Skip to main content

Space, and Our Place In It!

Staring up into the wondrous night sky and witnessing infinite lights shine down upon us has awakened the imagination of children for as long we’ve been on this planet. Whether it’s wondering what is out there, or how we came to be down here, children are fascinated with both the known and unknown of the universe.

Now, wait until you they get a load of these books which will tickle their funny bone and spark the flame of curiosity with tales of life and space.
Painting of earth in space with satellites orbiting

Here We Are: Notes for Living from Planet Earth
Written and illustrated by Oliver Jeffers

Welcome, newborn earthling. Oliver Jeffers has laid out all that he thinks you will really need to know to begin to live on planet Earth. First, the Earth’s place is mapped in our solar system, a system that is one in a trillion, and in a very big dark space. The narrator divides Earth into its requisite parts of land, sea, and sky, and how what we know of them varies so much. He then introduces a newborn earthling to the world of people as well as to its single human body and personhood, sweetly reminding the newborn of how he or she needs to eat, drink, and stay warm. A world of animals also appears, and the narrator urges the newborn and other people to be kind to animals, even if our fellow animals cannot speak in languages we understand. The narrator continues on, advising the newborn to be mindful of the passage of time, to get along with the millions of others who also live on Earth, and to remember to ask when not sure about something.

The book’s gentle tone helps convey an overall message appearing at the end of the book, attributed to Oliver’s father: “There are only three words you need to live by, son: respect, consideration, and tolerance.” The author illustrates space, planet Earth, its life and inhabitants with cheerful cartoons, figures, shapes, and diagrams that both adults and children can enjoy and understand. The book presents both natural facts and its message succinctly, clearly, and lovingly. (Ages 3‑7 years)

Check Availability

An astronaut holding a gift box walking on the surface of Mars as an alien peeks up from a crater

Life on Mars
Written and illustrated by Jon Agee

In this sly tale, a brave young astronaut lands on Mars, bringing gifts to give to the life he’s certain to find. After the young astronaut disembarks from his spaceship and begins to search for Martian life, he unknowingly catches the attention of a curious Martian hiding in the harsh, endlessly rocky terrain. As the young astronaut discovers how inhospitable Mars is—dark, cold, dirty and gloomy—he doubts out loud whether he will find any life to give his gift of chocolate cupcakes to. That’s when he woefully abandons his gift and decides to return home to Earth, only to realize he is lost. His mission to Mars now seems likely to end in failure until unexpectedly, in a crevice of a rocky outcrop, he spots a beautiful yellow flower. Hooray, there is life on Mars after all! Yet how, he wonders, will he return home to Earth to let everyone know of his discovery, if he cannot find his space ship? Read the book to find out how the young astronaut finishes his mission successfully and takes home a parting gift from a curious Martian.

As well as this delightful story, Jon Agee is also the award‑winning writer and illustrator of several books, including the recent, The Wall in the Middle of the Book. He illustrates this story with comic characters memorable for absurd, hilarious expressions and actions, as well as scenes that will all have readers wishing and waiting for a sequel. (Ages 4‑8 years)

Check Availability

Two alien characters zipping through space in a flying saucer

Out There
Written and illustrated by Tom Sullivan

Everyone has looked up at stars in the sky and imagined… surely, we (on Earth) are not alone! The universe is so big—and by now, creepy aliens with eerie eyes or evil robots with green tentacle arms or cool blasters should have been watching us from a friendly distance or coming to take over the world, right? By way of an answer, author Tom Sullivan invites readers to reimagine how the homes or worlds of these aliens could resemble ours. Alien worlds could be filled with the strangest, cutest creatures like ours and intelligent like us on Earth, but diverse and different too. Maybe aliens care about some of the same things we do, are obsessed by technology as we are, and act like us too—with kindness or meanness. Or perhaps they do not. What does become apparent at the story’s end is that we on Earth could be alien or strange to others in turn, for Tom Sullivan has playfully shifted the telescope lens from the aliens in the heavens back onto Earth’s inhabitants.

Sullivan boldly depicts animal, human and alien characters, the planets they inhabit, and the skies and space they gaze into in all shapes, sizes, and colors. He offers a message that perspective, humor and empathy are essential to help understand and navigate between all of them. (Picture Book, Ages 4‑8 years)

Check Availability

A smiling sun holding a #1 foam finger

Sun! One in a Billion
Written by Stacy McAnulty; illustrated by Stevie Lewis

Sun, Sun, Sun, here he comes! He’s been here 4.6 billion years so far, but (the) Sun wants us on Earth to know that he is special and not to be forgotten. Author Stacy McAnulty allows the Sun to talk directly to readers about some of his better and less‑known facts: first, the Sun is a star—a massive and luminous ball of gas; second, the Sun is the most important star for Earth, even though in our Milky Way he is only one star in 100 billion! His sunrays take 8 minutes to reach us, and provide heat, light and the gravity to hold the solar system together. The Sun also rightfully boasts about life revolving around him, as well as his size compared to Earth’s, his hot temperature, his distance from other stars, and how he moves.

Illustrator Stevie Lewis allows the Sun to shine in the spotlight in brilliant color and to win young readers’ interests with playful, exaggerated expressions and impressions. The Sun confides that he’s not the biggest, brightest or oldest, but then lets readers immediately know that even so, he’s still important and that “the planets are attracted to me.” Science is provided via the Sun’s punchy, captivating performance for young readers, and the book treats them to a Q&A and a handy “By the Numbers” section at the book’s end. (Ages 4‑8 years)

Check Availability

A father and daughter observing the moon from a hill top overlooking a town

Papa Put a Man on the Moon
Written by Kristy Dempsey; illustrated by Sarah Green

President John F. Kennedy rallied Americans around the Apollo Space Program by announcing in 1962 that the country would choose to go the moon within the decade. This story comes out of that time and is about a girl’s pride for her father and her village and their small but monumental contribution to the Apollo moon landing. The story begins with young Marthanne and her Papa sitting side by side one night, watching the full moon rise in the night sky. Papa points out the Moon’s Sea of Tranquility, barely visible from Earth, where the Apollo will touch down. But the Moon’s surface is too far to actually touch with her own hand, Marthanne realizes. So instead, she asks her father to boast about his new job at the town’s mill, weaving a special fabric that will be one layer in the Apollo astronauts’ spacesuits. Papa humbly replies that he’s only proud to make a living. As time passes, Marthanne grows impatient, until finally the Apollo mission launches and Marthanne and her family settle down to watch the television news with Walter Cronkite and witness the truly historic moment in their living room.

In the afterword of Papa Put a Man on the Moon, Kristy Dempsey pays tribute to the people who worked in a J.P. Stevens textile mill in Slater, South Carolina, as well as to her father in particular; they produced a special fiber glass fabric for the NASA astronaut space suits invented by a NASA textile expert, Dr. Frederick Dawn. Along with illustrator Sarah Green, Dempsey recreates for us one of the most exciting, awe‑inspiring moments in history for Americans and the world, through the eyes of the ordinary. (Ages 4‑8 years)

Check Availability