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


Review by Rebecca J. Gomez

Happy Birthday, Christmas Child!, a new board book by Laura Sassi and illustrated by Gabi Murphy, is a sweet and simple counting nativity story. The story begins with Mary and Joseph entering a stable with a sense of peace and anticipation, and ends with a joyful celebration of the birth of God's son, Jesus. The book follows the Biblical account of the nativity, while simplifying the language and taking obvious creative liberties to make the story engaging for the youngest audience. This book is a great way to share the story of the first Christmas with the youngest kiddos, and it can also be a great spring-board into a deeper discussion about the meaning of Christmas for the older ones! It would make a wonderful addition to anyone's Christmas book collection.

Because this is a counting book, a list of ten discussion starters seemed the perfect thing. I hope these questions will help foster deeper discussions for you and your children. 

1. Where did Mary and Joseph have to stay? Why?

2. Imagine spending the night in a stable with the animals. What would it be like? What kinds of smells and sounds might you notice?

3. Why do you think Mary and Joseph were feeling happy and blessed?

4. What was special about the baby in Mary's belly? What does the word "savior" mean?

5. How many different kinds of animals appear in the book?

6. What were the shepherds doing out in the hills at night?

7. What special message did the angels have for the shepherds?

8. How do you think the shepherds felt when they got such special news?

9. At the end of the book, everyone praises the baby Jesus. Why is that?

10. How can you honor Jesus when celebrating his birth and all year long?

Want some activity ideas to pair with Happy Birthday, Christmas Child? Check these out!

Printable activity kit

Easy Paper Mouse Craft (video)