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

Books about the Nativity: A Read, Discuss, Do! Book List

by Rebecca J. Gomez

When I was a child, my favorite Christmas picture book was Santa's Crash-Bang Christmas by Steven Kroll, illustrated by Tomie De Paula. The story is full of slap-stick humor, and I sympathized with Santa as he struggled through a difficult night of delivering presents all over the world. Another favorite was, of course, How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

Missing from my childhood Christmas library were books about the nativity. So, once I got married and had children of my own, I made it a point to include them in our family library. Below is a list of those I’ve collected over the years, including those mentioned above. I hope you will read one or more on this list, and then take some time discussing the story and possibly do a follow-up activity with your child. It could become a new Christmas tradition!

Read: Any Christmas book that features the nativity.


  • Talk about the book’s story and characters. What was your favorite part of the story? Why?

  • Why was Jesus born in such a lowly place?

  • What it so special about the birth of Jesus?

  • Does your family set up a nativity scene at Christmas time? How is it the same or different than the one in the book?

  • How does your family celebrate Christmas? Talk about your favorite Christmas traditions.


  • Tell the nativity story using dolls and stuffed animals. You can also use a nativity toy set, like this Little People one.

  • Make a paper nativity scene that you can display. Here is a lovely one that you can print for free.

  • Look for nativity scenes set up at Christmas light displays.

  • Draw pictures of the nativity or print out a nativity coloring page.

  • Watch a movie about the birth of Jesus.

And now, for the list!

Note: all of the links are here for your convenience only. We get nothing out of sharing them except the happy hope that you might add one or two of these books to your own library.

  • Mouse's Christmas Gift by Mindy Baker, illustrated by Dow Phumiruk. This is not strictly a nativity book, but a nativity scene is a significant part of the story, so I include it.

  • The Stable Where Jesus was Born by Rhonda Gowler Greene, illustrated by Susan Gaber. This one is a step-and-repeat story, similar in style to The House that Jack Built.

  • Who is Coming to Our House? by Joseph Slate, illustrated by Ashley Wolf. A charming and sweet story about all the animals preparing for a special guest.

  • This is the Stable by Cynthia Cotten, illustrated by Delana Bettoli. Another step-and-repeat style story. This books has absolutely gorgeous folksy illustrations.

  • ‘Twas the Evening of Christmas by Glenys Nellist, illustrated by Elena Selivanova. This book is patterned after the poem A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement C. Moore, commonly known as ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.

  • Goodnight, Manger by Laura Sassi, illustrated by Jane Chapman. This is a fun book about Mary trying to get all the excited animals to quiet down so baby Jesus can sleep.

  • The Christmas Fox by Anik McGrory. I love this gorgeously illustrated story about a little fox being invited to meet the baby Jesus, and I think you will too!

  • The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado, illustrated by Liz Bonham. A sweet story about a little crippled lamb who feels left out when he is left behind, but it turns out that he’s able to be there when baby Jesus is born.

  • Happy Birthday, Christmas Child! by Laura Sassi, illustrated by Gabi Murphy. A counting board book about that nativity that is perfect for the youngest readers.

Do you spot any favorites? What other nativity-themed books would you add to the list?