The best children’s books for kids who love space

Kristy Dempsey Author Of Papa Put a Man on the Moon
By Kristy Dempsey

Who am I?

I love reading about space and the dedication and commitment astronauts must have to eventually be placed on a mission. Their courage seems superheroic and legendary. But I also know that it takes ordinary individuals to make space missions happen. My mother grew up in a textile community and many of my maternal relatives worked in a textile mill that produced a fabric used in the Apollo spacesuits. These workers could never have dreamed of working for NASA or becoming astronauts, but their work was integral to the process of putting men on the moon. Any great achievement requires a legion of hardworking hands to see it through to completion. 


I wrote...

Papa Put a Man on the Moon

By Kristy Dempsey, Sarah Green (illustrator),

Book cover of Papa Put a Man on the Moon

What is my book about?

Papa Put a Man on the Moon is a story that grew out of my own family history. My mother grew up in a small textile community that played a key role in the Apollo Space Program. The book highlights the role ordinary workers played in putting a man on the moon. Marthanne narrates the story of her father’s work in accomplishing this mission: The fabric he weaves at the textile mill forms one layer in the astronauts' spacesuits. Marthanne knows his work is part of history, and she can hardly wait for the Apollo astronauts to blast off. When Neil Armstrong finally takes his first steps on the moon, Marthanne watches in wonder. She knows her papa played an important role in putting a man on the moon.

The books I picked & why

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Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon

By Catherine Thimmesh,

Book cover of Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon

Why this book?

As a former teacher and librarian, I adored sharing this extensive book with my students about the national effort to put land men on the moon. From flight directors to factory workers, this non-fiction account with spectacular photos reads like a documentary about the Apollo 11 mission and shares captivating stories about the people who worked behind the scenes. 

Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon

By Catherine Thimmesh,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Team Moon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For Apollo 11, the first moon landing, is a story that belongs to many, not just the few and famous. It belongs to the seamstress who put together twenty-two layers of fabric for each space suit. To the engineers who created a special heat shield to protect the capsule during its fiery reentry. It belongs to the flight directors, camera designers, software experts, suit testers, telescope crew, aerospace technicians, photo developers, engineers, and navigators. Gathering direct quotes from some of these folks who worked behind the scenes, Catherine Thimmesh reveals their very human worries and concerns. Culling NASA transcripts, national…

Moon! Earth's Best Friend

By Stacy McAnulty, Stevie Lewis (illustrator),

Book cover of Moon! Earth's Best Friend

Why this book?

For a laugh-out-loud romp through our corner of the universe, check out this hilarious narrative about Moon’s close friendship with Earth. These two friends will stick close together forever! Full of fun facts and even funnier puns, this autobiography of Earth’s best rock is sure to teach you something new and make you laugh along the way. I especially enjoy non-fiction delivered with a dose of humor, so this is one of my favorite space-related read-alouds.

Moon! Earth's Best Friend

By Stacy McAnulty, Stevie Lewis (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Moon! Earth's Best Friend as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From writer Stacy McAnulty and illustrator Stevie Lewis, Moon! Earth's Best Friend is a light-hearted nonfiction picture book about the formation and history of the moon―told from the perspective of the moon itself.

Meet Moon! She's more than just a rock―she’s Earth’s rock, her best friend she can always count on. Moon never turns her back on her friend (literally: she's always facing Earth with the same side!). These two will stick together forever. With characteristic humor and charm, Stacy McAnulty channels the voice of Moon in this next celestial "autobiography" in the Our Universe series. Rich with kid-friendly facts…


A Computer Called Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Helped Put America on the Moon

By Suzanne Slade, Veronica Miller Jamison (illustrator),

Book cover of A Computer Called Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Helped Put America on the Moon

Why this book?

Books about unknown or unsung heroes draw me in like no other, so I especially enjoyed this picture book about black mathematician Katherine Johnson, who calculated the trajectory of the early space flights of the 1960s. Johnson not only broke civil rights barriers, but also broke through gender expectations to work and excel in a job traditionally held by men.  Her determination and excellence will inspire young readers to consider equality, justice, and the discipline required for achievement, especially in math.

A Computer Called Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Helped Put America on the Moon

By Suzanne Slade, Veronica Miller Jamison (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Computer Called Katherine as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The inspiring story of NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson (the subject of the hit movie Hidden Figures).

Katherine Johnson grew up during a time when women were not encouraged to excel in the fields of math and science, and when African-Americans were heavily discriminated against. But she was so good at math that she zoomed ahead of her elementary school classmates, attended a high school far away from home, and started college at age fourteen, taking difficult geometry classes taught just for her. She went on to become one of NASA's "computers who wore skirts," women who did calculations that helped…


A Kite for Moon

By Jane Yolen (, Heidi E. Y. Stemple, Matt Phelan (illustrator)

Book cover of A Kite for Moon

Why this book?

I expected to have a bit of a hard time suspending my disbelief in this sweet exploration of a boy’s friendship with the moon. But happily, it wasn’t difficult to identify with the boy’s dream of becoming an astronaut and his commitment to fulfilling their friendship with an in-person visit. For the child who looks up at the moon and dreams of being an astronaut, or the child who must face a struggle to reach a different kind of finish line, this book will be a poetic handbook for the journey.

A Kite for Moon

By Jane Yolen (, Heidi E. Y. Stemple, Matt Phelan (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Kite for Moon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Dedicated to astronaut Neil Armstrong, A Kite for Moon is the perfect children's book to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first United States moon landing. Written by New York Times bestselling author of How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? Jane Yolen and her daughter, Heidi Stemple, this book is a heartfelt story about a young boy's fascination and unlikely friendship with the moon.

What would it be like if the moon was your friend? Find out as you walk alongside a little boy who journeys through life to achieve his dream of becoming an astronaut. And then blast off…


You Are the First Kid on Mars

By Patrick O'Brien,

Book cover of You Are the First Kid on Mars

Why this book?

This book was first published in 2009, so you might think it would feel a bit out of date, but it still feels relevant, especially for kids who might be dreaming of space travel and a trip to the Red Planet. The digital images give a photorealistic feel for what it might actually look and feel like to stand on Mars, even as the more technical aspects of the journey are detailed. Given that travel to Mars seems to be a future possibility, this book gives children the chance to experience the journey now with every read.

You Are the First Kid on Mars

By Patrick O'Brien,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked You Are the First Kid on Mars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As we look back to the beginnings of the space race, 2009 is also the year for looking forward to humankind?s next step toward the stars.

In the spirit of books that once imagined colonies on the moon, Patrick O?Brien has created a unique look at your first trip to Mars. Using the most upto- date designs and theories of what it will take to establish a base on Mars, you are off on an incredible journey, over 35 million miles to the red planet. Filled with details, and vividly brought to life, this is an adventure that you are…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the moon, geology, and NASA?

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