Two Wonderful Kid’s Books About Space

Wednesday March 8, 2017

With Bean’s latest interests looking skyward and beyond, I racked up a stack of books about space at the library last week. These two stand out as some of the best children’s books I’ve ever read on a scientific topic. No really.

Both books share a similar storyline, plot, and cadence, to the point that I was surprised they weren’t written by the same author. They’re also both written in the uncommon 2nd person. Even so, they’re still both worth getting.

In If You Decide to Go to the Moon, Faith McNulty guides us through a rocket blast off, through the atmosphere and into space. You Are the First Kid on Mars by Patrick O’Brien gets into more logistical detail about how travel to Mars would be possible, but it’s also about a kid blasting off into space on a rocket to a distant land, Earth receding into the distance.

Both books share precise descriptions, to the extent that you and your child will feel what it’s like to travel through the atmosphere, to be weightless in space, to walk on the moon or Mars through exotic soils and landscapes, in addition to the loneliness and smallness that come along with being so far from Earth. The accompanying artwork is also gorgeous.

Geology, meteorology, astrology, physics, relativity, nuclear science, and engineering come alive in the poetic descriptions, perfectly suitable as an introduction of these concepts for little kids but will also lead to further questions by big kids. I love their way of teaching gravity — as a relative feeling that can change rather than a scientific reality — to young kids. Newtonian physics can wait a few years. Both books manage to teach all of this without coming across as dense or boring nonfiction.

Have I said enough yet? If you love science, these books are just beautiful.

Bean has requested the books on repeat ever since I brought them home. I can only imagine her placing herself in the kid’s shoes, able to imagine for once what it would actually be like to be an astronaut. (Perhaps needless to say, both books have a boy protagonist. Space and baseball. Sighs.)

If your kid is also into space, I’d highly recommend them.

Books, Parenting

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