Best Space Books for Kids: 2016 Summer Reading List
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Summer is a perfect time to learn about space. Even if family vacations don't include stops at a NASA center or an air and space museum, kids can gaze at the stars deep into the night without worrying about the cold, and they can spend long, lazy days reading about the final frontier.
Here are a few of Space.com's favorite space books for children and young adults. The following list is just a sampling, of course; to learn about many other great titles, check out reviews by the National Space Society and the Planetary Society's Emily Lakdawalla.
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'Dinosaur Rocket!' (Nosy Crow, 2015; age range 3-6)
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'Little Kids' First Big Book of Space' (National Geographic Children's Books, 2012; ages 4-8)
This book, by Catherine Hughes and David Aguilar, is a great way to introduce young children to Earth, the solar system and beyond. It features gorgeous images — both photographs and illustrations — and explains tough concepts (such as black holes) in simple, easy-to-understand text. There are also some great tips at the back of the book about how to spark or further kids' interest in space science and exploration.
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'Mousetronaut: Based on a (Partially) True Story' (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, 2012; ages 4-8)
This endearing book, written by former NASA astronaut Mark Kelly and illustrated by C.F. Payne, tells the tale of Meteor, a tiny mouse who saves the day when things go south on a space shuttle mission. (Kelly actually flew with mice during a 2001 flight of the shuttle Endeavour, which explains the book's full title.) Kelly and Payne's follow-up, "Mousetronaut Goes to Mars," is also worth a read.
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'Max Goes to the Moon: A Science Adventure with Max the Dog' (Big Kid Science, 2003; ages 7-12)
In this book, which was written by Jeffrey Bennett and illustrated by Alan Okamoto, Max the dog and a girl named Tori go to the moon, and their journey inspires the people of the world to build a lunar colony. "Max Goes to the Moon" is engaging, beautifully illustrated and packed with scientifically accurate facts; it won the 2013 Science Communication Award from the American Institute of Physics.
Max the dog has had other space adventures; "Max Goes to the Space Station," "Max Goes to Mars" and "Max Goes to Jupiter" are all worth a read as well.
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'Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet' (National Geographic Children's Books, 2015; ages 8-12)
Former Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin is passionate about putting boots on Mars, and he lays out his vision of Red Planet colonization in this book, which was co-written with Marianne Dyson. "Welcome to Mars" also walks readers through a history of Mars exploration and discusses the planet's evolution and environment. It's a fascinating read that young space fans will snap up.
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'The Wrong Wrights: Secret Smithsonian Adventures' (Smithsonian Books, 2016; ages 9-12)
In this graphic novel, by Steve Hockensmith, Chris Kientz and Lee Nielsen, the most famous airplanes and spacecraft in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum are mysteriously replaced by balloons and blimps, and four middle-schoolers travel back in time to figure out (and fix) what went wrong. "The Wrong Wrights" delivers a lot of aviation and aerospace knowledge, and it's also a fun and fast read.
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'Sally Ride: A Photobiography of America's Pioneering Woman in Space' (Roaring Brook Press, 2015; ages 12 and up)
In 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman ever to fly to space. This book, by Ride's longtime partner Tam O'Shaughnessy, provides a fascinating inside look at the life of the famously private astronaut, who died in 2012 at age 61. It may well inspire a new generation of trailblazing spaceflyers.
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'Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void' (W. W. Norton & Co., 2010; ages 14 and up)
"Packing for Mars," by acclaimed science writer Mary Roach, answers the most pressing questions most of us have about spaceflight — for example, how do astronauts go to the bathroom in microgravity? There's no other book quite like this one, which examines the psychological and physiological effects of human space exploration in a very entertaining way.
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