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

Picture Book Pair for Feasting with Family and Friends

by Rebecca J. Gomez

Picture book pair posts are about showing how books with similar themes can open up a world of discussion possibilities, and those discussions are great ways to connect with your children or students. It can be fascinating to see how different authors and illustrators approach different topics and themes. Pairing books with similar themes during story time will help children learn that everyone sees and experiences the world a little differently, and it's good to see other people's perspectives.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner for those of us here in the U.S.A., so this week we are sharing two Thanksgiving books that are sure to delight your family whether you celebrate or not. Each of these books is about a group of people coming together to prepare a feast in order to celebrate a day of giving thanks for the blessings in their lives. 

In Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story by Pat Zietlow Miller and Jill McElmurry, a family gathers together and divides the meal preparation between them all (except the baby, of course). Told in a bouncy, playful, rhyme that uses repetition to great effect, this story is a delight to read aloud and would make a great addition to a yearly Thanksgiving tradition.

Thanksgiving in the Woods by Phyllis Alsdurf, illustrated by Jenny Løvlie is a charming story about a group of friends and family gathering to prepare for and share a Thanksgiving meal in the woods. This book almost makes me want to gather all my own friends and family for an outdoor feast this year. Told in rhythmic prose with a repeating refrain, this is a warm and cozy story about family, friendship, and thankfulness. 

Read: Sharing the Bread and Thanksgiving in the Woods


  • How are these two books similar? How are they different?
  • Discuss the people in each story. What is the same about the groups of people? What is different?
  • In each book, people are making preparations for a Thanksgiving feast. What kinds of preparations do they make? How is this similar to how your family prepares for Thanksgiving or other celebration?
  • Does your family celebrate Thanksgiving? If so, what is your favorite thing about the holiday?
  • What are some of the foods each family prepares? 
  • If you were to join the celebration in one of these books, which would you choose? Why?

Do: Here are some activities to consider after reading and discussing each of these books.

  • Plan your Thanksgiving dinner (or other celebration) as a family and divide some of the preparations so that everyone can contribute. This can include tasks to do a day or so ahead, such as cleaning or baking, or things to do the day of the celebration, like setting the table or making punch.
  • Have kids make a Happy Thanksgiving banner using a roll of paper or large sheet of poster board. Hang it for all the guests to see! This is a tradition we had in my family growing up.
  • Make these cute and tasty Candy Corn Turkey Treats! They can be good to snack on while waiting for the turkey to finish roasting.
  • Something to make ahead: Handprint Turkey Apron. This could be a fun host or hostess gift!
  • Make Thanksgiving place cards. If you need inspiration, here are some fun ideas.
  • Write thank you notes to send to your dinner host.
  • Send a loved one a Thanksgiving card.
  • Do a service project together, such as visiting a nursing home or collecting food for a food bank (you could ask each of your guests to contribute).
For more ideas on Thanksgiving and thankfulness, check out these past posts: