Many moons ago, when I was dating my now-husband, we went on a date to Sky Meadows State Park in central Virginia. It was an evening for amateur astronomers, complete with some impressive telescopes set up behind the 1860s farmhouse. Without city lights obstructing the night sky, we laid on our backs underneath the pin-pricked canopy.
There were no words for the immensity of that night, only the beaming lights of a million stars glittering down on us. It was the first time I understood why people became fascinated with space—the unexplored unknown holding hope for humanity. The juxtaposition of light and dark, the vastness of space vs. the minuteness of the individual.
The jaw-dropping wonder of space is for all ages, and these fact-packed and fiction books alike are an ode to that age-old exploration, fascination, and curiosity of things beyond planet Earth.
Astro Girl by ken wilson max
Astrid loves space and aspires to be an astronaut. When she tells her Papa her dream, he asks a series of questions to ensure she’s ready for such a rigorous career. Soon we learn Astrid has a real-life astronaut hero (her mother) in whose footsteps she’s hoping to follow.
With a brief bio of other women astronauts, this is an inspiring book for young space lovers.
The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield
As an astronaut, Chris was always busy with important work. But when bedtime came, the darkness brought out the worst sort of alien-like creatures, and it made it nearly impossible for Chris to sleep in his own bed.
On the night before a special day, Chris managed to do it and blasted off to the moon in his dreams. The next night neighbors gathered around the only TV on the island to watch real astronauts. They were jumping for joy in puffy white suits.
Written by a genuine astronaut and illustrated by the highly regarded Fan Brothers, this is one of the best space-themed picture books out there.
Pop-up moon by Annabelle Buxton
“Where did the moon come from?” One theory is that the moon passed by Earth a long time ago and became trapped by its gravity. Another idea is that there was a large crash of planets, and the moon formed from the rocks and dust left orbiting the Earth.
The moon’s surface is speckled with dark and light patches, and the atmosphere is extremely cold. Learn why the moon sometimes appears red and why there are a multitude of powers attributed to it. The changing face of the moon shifts as it orbits the Earth, which is demonstrated in one of the many paper-engineered pop-outs in this remarkable nonfiction book.
Moonshot: The Flight of apollo 11 by Brian Floca
“High above this is the Moon, cold and quiet, no air, no life, but glowing in the sky.” Back on earth, men and women are sewing suits, assembling ships, and writing computer code. Three men have trained and said good-bye to loved ones. Their spacecrafts are Columbia and Eagle. On the salty shore of Cape Canaveral, crowds await Apollo 11’s final countdown until a fiery blast lifts the rocket skyward.
Follow the aircraft through its entire mission and revel in the details of each spread. Although Moonshot is a more text-heavy picture book (likely best for ages 6+), it is a stirring account of the space leap pivotal in American History. We highly recommend it.
The Space Walk by Brian Biggs
Randolph Witherspoon communicates to Ground Control that he’d like to take a walk. A spacewalk, that is. After exercise, lunch, and a bit of tidying up, Randolph is allowed to exit the spacecraft. He packs up his camera and heads out the door, missing the final command from earth: “Don’t talk to strangers!”
Mesmerized by the wonder of constellations and colorful orbs, Randolph soon encounters an out-of-this-world creature with whom he exchanges photos. Readers are encouraged to make their own dialogue during the wordless middle portion of the book, which makes for a memorable space walk indeed.
I want to be an astronaut by byron barton
Being an astronaut means being a member of a crew. It means lifting off in a rocket and having a mission to complete. It means eating pre-packaged meals and sleeping in zero gravity. It means space suits and floating and eventually returning to earth.
Sparse text and Todd Parr–like illustrations (with bold primary and secondary colors throughout) make this ideal for very young readers.
Margot and the Moon Landing by A.C. Fitzpatrick
Margot reads the same books about space every night. Whenever Margot learns a new space fact, she shares it with anyone near her. One night Margot drifts off to sleep, wishing she could only speak about space for the rest of her life.
In the morning, Margot soon discovers that the only words coming out of her mouth are Niel Armstrong’s 1969 mission to the moon. Flummoxed by her inability to communicate throughout the entire school day, Margot takes out her anger by scrawling her feelings onto her bedroom wall. When her mother finally listens to her, they make her bedroom into a space oasis and a place for Margot to write out her thoughts.
A freshly published take on childhood fixations and longings to be heard.
Moon Pops by Heena Baek
On a hot summer night, the animal tenants of an apartment building are too hot to sleep. Fridges hum, and soon a drip, drip, drip is heard. Looking skyward, Granny notices that the moon is melting. She quickly runs out of her apartment to catch the falling moon drops.
Struck with an idea, Granny whisks the drops into a frozen treat, which she soon shares with her neighbors as everyone steps outside to see what caused a power outage. When the neighbors have licked the last of their moon pops, two rabbits appear (who previously lived on the moon), hoping to find refuge.
Based on a Korean folktale, this wildly strange and whimsical picture book is Wes Anderson-like and a refreshingly imaginative tale for children of all ages.
Roaring Rockets by Tony Mitton
“Rockets have power. They rise and roar. This rocket’s waiting, ready to soar.”
Rockets carry supplies, helmets, and suits. After they blast off, the large fuel tanks drop off, making the rocket lighter and faster. In space, astronauts buckle up tight, but on the moon, they collect specimens before coming back to earth. The command module is where astronauts crowd before landing in the water and being whisked away by a rescue helicopter.
This 20-year-old rhyming book explains rocket parts and astronaut jobs in an approachable preschool-friendly way.
Looking Up: An Illustrated Guide to Telescopes by Jacob Kramer
Sight is one of the ways humans organize the world. By extension, telescopes are ways to extend that sight, looking into a vast expanse to things beyond the naked eye.
For hundreds of years, back to Galileo, telescopes have made things appear closer and have revealed color previously not seen. From the VISTA telescope on a Chilean mountaintop to the Keck Observatory in Hawaii, telescopes throughout the world gather data about distant stars. Learn about black holes, the Hubble Space Telescope, and how human eyes are like tiny telescopes in this information-rich volume.
Mousetronaut by Mark Kelly
NASA is sending mice into space, and the smallest mouse, Meteor, is selected for the sixth and final spot. After the shuttle liftoff, the mice cling to their cages in terror. But Meteor loves the feeling of floating.
During the fourteen-day flight, the astronauts are busy with work and experiments, leaving Meteor to wonder how to help. When the control panel key gets wedged in a tricky spot, Meteor proves the true hero by retrieving the key from a cramped crack and saves the mission!
Read more about Endeavour’s mission at the back of the book.
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