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

Parent and Child Poetry Challenge: Acrostic Poems

To jump start this year's Read, Discuss, Do Poetry Challenge, we're exploring acrostic poems! Acrostic poems are poems in which the first letters of each line spell out the poem's subject. Acrostics can be pretty easy to write because the lines can be long, short, or a mix of both, and they don't have to rhyme. They can be simple, with every line being a word to describe the topic. Or they can be complex, with lots of interesting language and rhyme and rhythm! Often, they are somewhere in between.

A wonderful book of acrostic poems is AFRICAN ACROSTICS: A WORD IN EDGEWAYS by Avis Harley. This book is full of creative acrostic poems, including a few variations that may surprise you. It also includes explanations of the different variations as well as tips on how to write them in the back of the book.

Acrostics are a great way to introduce poetry to budding poets. Try starting with a familiar subject, such as a pet or favorite animal. For example:




Once you've got your subject, encourage your child to think of a word or phrase for each letter of the subject. Example:

Cute and cuddly

Always napping

Tries to catch mice

Be sure to spend some time brainstorming. You don't have to use the first thing that comes to your mind. You could also write more than one poem on the same subject and compare them!

Acrostics can also be a way to challenge more seasoned poets. Encourage older writers to be more creative with their word choice and experiment with stringing each line together so that it reads more like a free verse poem than a list, such as in the graphic above. It can also be fun to challenge kiddos (and yourself) to be creatively concise, like in the example below:




Remember: this challenge is about exploring and writing poetry together with your children. But we encourage you to let your child take the lead once he or she is comfortable. 

Need more help? Here is a video lesson on writing acrostic poems on

If you're participating in this challenge (and you should be!) we'd love to see your poems! You can share them in the comments here or on social media using the hashtag #RDDPoetryChallenge.

Have fun writing acrostics!


Mindy Baker said…
Fantastic kick-off to the week!