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Best space books for kids 2022: Educational books and fun stories for kids and teens

The order of the planets in the solar system - Best space books for kids 2022
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The best space books for kids and teenagers will embrace a number of themes. We've picked some of the top sellers and most representative titles to add to your library.

Parents and caregivers will like the emphasis on STEM (opens in new tab) (science, technology, engineering and math) along with these books' encouragement of diverse themes. Kids will also like learning about these things, while enjoying illustrations and in some cases, building up their literacy skills by reading about space topics they enjoy.

We've picked the best space books for kids that have come up recently. Some of these books are science fiction, while others are focused more on biographies or activities. The goal is to give your teens and kids several entry points into space to see where their interests will lead them next.

Embedded in these books will be a few things that long-time space explorers will appreciate. There are references to what being a planet means, which is relevant for fans of Pluto (opens in new tab). There are tales of interesting people who made a difference despite systemic obstacles, including the Mercury 13 (opens in new tab) or the Hidden Figures (opens in new tab). There are also wonderful space images (opens in new tab) taken from Earth or from other celestial locations, showcasing the beauty of our universe to those that are open to seeing it.

We hope that these books will encourage your kid or teen to keep reading and to keep learning about STEM topics that have meaning to them. Many of us at Space.com first got interested in space when we were quite young, so we know the power of a good story in bringing new people into the field. Good luck!

And for adults or older teens looking for something more age appropriate for themselves, we've also gout our guides to the best astronomy books and the best sci-fi books.

Best space books for children (12 and under)

Astronomy Activity Book For Kids

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1. Astronomy Activity Book For Kids

100+ Fun Ways to Learn About Space and Stargazing

Specifications

Price: 8.99
Author: Aurora Lipper (Author), Victoria Stebleva (Illustrator)
Publisher: Z Kids
Release Date: September 14, 2021

Reasons to buy

+
Introduces kids to planets and constellations
+
Contains engaging STEM activities
+
Includes advice for practical stargazing
+
Adds videos for supplementary learning

Reasons to avoid

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Lacks spiral cover for easy opening
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Biased towards Northern Hemisphere
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Hard to bring outside for stargazing
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Some activities require equipment

Aimed at ages 5 to 7, this book by a former NASA scientist gives kids an excellent introduction to the sky. They'll learn about planets, constellations and other big targets. Learning is reinforced through engaging STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities that are kid-friendly.

The book is also richly illustrated, which may help younger readers who may not be comfortable with all the terminology. With an astounding 160 pages available, youngsters will finish this book being able to find at least some things in the night sky. They also will have a handy entry point for more research, especially because the book includes a list of resources at the end, such as kid-friendly educational videos.


Hidden Figures

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2. Hidden Figures

The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race

Specifications

Price: 10.89
Author: Margot Lee Shetterly (Author), Laura Freeman (Illustrator)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: January 16, 2018

Reasons to buy

+
Complements the Hollywood movie
+
Introduces kids to equity, diversity, inclusion
+
Shows civil rights and science history
+
Richly illustrated to attract younger readers

Reasons to avoid

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Lacks some biographical detail
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Prioritizes facts over story
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Includes some advanced vocabulary
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Some readers say it can get dull at times

Aimed at ages 4 to 8, this book is a simplified and richly illustrated version of the "Hidden Figures" story that has also appeared in Hollywood and in a bestselling adult's book. The book features the biographies of four Black women who worked at NASA during the early 1960s, facing barriers such as segregation and sexism to help the astronauts of the time land on the moon.

The book is an example of how people behind the scenes can make a difference, but also serves as a good point of discussion for equity, diversity and inclusion in young audiences. While the book is more biographically focused and has less of a storytelling aspect, the four women themselves are good examples of how diversity can make a difference in space exploration and science fields.


My First Book of Planets

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3. My First Book of Planets

All About the Solar System for Kids

Specifications

Price: 6.79
Author: Bruce Betts
Publisher: Rockridge Press
Release Date: June 16, 2020

Reasons to buy

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Includes basic information about the planets
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Up-to-date with information on dwarf planets
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Vocabulary is perfect for young readers
+
Illustrations complement interesting facts

Reasons to avoid

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The pages are matte, not glossy
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The book construction appears delicate
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Some images are lacking clarity
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Says Pluto is not a planet

Aimed at ages 3 to 5, this book serves as an up-to-date introduction on the planets of our solar system. Some readers may be unhappy that Pluto is officially designated not a planet, which doesn't fit the view of all astronomers. But overall, the book has a rich diversity of solar system worlds, including dwarf planets.

