Animals in Literature

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Outside In

Outside In follows a young girl as she plays inside and outside her home. The girl realizes that even when inside that the outside is still with her. Sights, sounds, and smells of the outside are still noticeable from the inside, we just have to pay close attention: light shining through a window, water running through pipes, and plants become food. Readers will become aware of the importance of nature and how much it plays a part in our daily lives.

Why use this book:

  • Highlights how animals, people and the environment are interconnected.

Animal Welfare Considerations

  • On the cover, and on one page of the book, the child’s cat is outside without a leash. We recommend that cats are supervised while outside, and do not have the ability to roam free. Cats are safer indoors and they kill less wildlife like birds and small mammals.
  • On one page of the book, the child is shown hugging her dog. While this is a common portrayal in many picture books, most dogs (even your family pet) are probably not comfortable being hugged. When dogs feel uncomfortable there is potential for them to bite.

Ask your students:

  • What do you think the title of the book means? Explain.
  • What is your favourite part about being outside?
  • What do you think the author means when she wrote “We forget outside in there”? Do you agree? Why or why not.
  • What are the ways the author considers outside reminding us it is there? Flashes at the window (a bird flapping its wings), slow magic tricks (a butterfly coming out of its cocoon), sunset and shadows inside to play (light shining through the window), etc.
  • Can you think of other ways that outside (animals and nature) can remind us it is there? Animal tracks, animal noises, animal sightings, leaves falling on the ground, buds blooming in the spring, etc.
  • What are some ways the outside is with us right now? Wood for desks, water in water bottles, cotton in clothing, etc.
  • Can you see nature? Can smell nature? Can you feel nature? Can you hear nature? Can you taste nature? Explain.
  • How does your sense help you experience nature? Explain.


  • Get Outside! – Take your class on a thirty-minute walk around your school’s neighbourhood. Encourage students to use their senses (safely) to explore their surroundings. After the walk, have students journal about their experience using the following prompts: I saw…, I smelled…, I heard…, I felt…
  • Protect the Environment – As we rely so much on the environment, it’s important to protect it. As a class, brainstorm a list of ways people can protect their environment. Encourage students to think of tangible things they and their family can do in their community to make an impact (picking up litter, reusing items, walking/biking when able, planting native species of plants to attract pollinators, etc)! Once the list is complete, have students make posters to hang in the school to encourage others to protect their shared environment.
  • Connection to the Land – Not only do people depend on nature for survival, many Canadians, including aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, feel connected to the land that they live on. As a class explore different ways that people can feel connected to the land. Land provides resources, culture, learnings, spiritual value, community, etc. Next discuss how different perspectives can influence the way we feel connection to land. Have students think about how different people might feel about land, such as farmers/ranchers, people living in logging communities, people living in cities, First Nations, Métis, and Inuit, people new to places, people who have lived on their lands for generations, etc. After the discussion, have students reflect on what land means to them and why they feel it is important to protect it. For more information see Connection to the Land: Traditional Life on the Land and The Value of Land.

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