Outside In

Book review by
Carrie Kingsley, Common Sense Media
Outside In Book Poster Image
Gorgeous but moody images contrast with joy of outdoors.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shows how nature can affect a kid, and how elements of the outside can be found in our inside world.

Positive Messages

Connection with the outside brings joy and peace.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character is curious about the world outside. 

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Deborah Underwood's Outside In, i;lustrated by Cindy Derby, is a simple reminder, on beautifully illustrated pages with a touch of sadness, that the outdoors is full of wonder even when we've come back inside. In just a few words, each page shares the idea that we can bring the outdoors with us as bugs, sticks, and food, and also with the feelings of warmth, light, and the wonder of nature. Younger readers will benefit from talking about the story so they can make more solid connections to their own experiences. The illustrations might make some readers feel a bit melancholy even though the words are meant to be uplifting.

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What's the story?

OUTSIDE IN follows a young girl as she plays inside and outside her home. As she spends more time indoors, she realizes how much of the outdoors is still with her. The smells, light, and textures of the outdoor world come inside with us, just in different ways: Sunlight comes through windows, water flows through taps, food outside becomes food inside. Nature can touch us even when we're in our cars and homes, and is there for us to enjoy when we go outside.

Is it any good?

There's a lovely message here about the importance of our connection with nature, but the warmth of the words can get muddled with the moody, slightly melancholy images. Outside In helps emerging readers see that all the things they love outdoors can bring them joy indoors. Cindy Derby's watercolor illustrations, though, bring a sadness to many pages, showing the girl not happy where she is. Talking about the story as it unfolds will help the younger set understand and process their feelings, and see the beauty in the words.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how they feel when they've been inside for a while, like in Outside In. What do you miss? Do you ever feel like the outside is with you indoors, too?

  • When you think of being outside, what is the first place you think of being, and what do your five senses tell you about that place?

  • Who do you like to go outside with? Who do you like to be inside with?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and books about nature

Themes & Topics

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