At times, the illustrations may fall a little short of expected, but they do perfectly complement the facts. Even the youngest children will be able to remember interesting information about the worlds around us, thanks to this book. Overall, the book serves as a great jumping-off point for curious kids looking to learn more about the universe, and is a perfect introduction to astronomy and science.


Gutsy Girls Go For Science: Astronauts

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4. Gutsy Girls Go For Science: Astronauts

With Stem Projects for Kids

Specifications

Price: 14.95
Author: Alicia Klepeis (Author), Hui Li (Illustrator)
Publisher: Nomad Press
Release Date: September 24, 2019

Reasons to buy

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Introduces female role models to youngsters
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Includes innovative STEM activities
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Packed with sidebars and fun facts
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Adds more information with QR codes

Reasons to avoid

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Lacks many pictures to reinforce concepts
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Very focused on a few individuals
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Little storytelling in favor of activities
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Use of QR codes may leave out kids without phones or computers

Aimed at kids aged 8 to 11, your hands-on youngsters will appreciate this book filled with STEM activities. This book is part of a larger series focused on females in fields such as engineering and coding. This particular edition focuses on astronauts, showing the types of science this profession demands in orbit. Best yet, the kids get to try out simplified versions of the science themselves.

While the book only focuses on a few individuals, it does illustrate the roles of astronauts of multiple genders and how they contribute to space exploration. QR codes will help kids step off into their own exploration by viewing TEDx talks or other videos that are on similar science topics to what is contained in the book.


There's No Place Like Space

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5. There's No Place Like Space

All About Our Solar System

Specifications

Price: 6.00
Author: Tish Rabe (Author), Aristides Ruiz (Illustrator)
Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 26, 1999

Reasons to buy

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Serves as an affordable introduction to space
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Helps kids gain confidence with reading
+
Includes rhymes to assist with memorizing
+
Contains beautiful illustrations of the planets

Reasons to avoid

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Only appropriate for beginning readers
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Quite dated for today's kids
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Fans will see no mention of Dr. Seuss
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Has a rude reference to Uranus

Aimed at "beginning readers" aged 5 to 8, parents (and kids) who enjoy Dr. Seuss stories will appreciate this entry about planets. The book goes over what the authors deem to be the eight planets of our solar system, so just be aware that kids who know about Pluto's planet debate will have some questions to ask you.

The book's age shows at times, including a rude joke about Uranus that today's children may feel uncomfortable with repeating. But the elements of Dr. Seuss are otherwise timeless, with the rich illustrations, the interesting characters, and the tongue-twisting rhymes that will leave you and your child laughing as you move through them. 


Best space books for teens (13 to 17)

Women in Space

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1. Women in Space

23 Stories of First Flights, Scientific Missions, and Gravity-Breaking Adventures

Specifications

Price: 11.89
Author: Karen Gibson
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Release Date: March 3, 2020

Reasons to buy

+
Discusses the Mercury 13 and other women of space exploration
+
Has a wide span of people who have flown in space or done research about it
+
Corrects the historical record about some individuals
+
Highlights equity, diversity, inclusion

Reasons to avoid

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Biographies lack in detail at times
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Illustrations are quite small
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Some readers may find the writing dull
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A lot of focus on sexism, less on science

Aimed at ages 12 and up, this comprehensive set of 23 female biographies profiles women who have worked in space or who have done a lot to support its exploration. Readers looking to learn more about the Mercury 13, or who want to read about female firsts in countries around the world, will greatly enjoy this book.

While illustrations are small and the text at times tilts a little hard at sexism, it does showcase the reality and the difficulties of the early female space explorers. Readers interested in fields ranging from the sciences to engineering will also get inspired, as the book talks a little about the work these women did in space to advance these fields.


A Complicated Love Story Set in Space

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2. A Complicated Love Story Set in Space

Specifications

Price: 11.99
Author: Shaun David Hutchinson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: February 15, 2022

Reasons to buy

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The main characters are enjoyable to learn about
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The romance story between teenaged boys is rather sweet
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Each character is very true to what it feels like to be a teen
+
It makes you wonder how teenagers will react to space as tourism opens up

Reasons to avoid

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Some main plot questions will be unanswered
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The book is quite long, for reluctant readers
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Few science elements discussed, in favor of science fiction
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Pacing is uneven, although satisfying

Aimed at ages 14 and up, this book quickly brings you into a teenaged romance between boys that takes place shortly after a disaster in space. The three main characters are very believable adolescents and often, readers say that their main complaint is they want to learn more about what happened after the events of the book.

