, Marivel pours herself into poetry and, eventually, art journaling. When she hears of a school-wide poetry contest, she sees winning as a chance to escape the margins of her family and finally be seen. Doesn’t that sound amazing? That’s because it is. I was honored to read the book ahead of its release—and

Ten Tips for Reading with Pets!

by Rebecca J. Gomez

Reading aloud to a pet can be a fun way to become a stronger reader. A pet won't judge you or correct you for making a mistake, which can help you build confidence. Also, pets love the special attention, especially when reading is paired with belly rubs, snuggles, or treats! So, read with your pets, and keep these tips in mind so that everything goes well.

1. Be sure your pet is calm enough for story time. You may need to tire them out with a walk, a game, or a training exercise first.

2. Pick a cozy spot! Dogs love the bed or a comfy couch. A cat might want prefer a lap or a sunny spot on the carpet. A bird or lizard might like to sit on your shoulder or even your head!

3. Choose titles appropriate for your specific pet. Here are a few pet-specific recommendations:
  • For cats: Frederick by Leo Lionni, Another by Christian Robinson
  • For dogs: Dogku by Andrew Clements, This is a Squirrel Taco by Andrew Cangelose, illustrated by Josh Shipley
  • For birds: Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina, illustrated by Angela Dominguez
  • For reptiles and amphibians: The Yucky Reptile Alphabet Book by Jerry Pallotta, illustrated by Ralph Masiello, A Hippy-Hoppy Toad by Peggy Archer, illustrated by Anne Wilsdorf
  • For small mammals: Hot Rod Hamster by Cynthia Lord, illustrated by Derek Anderson
  • For fish: Memoirs of a Goldfish by Devin Scillian, illustrated by Tim Bowers, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish by Dr. Suess
4. Books are treats, but not THAT kind of treat. Be sure to keep your pet's teeth, claws, or beaks away from the pages. Drool is a no-no too!

5. Give your antsy pet a toy to play with while you read. Sometimes it helps them be better listeners!

6. Always give your pet a reward for participating in story time. 

7. Never read a cat a book about wanting a dog for a pet. He may be highly offended!

8. If your cat and dog aren't getting along, encourage togetherness with stories about cats and dogs, such as Stop, Go, Yes, No! by Mike Twohy or Wonton and Chopstick by Lee Wardlaw, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin. 

9. If you read a book with a refrain to a parrot often enough, they might learn to repeat it! But take care. Birds can be startled by fluttering book pages. Turn pages slowly!

10. No pet? No problem! A stuffed animal will do. Or a friend's pet. Or even a younger sibling. Just don't reward your little sister with a dog biscuit! 

Come back next week for Snack and Story Time: Dog Edition!