It’s been a while since I wrote an article that reads more like a list of books for kids who like ‘insert their current obsession’. But they say to write what you know and based on what’s happening in my own house right now, the time has come to share books for kids who are really interested in space! Given the recent landing of the Perseverance rover on Mars, space travel and exploration seems to be on the forefront of my son’s mind. He loves anything related to space but especially Mars, whether it’s shows, movies, games, books, he can’t get enough and I bet there are lots of other kids just like him.  So if this sounds like a child in your life, read on for tons of page turning, fact filled books about the great unknown!

As mentioned, my son’s favorite planetary body is Mars and so he’s been absorbing everything he can about our red neighbor. If your child has a similar obsession, I suggest the following volumes:

Smithsonian Mars by Shauna Edson and Giles Sparrow – This illustration packed book is full of interesting info about Mars. Full of illustrations and archival photos, readers will definitely enhance their knowledge of our nearest planetary neighbor.

Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet by Buzz Aldrin and Marianne J. Dyson – Written by former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, this book focuses on what it will take to reach and establish a truly habitable base on Mars. My son is obsessed with what a terraformed Mars would look like so he’s all about this book!

The Mighty Mars Rovers by Elizabeth Rusch – There’s been a ton of media coverage about the Perseverance Rover and its companion helicopter and for good reason… it’s simply fascinating to live in the ‘future’ and bear witness to all of the amazing advances humans are making in space exploration. This book primarily focuses on the twin rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, who blasted off from Earth in the summer of 2003. This book documents the rovers missions on the Red Planet as well as the team back on Earth that built them and are responsible to keeping them working across millions of miles of open space.

Red Rover: Curiosity on Mars by Richard Ho, illustrated by Katherine Roy – Primarily a picture book, this volume tells the story of the Curiosity rover, the 4th to be launched by NASA, reaching Mars on August 6, 2012. It illustrates the trials the little rover faces on the distant planet, as well as the trails being blazed by its presence.

Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover by Markus Motum – This is also a picture book about the 2012 rover however it is presented as more of a first person account of what it means to BE the Curiosity. This book will carry the reader through a brief history of space exploration, as well as the conception, creation, launch, journey, landing and ultimately, the mission of the little robot that could.

Beyond books specifically about Mars, the kiddo also enjoys indulging in age-appropriate reads about all things space. Here is a sampling of the volumes he’s read lately, though trust me, this is by no means an exhaustive list.

Astrophysics for Young People in a Hurry, by Neil deGrasse Tyson with Gregory Mone – If you’re anything like me, you start to hear carnival music in your head when the topic of astrophysics comes up. It’s just such a mind blowing subject that I usually feel overwhelmed by the complicated theories and the absolutely huge formulas and calculations required to understand it. But it turns out that kids are undaunted by the topic, especially when they have a guide like this to help them break down the information into easily understood chunks. I highly recommend this book in conjunction with both the original and updated episodes of Cosmos.

The remaining recommendations have all been created by DK Publishing. The style of these books really appeal to me son, as they are both fact but also photo heavy. The combination of the two has really helped him to retain the info he’s read. I highly recommend DK Publishing books in all of the different topics available but they are presented in a way that captures the attention and interest of young readers.

Space Exploration by DK Eyewitness – Spanning the years between humans’ obsession with exploring space and the actual work done to bring that dream to fruition, this book covers what it took and continues to require in order to learn more about our vast universe.

Super Space Encyclopedia by DK Smithsonian – This 200 page encyclopedia covers it all, including information about our own solar system, as well as other stars and exoplanets that we’re just beginning to understand. From there, it branches out into further galaxies as well as the larger universe. Building on the aforementioned Space Exploration, Super Space builds on that knowledge to present more in-depth teachings of the many telescopes, probes and rovers humans have sent into both near and deep space. Finally, the encyclopedia covers many of the manned space missions that have sent humans into space. The last few pages focus on the mission of the yet to be launched, NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), which will launch either cargo or a capsule, capable of carrying four astronauts. The first launch was set for 2020 but it seems like even space travel can be impacted by such things as Covid-19. But stay tuned for this exciting next chapter in space exploration!

The final recommendations come from DK Findout!, a series of books that combine facts, photos, quizzes, interviews and more to teach readers about various subjects. The topics my son chose are space travel, the Universe and our solar system. These readers are chock-a-block full of kid friendly info. He could easily spend an hour poring over the pages… and who couldn’t use an hour away from our screens right now?!

I hope there’s something here for every young reader interested in learning more about space. Feel free to share your own favorite space-centric books in the comments below!

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