7 of the Best Space Books for Kids

Jaime Herndon


Jaime Herndon finished her MFA in nonfiction writing at Columbia, after leaving a life of psychosocial oncology and maternal-child health work. She is a writer, editor, and book reviewer who drinks way too much coffee. She is a new-ish mom, so the coffee comes in extra handy. Twitter: @IvyTarHeelJaime

This list of children’s books about space is sponsored by Astro Girl by Ken Wilson-Max.

Astrid has loved the stars and space for as long as she can remember. “I want to be an astronaut!” she says to everyone who will listen. While her mama is away, Astrid and her papa have fun acting out the challenges an astronaut faces on a space mission — like being in zero gravity, eating food from a kind of tube, and doing science experiments with the help of cookie sheets. When at last it’s time to meet Mama at the air base, Astrid wears her favorite space T-shirt to greet her. But where exactly has Mama been?

Space: the final frontier. There’s something about the night sky that captivates everyone, from small children to the oldest of us: the seemingly endless sparkles of stars, the mystery of how much we don’t know, and the wonder about what’s out there. For children, especially, space is magical—a whole world is out there, with so many things to learn and stories to read. There are a lot of children’s books about space and the solar system, but here are some of my favorites, spanning board books through young readers’ editions of adult books.

Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly and Laura Freeman

If you loved the movie or book Hidden Figures, then you’ll definitely want to share this book with your young reader. This picture book tells the story of how four African American mathematicians at NASA—Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden—helped provide necessary calculations and information for journeys into space.

Hello World! Solar System by Jill McDonald

This brightly colored board book is not only wonderful to look at due to the illustrations, but it’s also a fun book to read with your baby or toddler. It introduces each planet with a little fact about it, as well as some information about the sun, moon, and stars. It’s a perfect introduction to space and the solar system—I used to read it to my son as a baby, and even now, at three, he still loves looking at the book.

Space Encyclopedia: A Tour of Our Solar System and Beyond by David A. Aguilar

This is a National Geographic book written and illustrated by Aguilar, an award-winning astronomer, space artist, and author. He is also the former Director of Science Information and Public Outreach at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, so he knows a thing or two about space. The book is full of gorgeous illustrations of space, and is perfect for kids of all ages, exploring various planets and aspects of the solar system, types of stars, galaxies, other life in the solar system, and much, much more.

Hidden Figures (Young Readers’ Edition) by Margot Lee Shetterly

If you’re interested in the story of these African American female mathematicians but your children are a bit too old for the picture book mentioned previously, this young readers’ edition of Shetterly’s book of the same name is a great choice. Readers can learn about how these scientists known as “human computers” helped NASA journey to space.

Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed and Stasia Burrington

This beautifully illustrated picture book was inspired by the first African American woman in space, Mae Jemison. It tells the story of Mae as a little girl, who always knew she had big dreams that involved space. This is a great addition to a young child’s collection, as a reminder to hold tight to dreams and don’t give up.

Galaxy Girls: 50 Amazing Stories of Women in Space by Libby Jackson

This beautifully illustrated book gives kids a look at 50 women from around the world who were involved in exploring space in some way, from the 19th century to the present day. Engineers, astrophysicists, mathematicians, aerospace physiologists—they’re all here in this book. This is a perfect gift for space lovers who want to know more about some of the more obscure, lesser known scientific achievements associated with space exploration.

Chasing Space (Young Readers’ Edition) by Leland Melvin

Adapted for younger readers from the adult memoir, this is Melvin’s story about being a football player-turned-astronaut, along with his recovery from an injury that nearly left him deaf. Kids will love reading his story about how he faced challenges and forged ahead, and he also includes DIY experiments for kids to try, and a section of full-color photographs.

Which space books have you read, and which ones will you pick up?