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 Jiménez, 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

Book and Gift Pairings for the Holidays

Books make great gifts any time of year. But what's even better? Books paired with a items meant to extend the enjoyment of the story!

This Read, Discuss, Do! Gift Guide pairs some of our favorite books with other gifts meant to help extend the fun of the story beyond the last page and maybe even encourage some new experiences. We hope you find some good ideas for readers and doers in your life on this list.

For Babies and Toddlers

Hey, Bruce! by Ryan T. Higgins. Pair this super fun (and funny) interactive picture book with a black bear plush, such as this First and Main 10-inch Bear

Stomp, Wiggle, Clap, and Tap: My First Book of Dance by Rachel Burk and illustrated by Alyssa De Asis, a book that encourages imaginative play. Pair this book with a musical gift such as a music box or instrument. Or maybe a dance costume!

More books for active babies and toddlers

For Little Makers

The Thingity-Jig by Kathleen Doherty and illustrated by Kristyna Litten will be a sure hit with little engineer-builders. Pair this book with a construction toy such as this LEGO Chain Reactions kit.

Be a Maker by Katey Howes, illustrated by Elizabet Vuković is a book about the possibilities that exist when you set out to make something. Pair this book with an assortment of craft supplies. 

For Young Adventurers

The Grizzled Grist Does Not Exist by Juliette Maclver, illustrated by Sarah Davis. A rhyming picture book about a class adventure into the wilderness led by a zany teacher. This book would be great paired with an assortment of adventure gear: binoculars, a compass, a water bottle, some new hiking boots! Another option is to put together a map-making kit using materials listed in this activity post

One Winter Up North by John Owens, a wordless book about a family's vacation in the Boundary Waters during winter. Pair this book with some new snuggly winter gear, such as a hat, scarf, and gloves. 

For Budding Poets or Poetry Lovers

African Acrostics: A Word In Edgeways by Avis Harley. This book is full of creative acrostic poems and includes explanations of the different variations as well as tips on how to write them in the back of the book. Pair this book with an acrostic about the recipient, maybe in a nice frame?

A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms by Paul B. Jeneczko, illustrated by Chris Raschka, is the perfect book for budding poets to explore lots of different forms of poetry. Pair this book with a nice journal and pen. 

I'm Just No Good at Rhyming and Other Nonsense for Mischievous Kids and Immature Grown-ups by Chris Harris, illustrated by Lane Smith. This delightful book of poetry has something to amuse every kid or kid at heart, whether they think they like poetry or not. This book would be a great family gift. Pair it with a fun, creative word game like Poetry for Neanderthals (which isn't really about poetry, but it involves a lot of nonsense!). 

Six Reasons Your Kids Should be Reading Poetry 

For Little (or big) Cooks or Foodies

Federico and the Wolf by Rebecca J. Gomez, illustrated by Elisa Chavarri. This is a gender-swapped retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, with Mexican flair. It includes a recipe for salsa de gallo in the back! Pair this book with an assortment of salsas or a chips and salsa bowl. Or both?

Thank You, Omu! by Oge Mora. A woman makes stew and shares it with her neighbors, and they thank her by sharing their food with her. Pair this book with a cute soup mug, a soup mix, or a ramen bowl. You could also put together a nice soup-themed gift basket.

Let's Do Everything and Nothing by Julia Kuo. This book isn't exactly about food, but its spare text and quiet, peaceful tone make it a good option for a relaxing afternoon tea time. Pair this book with a box of sample teas and a new mug or tea cup.

More soup books

More books with recipes 

For Gardeners or Nature Lovers

Planting the Wild Garden written by Katherine O Galbraith, by Wendy Anderson Halperin. This story begins with the purposeful actions of gardeners planting seeds and transitions into wind, rain, and animals planting a wild garden by relocating seeds and growing natural vegetation—a wild garden grown in nature full of grasses, trees, wild flowers, and berries. Pair this book with a packet of wildflower seeds and some garden gloves.

Butterflies Belong Here by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Meilo So. This book tells the story of a young girl and her efforts to help the monarch butterfly, and how her efforts help her to grow and change too, just like a butterfly! Pair this book with gardening tools and seeds for a butterfly garden.

Books about gardens

More books about gardens 

For Movie Buffs 

Pair these books with their movie counterparts (and maybe some popcorn) for a great family gift or the young movie lover in your life:

  • The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo
  • The BFG by Roald Dahl
  • Mr. Popper's Penguins by Richard and Florence Atwater 

We hope this list has helped you find just the right gift for someone in your life. Happy Holidays!