It’s nearly impossible not to be fascinated by the mysterious expanse of the universe. From astronaut chickens to the final word on that controversial dwarf planet Pluto, here are 32 of our picks for best space books for kids. Just in time to celebrate Disney’s release of the new movie Lightyear, these stories will fuel your students’ interplanetary interests.
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1. Rylee the Young Rocketeer by JoAnn M. Dickinson
Rylee loves building parts for rockets and dreams about traveling throughout outer space with her best friend Cosmo by her side. Oh the adventures she’ll have, the friends she’ll meet, and all the things she will learn!
Buy it: Rylee the Young Rocketeer at Amazon
2. Super Cool Space Facts by Bruce Betts, PhD
Bursting with information about stars, planets, rockets, astronauts, and more, this book is one of the best space books for kids who love to dream about the wonders of the universe.
Buy it: Super Cool Space Facts at Amazon
3. If You Had Your Birthday Party on the Moon by Joyce Lapin
How amazing would it be to have your birthday party on the moon? Can you imagine having handstand contests inside a rocket? Or making moon angles in lunar dust? Filled with interesting facts, this book will spark your students’ imaginations.
Buy it: If You Had Your Birthday Party on the Moon at Amazon
4. Letters From Space by Clayton Anderson
Ever wonder what life on the International Space Station would be like? Astronaut Clayton Anderson spent 152 days there, and if he had been able to send letters home, they would have looked something like these.
Buy it: Letters From Space at Amazon
5. Real Spaceships by Z.B. Tucker
Get a glimpse into Buzz Lightyear’s life and learn all about what types of spaceships there are, how they work, and what they’re made of. Plus, learn about the amazing history of space travel, technology, rockets, and more.
Buy it: Real Spaceships at Amazon
6. A Moon of My Own by Jennifer Rustgi
It’s Harold and the Purple Crayon for the world-traveling child. Clever illustrations follow the shadow of a sweet and spunky girl around the world, showing different phases of the moon as seen from places like the Eiffel Tower and the Amazon rain forest.
Buy it: A Moon of My Own at Amazon
7. The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot by Margaret McNamara and Mark Fearing
In this interplanetary retelling of The Three Little Pigs, the mother of young alien siblings Bork, Gork, and Nklxwcyz sends them out into space to find their own homes. She doesn’t let them leave without a warning, though: beware of the comet-chomping, black-hole-ripping, Big Bad Robot!
Buy it: The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot at Amazon
8. Zelda’s Big Adventure by Marie Alafaci
Zelda is determined to be the first chicken in space. As in traditional versions of The Little Red Hen, she doesn’t get much help with her preparations from her poultry pals. Even so, she refuses to give up on her stellar dream.
Buy it: Zelda’s Big Adventure at Amazon
9. Oh No, Astro! by Matt Roeser
When a rogue satellite infringes on Astro the Asteroid’s “personal outer space” and knocks him out of orbit, chaos in the cosmos ensues.
Buy it: Oh No, Astro! at Amazon
10. The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield
Astronaut Chris Hadfield weaves a hushed, captivating memoir about watching the broadcast of the Apollo 11 moon landing as a child. The historic event changed Chris, giving him the confidence to pursue his dream of becoming an explorer of the “Darkest Dark.”
Buy it: The Darkest Dark at Amazon
11. Margaret and the Moon by Dean Robbins
Sometimes heroes wear pencil skirts and oversize eyeglasses. This biography will make everyone wish to be superstar NASA computer programmers.
Buy it: Margaret and the Moon at Amazon
12. National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Space by Catherine D. Hughes
With supersize photographs and all the interactive nonfiction text features typical of a National Geographic Kids book, this collection of facts about the moon, planets, and dwarf planets invites young space enthusiasts to pore over its pages.
Buy it: Little Kids First Big Book of Space at Amazon
13. Mousetronaut by Mark Kelly
Astronaut Mark Kelly imagined this tale of a brave little mouse that saves a space mission after a flight he shared with 18 research mice. After enjoying the fictional story, readers may be inspired to find out more about real-life animal astronauts.
Buy it: Mousetronaut at Amazon
14. Astronaut Handbook by Meghan McCarthy
“Welcome to Astronaut School!” From learning to be a team player to training on the Vomit Comet, this guide covers everything that leads up to blastoff!
Buy it: Astronaut Handbook at Amazon
15. Out of This World: Poems and Facts About Space by Amy E. Sklansky
A journey into the expanse of the universe is the perfect poetic inspiration. Sidebar explanations unpack each part of the trip.
Buy it: Out of This World at Amazon
16. Meteor! by Patricia Polacco
The iconic author’s very first published children’s book tells how a summer trip to her grandparents’ farm took an unexpected turn when a meteor crashed down in the meadow, shaking up small-town life.