With authenticity at its core, and space as a stunning backdrop, the story is a great exploration into what it means to be growing up amid adverse circumstances. While we at times have less about space and more about plot, after all, this is a fiction novel. At 400 pages, happily, we'll get a chance to ride along with these characters for a while.


Dune

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3. Frank Herbert's Dune Saga 6-Book Boxed Set

Specifications

Price: 64.33
Author: Frank Herbert
Publisher: Ace
Release Date: August 25, 2020

Reasons to buy

+
A perfect complement to the 2021 movie 
+
Effortlessly combines space and politics
+
Amazingly diverse, given the story is half a century old
+
Tells the story of a space journey from a teenaged perspective

Reasons to avoid

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Very expensive (maybe buy one book at a time)
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Dated at times, as the original story was written in 1965
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The books are small and do not come in a boxed set
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Some readers say the books are very delicate

Aimed at teenagers about 14 or 15 and older, "Dune" is of course a classic series now going through its third generation of readers. Fans of the 2021 movie, or any of the comic books or other presentations of the story, will appreciate the chance to dive into the story in detail. Given the price of this set, though, you may want to invest in one book at a time to pace out your spending.

"Dune" is a remarkably prescient book for its time, given it was written in 1965. Some readers may find dated elements to it, but the experience of being a teenager in a complex world still has a lot of resonance today. Today's teenagers will also appreciate the efforts at equity, diversity and inclusion that the young protagonist seeks, even when other forces are against him.


The Astronomy Book

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4. The Astronomy Book

Specifications

Price: 14.29
Author: DK
Publisher: DK
Release Date: February 2, 2021

Reasons to buy

+
Emphasizes facts with illustrations and flow charts
+
Includes a variety of objects, from quasars to pulsars
+
Highlights people of multiple genders contributing to space
+
Packed with interesting information across the universe

Reasons to avoid

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More emphasis on history than new findings
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Some ideas might be obsolete
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The information might be technical at times
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Biographies are sometimes favored over science findings

Aimed at young adults, this book aims to capture a breadth of topics about astronomy and the universe in which we live. While much of the book is a history of where we got today, it is a richly illustrated journey with pictures, flow charts, fact boxes and other elements to keep today's multimedia generation engaged.

The biographies, of which there are many, at least highlight people of multiple genders contributing to astronomical discoveries. The book also isn't afraid to dive into the big debates of our era, whether it be how the Big Bang kickstarted the universe or what the real definition of a planet should be.


Space Atlas, Second Edition

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5. Space Atlas, Second Edition

Mapping The Universe And Beyond

Specifications

Price: 34.49
Author: James Trefil
Publisher: National Geographic
Release Date: October 23, 2018

Reasons to buy

+
Includes incredible photos of space vistas
+
Moves the reader comprehensively through the solar system and beyond
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Richly updated with new spacecraft data
+
Perfect for dipping in or reading cover to cover

Reasons to avoid

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The book is for advanced audiences only
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Each topic is only touched on briefly
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Sometimes information is sacrificed to include an image
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Not a very portable set of information

For young readers and some adults, this book is a lovely tour through our solar system through the eyes of telescopes, spacecraft and other cosmic visitors. You'll get a brief, but excellent tour of topics from planets to galaxies. The pictures are second to none, and the information serves as a guide to learn more.

Advanced readers will enjoy this book best, although they may find that they don't get as deep a dive on the topic as they wish. The book, however, does seek to touch on many topics, which means you can use each section as a further reading guide to figure out more about our fascinating universe.

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Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a contributing writer for Space.com (opens in new tab) since 2012. As a proud Trekkie and Canadian, she tackles topics like spaceflight, diversity, science fiction, astronomy and gaming to help others explore the universe. Elizabeth's on-site reporting includes two human spaceflight launches from Kazakhstan, and embedded reporting from a simulated Mars mission in Utah. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc (opens in new tab). in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, and a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University. Her latest book, NASA Leadership Moments, is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday.