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Outer Space Books for Kids | Children's Books | Astronaut Books for Kids | Sweet Peas & Stilettos
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Outer Space Books for Kids

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Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

This week Susan takes us on a ride to a far far far away place…

Space, for Beginners

A long, long time ago, my second grade class wrote to NASA, begging them to send us something, anything, to let us in on the secrets of space. We were hoping for chunks of moon rocks to arrive in padded envelopes, for Buzz Aldrin to mosey in through our classroom door, or for boxes of those nifty freeze-dried ice cream bars to replace our school lunches.

What we got, after several unbearable weeks of waiting, was what NASA could afford to send us. Pictures. Those, of course, were still pretty neat — nebulae as bright as backlit cotton candy and close-ups of Jupiter, with its colorful layers like a half-licked jawbreaker.

These days, even toddlers can go online and find far better pictures in just a few minutes. So much information is now available, in fact, that it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Not to mention all the disinformation about space from Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Little Einsteins.

If your child’s favorite sentence is “3-2-1 Blast-off!” these books may be a good place to start. And if you really want to give your child a taste of space, you can even buy the freeze-dried astronaut ice cream online now, too.

I’m Going to Be The Best Astronaut Ever! by Moira Butterfield, illustrated by Caroline Davis. This is an excellent first introduction for a younger child, with cartoony illustrations and stickers to put in throughout the book. Follow an astronaut’s journey from astronaut school to landing on a new planet, then returning to Earth and becoming famous. The language is simple and focuses on the basics, with lots of kid-funny lines such as “I will wear astronaut underwear!”

On the Moon, by Anna Milbourne, illustrated by Benji Davies and designed by Laura Fearn. This slightly more serious approach dramatically combines actual photos of the earth and moon with cartoon rockets and astronauts. Even though the story is straightforward, with only a line or two on each page, the book offers a wonderfully thorough overview of a moon trip: “To go outside, you have to put on a space suit. There is no air on the Moon. Space suits carry air so you can breathe.” The book prioritizes the astronauts’ time on the moon, riding moon buggies, collecting rocks, and taking pictures, rather than the trip home.

If You Decide To Go To The Moon, by Faith McNulty, illustrated by Steven Kellogg. A little boy imagines a trip to the moon, from the supplies he’ll need to how he’ll feel in the spaceship and on the moon’s surface. Amazingly, the book captures not only the excitement of blasting off, but also some of the loneliness and otherworldliness of a space voyage. The landing home is joyful, with the returning astronaut running across a beautiful green field. The book reminds the child – and the reader – to appreciate the Earth left behind.

Ben’s Bunny Trouble, by Daniel Wakeman. A little boy takes his stuffed bunnies on a tour of the galaxy, finally finding a planet where they’ll be happy. The pictures of truly unique aliens and planets (a bunny planet with giant carrot trees!) will delight any children interested in space. The story is told in a nearly-wordless, comic-book format that may need explanations even for older children.

Susan Fry is a writer and mother in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s written for Stanford Magazine, salon, the San Jose Mercury News, and many other publications.

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