Apr 01, 2021 2021-04-01
Children’s book creator LeUyen Pham remembers the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic as a time of contrasts and confusion. So Pham did what authors do. She wrote. At first she wrote without a plan, observing what she saw in her neighborhood and in the world. Soon a pattern emerged. Within months, she turned her jotted-down ideas into the text and art for Outside, Inside, a picture book published in January 2021. The book never says words such as “coronavirus” or “quarantine,” yet through digitally illustrated scenes of families, workers, and neighborhoods pulled from real life in 2020, it’s a literary time capsule that can help children and adults reflect on their experiences during the pandemic. The story weaves a collective narrative of a period when everyone all over the world “just went inside, shut their doors, and waited.” At the same time, it reflects how differently people experience the pandemic based on their jobs, locations, and other circumstances. A special education teacher teamed up with Pham to create a teaching bundle with a read-aloud guide and hands-on activities to accompany Outside, Inside. The teaching bundle includes prompts for “think aloud” and “turn and talk” moments to use with specific pages. The prompts encourage children to share memories from quarantine through writing, drawing, and talking. The guide connects the activities to specific literacy standards related to developing and organizing ideas, writing sequences, and participating in collaborative conversations.