The best children’s books about the origins of our universe

Marion Dane Bauer Author Of The Stuff of Stars
By Marion Dane Bauer

Who am I?

My expertise on the origins of our universe comes out of fascination, nothing more. I am a long-time children’s writer who began my approach to this topic with awe. Just awe. In order to write The Stuff of Stars I read widely to expand my own understanding. A single line in this text can come out of hours of reading. The books I’m suggesting here, though, are not the scientific ones that informed my telling. Rather, I have searched out books that are exceptionally creative, accessible, interesting. Some are for the very young and some for those who share their learning with the very young.  

I wrote...

The Stuff of Stars

By Marion Dane Bauer, Ekua Holmes (illustrator),

Book cover of The Stuff of Stars

What is my book about?

Before the universe was formed, before time and space existed, there was...nothing. But then...Bang! Stars caught fire and burned so hot that they exploded, flinging stardust everywhere. And the ash of those stars turned into planets. Into our Earth. And into us. In a poetic text, Marion Dane Bauer takes readers from the trillionth of a second when our universe was born to the singularities that became each one of us. Ekua Holmes’ illustrations capture the void before the Big Bang and the ensuing life that burst across galaxies. A seamless blend of science and art, this picture book reveals the composition of our world and beyond — and how we are all the stuff of stars.

The books I picked & why

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First Light, First Life: A Worldwide Creation Story (Worldwide Stories)

By Paul Fleischman, Julie Paschkis (illustrator),

Book cover of First Light, First Life: A Worldwide Creation Story (Worldwide Stories)

Why this book?

This is a picture book with vibrant illustrations that takes on the topic of creation. It does so, however, not from a scientific perspective but from a mythic one. In a cohesive and fascinating narrative, Fleischman weaves together tales from around the world, identifying each to its source. And yet he emerges with a single story, a story that will capture readers of all ages.

How Did It All Start? Where Did We Come From?

By Biku Ghosh,

Book cover of How Did It All Start? Where Did We Come From?

Why this book?

This fascinating book presents science side by side with creation stories drawn from every part of the world. Ghosh’s scientific explanations of the origins of our universe are succinct and clear. He tells us what is known about our beginnings, what is supposed, and what we do not know and may never understand. And he lays out creation stories from many parts of the world along with information about the cultures from which those stories came. How Did It All Start? is perfect for older children or for adults who want to deepen their understanding of both the science and the myths that surround our beginnings.

The Mysteries of the Universe: Discover the Best-Kept Secrets of Space

By Will Gater,

Book cover of The Mysteries of the Universe: Discover the Best-Kept Secrets of Space

Why this book?

The Mysteries of the Universe doesn’t focus on our Earth but rather on what we see when we look out from Earth. It takes on fascinating topics from moonwalking and Martian dust devils to cliffs on a comet and supernovas. A combination of amazing photographs and artists’ depictions accompanying an accessible text will hold even very young readers.  

It Started with a Big Bang: The Origin of Earth, You and Everything Else

By Floor Bal, Sebastiaan Van Doninck (illustrator),

Book cover of It Started with a Big Bang: The Origin of Earth, You and Everything Else

Why this book?

It Started with a Big Bang: The Origin of Earth, You and Everything Else is another picture book that covers the same territory for the very young as The Stuff of Stars. The writing is conversational and accessible. The illustrations are compelling. The two books read side by side would support and inform one another.  

My Name is Stardust

By Bailey Harris, Douglas Harris,

Book cover of My Name is Stardust

Why this book?

What makes the picture book My Name is Stardust intriguing is that it was written by a nine-year-old girl with, apparently, some help from her dad. The text is clear, interesting, sometimes even playful. It is personal, too. When it introduces the dinosaurs, for instance, the author tells us why the brachiosaurus is her favorite. Young readers will be intrigued to know that this book came from another child.

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