10 Books That Are Out of This World!
Each and every one of us have marveled at the great vastness of space at one point or another. How could we not? Children tend to be especially enamored with the stars, planets, and other wonders beyond our own atmosphere.
This month we share ten books that will further inspire them. Some are purely informational, while others take on a storytelling format. Some share fascinating facts, and some peek into the lives of people who have made a difference in our understanding of space. We hope you and your children will enjoy them!
Born With a Bang: The Universe Tells Our Cosmic Story by Jennifer Morgan, illustrated by Dana Lynne Andersen
Gracing the shelves of Montessori elementary classrooms across the globe, this gorgeous book mirrors one of the most impressionistic lessons we give children. The beginnings of our universe can feel mysterious and full of wonder; Morgan brings the story to life in a way that gives children a sense of connection and understanding. One Montessori materials company was so inspired by this particular book that a series of materials were created to accompany it in classrooms.
A is for Astronaut: Blasting Through the Alphabet by Clayton Anderson, illustrated by Scott Brundage
A beautifully illustrated collection of various space ideas, this book was written by a retired astronaut. Andersen applied to be an astronaut 15 times before he was accepted into the program, and he hopes the book will inspire children. In this video, he talks about his path to becoming an astronaut and the making of the book.
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly, illustrated by Laura Freeman
Sometimes history has a bad habit of highlighting some people while minimizing the contributions of others. Fortunately, there are plenty of children’s book authors out there who are currently working hard to change that. In Hidden Figures, Margot Lee Shetterly gives voice to the stories of four black women (Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden) who supported the early work of space expeditions. Even during the time of segregation, when they were forced to work in a building separate from that of white mathematicians (or computers, as they were called then), they fought hard to follow their dreams and serve their nation.
Margaret and the Moon by Dean Robbins, illustrated by Lucy Knisley
The woman who is famous for writing code that made four separate space missions possible started out as a young girl who was full of curiosity and determination. Margaret studied hard in school, questioned the unequal treatment of girls and women, and found inspiration in math and the universe. She went on to make history and continues to serve as a model for children today.
The Girl Who Named Pluto: The Story of Venetia Burney by Alice B. McGinty, illustrated by Elizabeth Haidle
Did you know that the controversial planet was named after an 11-year-old girl? Venetia Burney loved dreaming about the planets, and the discovery of a ninth planet when she was a child was a dream come true. Her idea to name the planet Pluto was supported by her grandfather, and eventually, by the scientists who had discovered it. Children will love reading about the difference a young person can make!
I Am Neil Armstrong by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
Children really enjoy Meltzer’s I Am series, and this title about Neil Armstrong is no different. Long before his journey to the moon, Armstrong was a child who worked hard and learned about persistence. Having a peek into the early years of influential figures allows our children to relate to them on a much deeper level. The comic-style illustrations and factual information are appealing to elementary-aged children.
The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield, illustrated by The Fan Brothers
Hadfield, another former astronaut, wrote this book about some formative moments during his childhood. He recalls the night of the moon landing; he was just a boy and he and his family walked to a neighbor’s house to watch it on TV. He found the work of the astronauts so inspiring that he wanted to be one himself one day. In the meantime, he had to get over his fear of the dark...
Chasing Space Young Readers’ Edition by Leland Melvin
Books written by former astronauts are more plentiful than one might think! This one was written with older children in mind - think upper elementary and middle school-aged. Once a professional American football player, Melvin faced an injury and the end of his career, until he reinvented his life and went on to help build the International Space Station. Chasing Space Young Readers’ Edition is the 2019 winner of the Grand Canyon Reader Award for tween non-fiction. There is a version written for adults, too, if you’re interested!
Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet by Buzz Aldrin and Marianne Dyson
Famed Buzz Aldrin believes that humans could inhabit Mars, and he has big ideas on how that might work. He hopes to inspire children to want to learn about and explore space and wrote this book with that aim in mind. Here, Aldrin talks a bit about his own ideas about space travel and the making of the book.
Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover by Markus Motus
This book is praised for its sweet illustrations. In it, Motus semi-personifies the Mars rover Curiosity, but the information shared is factual. Children will be amazed by the interesting facts about space as well as delighted by the mission of the rover.