Reading Road Trip: Construction Zone

Welcome to stop two on the Reading Road Trip! If you’re just joining us, be sure to download the roadmap so you can follow along. Also, sign up here for a chance to win a prize pack at the end of the summer! The reading road trip continues this week with a drive through a construction zone! Unlike construction zones in real life, which can slow us down or bring us to a full stop and add a lot of frustration to a journey, this construction zone is all about bringing a little construction-themed fun to the summer! So we hope you take some time this week to spend a little “building” time with your kids, reading books with a construction theme—whether that be books about building with blocks or bricks, toys or giant cranes. Continue reading for story time ideas and a construction themed reading list. Read : Books that fit the theme of “construction zone,” however you want to interpret it! FEATURED BOOK: Billions of Bricks by Kurt Cyrus Billions of Bricks by Kurt Cyrus is a book about b

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 14th

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 I’m telling you, you’ll want to order it right now. Here’s the link: 


DISCUSS: Since this is a novel in verse and we just experienced a month of poetry in April, you’ll notice all the wonderful poetry on every page. Once you’ve read the book, pick a page to discuss. Here’s a sneak peek from Mari in the Margins for context: 

Every time I go to lunch
Tyra is sitting alone
waiting for me

every time I go to lunch
she smiles at me
in relief
as if I saved her from a terrible fate

like sitting alone
in a middle school cafeteria.

It’s the best time
of the day.

Just me
and Tyra
ignoring the world.

Of course, you can pick any page you like. Then discuss: 

  • What emotion are you feeling after reading?

  • Which form of poetry do you think this is? (Most novels in verse are free form, but you’ll notice specific poetry forms in this book—plus rhyming and cadence!) 

  • What do you think will happen next? 

  • What sticks out to you about the main character? 

DO: Speaking of characters, you can create a character profile after reading this book! Pick a character from the book and choose a form for sharing what you know about them. You can do this by pretending to be the character and making a profile sketch, a concept map, a journal entry, or even an interview. 

For a special treat, Rebecca has answered a lightning round of fun interview questions as Mari! We are so glad to have Mari with us! Ready? 

QUESTION: What’s your favorite color?  

MARI: Indigo

QUESTION: Have you always lived in the same house? 

MARI: Yes. My parents bought it when they only had three kids.

QUESTION: What’s your first memory? 

MARI: I think it was seeing the twins in the hospital after they were born. I remember feeling amazed that there were two babies!

QUESTION: What’s your favorite food? 

MARI: I love my mom's chicken enchiladas.

QUESTION: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? 

MARI: The moon! But since that can't happen, my abuelo's small town in Mexico.

QUESTION: What’s your favorite book? 

MARI: Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creech.

QUESTION: What kind of music do you like? 

MARI: It depends on my mood, but probably almost anything besides country music.

QUESTION: What talent(s) do you have? 

MARI: I don't know. Does having really nice handwriting count?  

QUESTION: Is there anything you wish you could tell the world? 

MARI: Appreciate the people you love, even when they drive you crazy.

QUESTION: What are you looking forward to next year? 

MARI: Not being in sixth grade anymore.

Thanks for sharing with us, Mari! You’re amazing! Kids of all ages can relate to you! 

If you’d like, take these same questions, and answer them for a character of your choosing. (Hint: you may not know all the answers to these questions, but can you make a guess from what the text tells you?)

Once again, here’s the link for ordering your very own copy:



Mindy Baker said…
I love this post.. nice work, Marci! Congrats to Becki on your latest book! So exciting!!!