Inside Out and Back Again

Are you looking for an inspirational and educational book to read with your elementary school child ages 8 and up?

Inside Out and Back Again is an excellent book to read together with your child. I got the recommendation to read this book through the Girls Leadership Parent and Daughter Book Club, which celebrates and shares books that help young girls feel empowered. This book not only gives interesting history facts, but also helps the reader understand the perspective of a refugee and the hardships they go through to seek hope and freedom.

Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai tells the journey of a young girl named Hà. The story begins with in 1975 in the city of Saigon, Vietnam. Hà is a content young girl with a loving family who enjoys her close friends, beautiful and bountiful papaya tree and her community of close neighbors. Her missing father who never came back from the War makes it difficult for all family members, but throughout the story the family learns to cope with the truth of his disappearance. With the Vietnam War in her country, her family is forced to flee Vietnam for safety to a different country. After fleeing her country of Vietnam on a boat to America, the author tells the adventures and hardships that Hà goes through to get to a place of safety in the United States. Once she reaches the United States, she still struggles to learn the language but learns to feel empowered to stand up for herself against bullies in her school. This empowerment is facilitated by other strong characters in the book such as a close neighbor and her brother who teaches Hà how to stand up to her fears. Hà is a strong and inspirational girl that can help inspire young girls to stand up to their fears and work through any hardships.

This book is ideal for partner reading because of its easy to read layout, short chapters, and beautiful language embedded in the story. The perceptive of Hà made an impression on my daughter who not only learned about the Vietnam War but also understood the feelings and emotions that a refugee might go through when leaving their country and entering a new culture. In our present time, I think we need to all have compassion for others and reading books such as Inside Out and Back Again can help fuel perceptive taking for our young children. Take the opportunity during partner reading to explain certain vocabulary and recap after each reading and before the next one. Also, if your child is unfamiliar about where Vietnam is, use your globe or world map to show Hà’s voyage to America from Vietnam.

Are you a teacher? Check out this readers guide.  This readers guide is excellent because it not only has discussion questions but links to other resources that help aid in teaching various concepts in the book.

Inside Out and Back Again

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