Buy it: Meteor! at Amazon
17. Next Time You See the Moon by Emily Morgan
Written by a former teacher on a mission to remind children that things they see every day (or night) can be remarkable, this National Science Teachers Association book explains the reasons for the moon’s changing shape in a way that makes kids want to get outside and look. Bonus: The NSTA offers related teacher resources.
Buy it: Next Time You See the Moon at Amazon
18. You Are the First Kid on Mars by Patrick O’Brien
If you were to travel to Mars someday, how would you get there? What would you wear once you finally arrived on the red planet? Bottom line: What other experience could ever compare to being the first kid on Mars?
Buy it: You Are the First Kid on Mars at Amazon
19. If You Were a Kid Docking at the International Space Station by Josh Gregory
Lucy and Tim hang on their cousin Marie’s every word as she describes her training for a mission to the International Space Station. A video chat with Marie aboard the ISS gets her siblings dreaming about their own future space-related careers.
Buy it: If You Were the First Kid Docking at the International Space Station at Amazon
20. Reaching for the Moon by Buzz Aldrin
Buzz Aldrin’s best-known steps were those he took on the moon as the world watched. But how did he get there? From rock collecting to West Point, he tells his story alongside gorgeous paintings by Wendell Minor.
Buy it: Reaching for the Moon at Amazon
21. Once Upon a Starry Night: A Book of Constellations by Jacqueline Mitton
Illustrations overlay foil stars onto paintings of legendary figures like Andromeda and Orion and breathe life into what could look like—let’s face it—just a random mass of stars. Brief but vivid stories illuminate this collection of constellations.
Buy it: Once Upon a Starry Night at Amazon
22. A Full Moon Is Rising by Marilyn Singer
How do cultures around the world enjoy and honor the full moon? Find out in this collection of poems and accompanying background information.
Buy it: A Full Moon Is Rising at Amazon
23. How Do You Burp in Space? And Other Tips Every Space Tourist Needs To Know by Susan E. Goodman
Learn how to prioritize your two pounds of allotted luggage were you to take a celestial vacation one day. Also find out why you probably don’t want to bring along a can of soda. This manual makes outer space travel sound even better than Disney World.
Buy it: How Do You Burp in Space? at Amazon
24. I Love You, Michael Collins by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
When 10-year-old Mamie’s classmates all write to Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin for a school assignment, Mamie chooses to write to Michael Collins, the Apollo 11 astronaut in charge of staying with the ship. She comes to rely on her letter writing when no one else in her life seems to stick around.
Buy it: I Love You, Michael Collins at Amazon
25. Space Case by Stuart Gibbs
Being one of the first kids to call the moon home is actually pretty boring for 12-year-old Dash—but when a scientist turns up dead, life on Moon Base Alpha takes an interesting turn in this first installment of a series.
Buy it: Space Case at Amazon
26. Chasing Space: Young Readers’ Edition by Leland Melvin
When an injury tanks your professional football career, why not join NASA? Leland Melvin did.
Buy it: Chasing Space at Amazon
27. Hidden Figures: Young Readers’ Edition by Margot Lee Shetterly
Not only did Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden live through some of the most tumultuous times in U.S. history, they did so while using slide rules and adding machines to help NASA launch rockets.
Buy it: Hidden Figures at Amazon
28. 13 Planets: The Latest View of the Solar System by David A. Aguilar
Forget the mnemonics and songs for the order of the planets you learned in school. Pluto’s updated classification and the discovery of tongue-twisters Ceres, Eris, Haumea, and Makemake changed astronomers’ understanding of the galactic landscape. David Aguilar clears up misunderstandings with photos, diagrams, and clear-cut explanations.
Buy it: 13 Planets at Amazon
29. Mission to Pluto by Mary Kay Carson
Forty-six years after the Apollo 11 moon landing, crowds gathered to witness footage from a robotic probe that traveled for nine and a half years to make a pass over Pluto. The New Horizons mission redefined ideas of time, space, and what’s possible.
Buy it: Mission to Pluto at Amazon
30. See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng
What would you say in an audio recording about your life on Earth meant for extraterrestrials? And what would you find out about yourself along the way?
Buy it: See You in the Cosmosat Amazon
31. Smithsonian: Seven Wonders of the Solar System by David A. Aguilar
Never mind the Great Pyramid of Giza and Zeus at Olympus. This Smithsonian nonfiction text makes the case that the nature-made wonders of the universe are worthy of just as much reverence.
Buy it: Seven Wonders of the Solar System at Amazon
32. Women in Space by Karen Bush Gibson
From familiar names like Sally Ride and Mae Jemison to lesser-known female space pioneers, these stories profile an international collection of women who asserted themselves, overcame bias, and left their marks on the field of astronomy.
Buy it: Women in Space at Amazon