The solar system — the planets, stars, moon, space travel, all of it — is endlessly fascinating to kids. (And many of us adults, too.) Read these nonfiction and fiction books with your children to learn more about space — how to be an astronaut, what Mars life would be like, facts about the moon, and what happened to Pluto.
Best Books for Kids About Space
Hello World, Solar System by Jill McDonald (ages 2 – 5)
Perfect for toddlers and preschoolers, this nonfiction book about space is very age-appropriate. It asks questions and shares basic information in an accessible way. “Mercury is the closest planet to the sun. / Ouch! Asteroids and comets often hit this planet.” Cheerful paper cut, collaged illustrations make this very visually appealing.
My Pop-Up Space Book by DK (ages 4 – 8)
Isn’t this book fun!? Kids love pop-up. Add science information about space — the Earth, sun, moon, stars, space travel, and astronauts — and you’ve got an excellent nonfiction book choice for young learners.
A Place for Pluto by Stef Wade, illustrated by Melanie Demmer (ages 4 – 8)
Pluto used to be one of the famous 9 planets until one day he gets the worst news ever… he is too small to be a planet. He’s crushed. He searches the galaxy to find a place he fits. But he learns about comets and he’s not a comet. He talks to asteroids and meteoroids and he’s not one of them either. Finally, he discovers someone who looks just like him — a dwarf planet. The story skillfully entertains while educating readers about Pluto and other solar system elements. Great artwork throughout this fantastic, emotionally resonate story.
Astronaut (Busy People) by Lucy M. George, illustrated by AndoTwin (ages 4 – 8)
This is a wonderful, ethnically diverse picture book about Jenny and her work as an astronaut. Readers will enjoy finding out about Jenny’s day on the space station, including the hi-jinxes of her Robot-bot. The book concludes with more information and vocabulary as well as activities. Well done!
If You Decide to Go to the Moon by Faith McNulty, illustrated by Steven Kellogg (ages 4 – 8)
Written directly to the reader (you), this book gives you instructions for what to pack and expect if you travel to the moon. You’ll travel to the famous Sea of Tranquility where the first moon expedition landed. I like the facts and how the authors make the idea of moon travel personal as if we were really making this plan.
Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed, illustrated by Stasia Burrington (ages 4 – 8)
Beautifully illustrated and inspirationally written! Little Mae dreamed of becoming an astronaut. Her parents told her she could do it if she worked hard, taking Mae to the library to find information and encouraging her astronaut pretend play after dinner. Despite her teacher’s discouragement (“Nursing would be a good profession for someone like you”), Mae listened to her mom and stuck to her dream. Mae kept dreaming, believing, and working hard. She (Dr. Mae Jemison) succeeded; she became the first African American female astronaut in space.
Papa Put a Man on the Moon by Kristy Dempsey, illustrated by Sarah Green (ages 4 – 8)
I like the simplicity of this story that gives us a snapshot of an important time in history, the moon landing, through the eyes of a little girl whose hard-working blue-collar father worked on the fabric of the astronaut’s space suits.
The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons (ages 5 – 8)
This book has it all — from the lunar cycles to the moon’s effect on the oceans to the moon’s importance in various cultures, you’ll find everything in this helpful, illustrated nonfiction book.
Little Kids First Big Book of Space by National Geographic Kids (ages 6 – 12)
I LOVE this book — it’s like yummy mind candy. The vivid photographs and colorful layout catches your attention. The information shared is just the right amount of text and facts per page as to not overwhelm readers.
Pluto’s Secret An Icy World’s Tale of Discovery by Margaret A. Weitekamp with David DeVorkin, illustrated by Diane Kidd (ages 4 – 8)
This is a fascinating story of Pluto that will engage your kids (and you!) When Clyde Tombaugh discovered Planet X, a little girl who suggests the name Pluto after the Roman god of the dark underworld. She imagines Pluto was so far from the sun that it must also be a cold, dark place. However, Pluto knows he is no planet. So when astronomers declare him to not be a planet, he is thrilled. “Bingo!”
Astronaut Handbook by Meghan McCarthy
After reading all these books about space, your child might be wondering what it takes to become an astronaut! This picture book talks about the different jobs astronauts have and the hard work that you must put in before achieving this goal.
To Burp or Not to Burp A Guide to Your Body in Space by Dr. Dave Williams and Loredana Cunti, illustrated by Theo Krynauw (ages 6 – 12)
When you gotta go and you’re an astronaut, what do you do? Well, this book explains the details of peeing and pooping in space which is quite fascinating actually. But what about hair, brushing your teeth, taking showers, boogers, and burping? Well, you’ll find out that burping is high-risk without gravity and plenty more answers to the questions you never knew you had!
The Magic School Bus Lost in the Solar System by Joanna Cole
If you know these stories, you’ll expect that Ms. Frizzle takes her kids on a school bus – turned spaceship — through the solar system where they learn about space and experience harrowing adventures.
You Are the First Kid on Mars by Patrick O’Brien (ages 5 – 8)
This book imagines a future scenario where people live on Mars, maybe traveling through a space elevator to a space station to a rocket that will take you there. Once you’re living there, you can expect to help scientists and engineers with their important work. As you read this imagined future, you’ll learn information about the planet Mars.
Space Adventure Activity Book by Jen Alliston (ages 8 – 12)
Max Goes to The Moon by Jeffrey Bennett, illustrated by Alan Okamoto (ages 6 – 10)
Tori and her dog Max quest to the Moon, the first trip there since Apollo. Their trip inspires people back on Earth. The world joins together in building a great Moon colony, complete with a university and an astronomical observatory. 19 insets of information on each page give readers pertinent factual information about the phases of the moon, travel to the moon, and more. You might also like: Max Goes to Mars and Max Goes to Jupiter.
Finding the Speed of Light: The 1676 Discovery that Dazzled the World by Mark Weston, illustrated by Rebecca Evans
Story boxes and cartoon panels with often funny dialogue sit on deep purple background illustrations of starry skies. These combine to tell the history of Ole Romer, a Danish astronomer who discovered Jupiter’s four moons as well as his biggest discovery of all– the speed of light. There’s a lot of text but the cartoon panels break it up a little. Add this to your science classrooms and units on space.
Planets by National Geographic Kids / Elizabeth Carney (level 2 reader) (ages 6 – 9)
National Geographic Kids provides another fantastic nonfiction book with readable text for beginning readers without sacrificing content. Your kids will learn so much about the different planets in this little book. Can also be read aloud to younger children.