About the Holiday
June, with its lazy feel and longer days, is the perfect month to spend time outdoors. Great Outdoors Week was established in 1998, but it quickly became apparent that only seven days were not nearly enough to enjoy everything nature has to offer. In 2004 the holiday was expanded to encompass the entire 30 days of June. So whether you enjoy activities on land or water, pack a picnic, grab some toys or equipment, and get out to play! Or if you just like quiet time, take a book and find a shady spot to read! Or if you love discovering new places, slip on your walking shoes and explore! Or…well, there’s just so much to choose from…!
Bringing the Outside In
Written by Mary McKenna Siddals | Illustrated by Patrice Barton
For kids there’s something magical about an open door. Going out leads to unexpected adventures, blissful messiness, and astonishing discoveries. Coming in means comfort, encouragement, and that homey feeling of being wrapped in love. Bringing the Outside In is an exuberant celebration of this harmonious juxtaposition for every season of the year.
In springtime four children in jackets and boots and their adorable puppy race to play on a blue, blustering day. Under soft, billowing clouds they leap into puddles, dig in the dirt, pick wildflowers, and play tug-of-war with the wind. Happily sated and with “Worms in our clutches / Wind in our hair, / Boots full of puddle, / Mud everywhere!” the kids skip toward home. They are greeted with smiles, towels, hooks for their coats, and a mop for the drips. Even the puppy knows it’s time for “Wiping it off, / Mopping it up, / Dumping it / out again.”
With the repeated chorus “We’re bringing the outside in, oh, / Bringing the outside in…” the spring turns to summer and the four kids are visiting the beach with pails, swim fins, goggles, float, and a ball to toss. With buoyant abandon they collect sea shells, meet hermit crabs, get properly soaked, and revel in the warm sunshine. The sun, sand, and sea follow them home, where they kick off their sandals, gather at the mudroom’s big double sink, and pin their suits on the clothes line while “Shaking it off, / Washing it up, / Drying it out again.”
Autumn once again finds the kids outside amid its brilliant colors and “Bushels of apples, / Leaves stuck on clothes, / Acorns in pockets, / Smells in our nose!” Back inside the kids make art of some of the apples and leaves they’ve collected, untangle more leaves from hair, clothes, and the puppy’s ears, and sweep even more out the door. With the onset of winter the kids plop in the snow, build snowmen, sled, and eat icicles. After a fun-filled afternoon and with “Slush on our seats” and a “nip in our fingers,” they know it’s time for “Bringing the outside in, then…Brushing it off, / Warming it up, / Thawing out again.”
A full year has passed, but the enchantment of spring, summer, autumn, and winter have not been forgotten outside. As the kids, comfy in their matching pajamas, huddle on the round rug poring over a box of photographs and souvenirs of their escapades, they’re happily “…keeping the outside in, oh, / Keeping the outside in….” And whenever they want to relive the “Treasures collected, / Pictures in heaps, / Stories remembered, / Memories for keeps!” that box contains, all it takes is a quick “digging it up” and “dusting it off” and “bringing it out again!”
Mary McKenna Siddals’ effervescent tribute to the joy of outdoor play perfectly captures the bouncy wonder young children exhibit in the freedom of a natural environment. Using evocative, lyrical language, Siddals imbues simple childhood pleasures with poetic resonance. The repeated phrases make this a great read-along, read-aloud book, and the children’s actions could easily be turned into fun movement games for school or family story time.
Patrice Barton’s endearing illustrations of the adorable ethnically diverse children at play are inspired and inspiring. Vivid swirls and streaks create splashing water, wind-whipped hair, swinging tires, and plenty of drips, drops, and delight. Children will love seeing themselves so affectionately depicted and will want to linger over the details on every page. One wonderful aspect of Bringing the Outside In is that the children can represent friends or they could be siblings.
Bringing the Outside In is a must for school libraries and would be a wonderful, often-read addition to a family library.
Ages 3 – 8
Random House Books for Young Readers, 2016 | ISBN 978-0449814307
Visit Mary McKenna Siddals’ Website to discover more about her and her books! You’ll also find lots of hands-on and online activities for Bringing the Outside In and her other books as well as teachers’ resources, and lesson plans.
Join in the fun with Mary McKenna Siddals on the Bringing the Outside In Facebook Page!
Visit Patrice Barton’s Website to view more of her adorable artwork, books, and blog posts!
Great Outdoors Month Activity
Personalized Painted Pail
A trip to the beach or park isn’t complete without a pail to collect shells, seaweed, sea glass, pebbles, sticks, nuts, or other things in. But why should all the cool stuff be on the inside? With this craft you can decorate your pail to show your unique personality!
- Plastic or metal pail
- Craft paint in various colors
- Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating, for multi-surface use
- Paint brush
- Paint designs on the pail
- When paint is dry spray with acrylic coating to set paint
- Let dry