Space Books for Future Astronauts

Seira Wilson on July 23, 2019
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July 20, 2019 marked the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing and we've seen a renewed interest in all things space-related for kids this year.  The cosmos have long been a source of fascination, wonder, and childhood dreams of becoming an astronaut. For the young dreamers of today, there are a number of wonderful children's books available about space, and the history-making endeavor we now celebrate, when man first set foot on a planet far, far, away.

Below is a round-up of ten new children's books on space and the Apollo 11 moon landing in particular.  I've been stacking them up as they came across my desk over the past several months and while there are far more than ten to choose from, these are books I especially like, covering a wide range of ages.


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Imagine You Were There... Walking on the Moon by Caryn Jenner

AGES 7-11
I love the layout of this one. Imagine You Were There... Walking on the Moon is easy to read and interesting to explore, combining photographs and illustrations alongside short paragraphs of text. Walking on the Moon covers not only all the preparations of Apollo 11 but also what was going on in the world at the time, and the later impact this historic mission had on the future of space exploration.



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Flying to the Moon: An Astronaut's Story by Michael Collins

TEEN/YOUNG ADULT
A young adult adaptation of Apollo astronaut Michael Collins's bestselling autobiography, Carrying the Fire. While there are other books out there about Michael Collins, I think today's young readers will be interested in how Collins tells his own story and the vintage photographs they'll find here.  This edition has been revised and updated for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, and now includes an introduction by Captain Scott Kelly.



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Nerdy Babies: Space by Emmy Kastner

AGES 1-4
For the youngest armchair space explorers, this brightly colored board book introduces key concepts using simple text and fun illustrations.  Clever and informative, Nerdy Babies: Space will be of interest long after the excitement of the Apollo 11 anniversary has waned.



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Rocket to the Moon!: Big Ideas that Changed the World #1 by Don Brown

AGES 8-12
A very cool nonfiction graphic novel focusing on a big idea that became a reality: putting a man on the moon. There's a lot of humor here, and Brown also includes some unpleasant truths that don't often make it into text for young people but are nevertheless important, including the deaths of test flight participants and the "white men only" policy of the astronaut program. A fascinating historical look at the events and discoveries that led to the success of Apollo 11 and the next generation of space exploration.



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The Space Race: The Journey to the Moon and Beyond by Sarah Cruddas

AGES 6-9
An interesting and comprehensive history of space exploration and what it may look like in the future, with a foreword from NASA astronaut Eileen Collins.  Each full-color, two-page spread covers a different aspect of space exploration, including space dogs, the lunar rover vehicle, the role of the Command Module Pilot on the Apollo missions, and space junk.  This is one you can flip through at random if you wish, with a myriad of fascinating facts and stories throughout.



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Papa Put a Man on the Moon by Kristy Dempsey

AGES 4-8
A beautifully illustrated picture book, Papa Put a Man on the Moon tells the story of one of the many unsung thousands who contributed to the success of the Apollo 11 mission. In this case the subject is a young girls' father, a mill worker, newly tasked with weaving a special fabric for the astronauts' space suits.  Dempsey does a great job communicating the sense of pride in America at that time, and how ordinary working men and women helped make this moment in history possible.



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Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca

AGES 4-UP
Newly expanded to celebrate the 50th anniversary, Brian Floca's stunning picture book received a Robert F. Siebert Honor when it was originally published and remains a favorite for young space enthusiasts.  Floca does an amazing job of immediately pulling the reader into the journey alongside the astronauts, as they walk out in the hot Florida sun, and go through each step of climbing into the rocket that will take them to the moon. A remarkable illustrated narrative that has a sense of urgency not felt in other books.



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Who Was Neil Armstrong? by Roberta Edwards

AGES 8-12
A popular entry in the Who Was/Who Is series of nonfiction books, this one introduces young readers to the first man to set foot on the moon: Neil Armstrong.  Author Roberta Edwards includes information on Armstrong's childhood and early career as a test pilot, then delves into the astronaut program, Armstrong's leadership of the Apollo 11 mission, his historic first step and immortal words "that's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," and the difficult task of returning to planet Earth.  A good overview for those interested in learning about Armstrong.



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To the Moon and Back: My Apollo 11 Adventure by Buzz Aldrin

AGES 8-12
How could we have a round-up of books on the first moon landing and NOT include one that recounts Buzz Aldrin's experience in a pop-up book!  Text of Aldrin's account is accompanied by side bars and text bubbles that provide additional context and information for readers.  There are photographs and illustrations, and best of all, pop-ups.  A special book for this very special anniversary.



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Destination Moon: The Remarkable and Improbable Voyage of Apollo 11 by Richard Maurer

AGES 10-14
A compelling narrative nonfiction look at the Apollo space program--where the idea originated, the tremendous scope of the endeavor which employed half a million workers, and much more. Comprehensive accounts of the people most often associated with Apollo 11 are included, as well as the stories of many who made invaluable contributions but who have largely gone unrecognized.  Destination Moon tells the story of a unique time in our nation's history in a style that makes it feel almost like fiction--a tale of danger, discovery, and a race against an enemy nation.


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