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

THE WATER PRINCESS: A Read, Discuss Do Activity and Game

Submitted by Mindy Baker

The Water Princess, written by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, is a picture book that is based on the life of a little girl from Burkina Faso named Georgie Badiel who must walk miles each day to collect water and carry it back to her home in a jar on her head. I think you will enjoy reading this beautifully written book aloud with your child, and it is a perfect springboard into a discussion about the global issues of water contamination and scarcity of clean drinking water. Comparing and contrasting our lives with others around the world can awaken new understandings for both children and adults alike. 

READ:  The Water Princess by Susan Verde



  1. Do you know where Burkina Faso is on the map? (Find it together)

  2. What are some things that you use water for each day?

  3. What are some other important uses for water?

  4. How much water do you think your family uses in one day? 

  5. Why is it important that the water you drink is clean?

  6. What does Princess Gie Gie’s mom do to make sure their water is clean? What are some other ways that you can purify water?

  7. What is the longest distance you have ever walked? How would you feel if you had to walk 4 miles to get water? (Depending on the age of your children, you could try to walk a mile)

  8. Have you ever felt thankful for clean water? Are you thankful for clean water now after reading about the situation in Burkina Faso?



Activity #1

Experiment with different materials to create the best water filter. 


Materials needed:

  • Sample of pond water 

  • Colander, funnels, cups, buckets

  • Coffee filter, tissue paper, paper towel, old pillowcase


  1. Let your child take the lead in thinking through the design of your filter. 


  1. What did you discover? Which materials did the best job?


Activity #2

Water Transfer Relay


Materials needed:

  • Two buckets (per team)

  • One plastic cup (per team)

  • Water

  • The backyard on a hot, summer day


Set up:

For each team, fill one bucket up with water (the same amount for each team). Place the second bucket across the yard a designated distance away. Each team uses the cup to transfer the water from one bucket to the other. On your turn, dip your cup into the water and place it on your head. Try to walk or run with it on your head (without holding it with your hands) to the other bucket and pour the water into that bucket. If you spill the water, it is automatically the next player’s turn. After your turn, run back and give the cup to the next player. Repeat, taking turns, until all the water from one bucket is either spilled, or in the other bucket. The winner is the first team to have transferred all of their water into the second bucket. (You can also judge it on which team has managed to get the most water into the second bucket)