The night sky seems to hold a lot of fascination for many kids. There’s something so beautiful about observing the stars and their patterns. One of the many topics my kids and I have covered during our space unit was the stars, with special emphasis on the constellations. Below is my review of 11 children’s books about stars and constellations.
Note: For more space-related activities, see my Space Unit Study page.
Our Stars by Anne Rockwell
This book is a fun introduction to the stars for kids ages 3-7. The information is presented in a very simple way to make it accessible for young children. It explains what a star is, mentions a few constellations, and describes how you can tell the difference between a star and a planet in the night sky (hint: stars twinkle and planets do not). The book talks briefly about how planets orbit around stars and how planets get their light from their stars. The book also explains that “shooting stars” aren’t really stars at all, but are meteors moving through the sky.
The Sky Is Full of Stars by Franklyn M. Branley
This book has a somewhat vintage feel due to its illustrations, which may not be surprising considering the book was first published in the early 1980s. But it is still in publication today because it continues to be a useful and valuable book for helping young children to understand the stars in our sky. Young readers will learn that we see different stars at different times of the year, and that people have seen patterns in the stars that form animals and humans characters. The book goes into some detail on several specific constellations, including Orion, Leo the lion, Lyra, and Cygnus the swan. The book describes the times of year when you can see these constellations, as well as how to find them in the night sky. This book will be most enjoyed by kids ages 4-8.
Spots of Light: A Book About Stars by Dana Meachen Rau
This is a fun book that introduces some of the science behind stars in an age appropriate way for young children. The book discusses the fact that stars give off two kinds of energy, which are heat and light. Young readers will also learn that stars come in different sizes and different colors. The book also provides a very kid-friendly description of the star life cycle. This book will be most enjoyed by kids ages 4-8.
Stargazers by Gail Gibbons
This book is all about looking at the stars – the people who look at them, the tools used to look at them, and why the stars in our sky look different from one season to the next. The book does introduce the Big Dipper and Little Dipper, but not any other constellations. It also discusses the Milky Way galaxy, and provides an explanation for why stars appear to twinkle. This book is most appropriate for kids ages 4-8.
The Big Dipper by Franklyn M. Branley
This book is a wonderful introduction to the stars and constellations if you want to focus only on the Big Dipper and Little Dipper constellations. The book describes how the stars we can see in the sky change during the course of the year. However, the Big Dipper can be seen virtually all year long, even if it faces in one direction during the winter and another direction during the summer. The book describes how to find the Big Dipper and how to use the Big Dipper to locate the Little Dipper. This book is most appropriate for kids ages 3-7.
This is an adorable little information and activity book for kids who are interested in the constellations. This book provides detailed information about a number of constellations, including the Big Dipper, Little Dipper, Leo the lion, Orion, Taurus, and several others. Young readers will learn how ancient peoples – especially the Greeks and Egyptians – identified these constellations and created stories to go along with them. For each of the main constellations discussed in the book, there is an accompanying activity idea. I was particularly intrigued by the paper bag star map activity for Orion and the glow-in-the-dark star map activity for the Big Dipper. This will book will be enjoyed most by kids ages 6 and up.
Glow-in-the-Dark Constellations by C.E. Thompson
The coolest feature of this book are the glow-in-the-dark constellation maps on both the cover and internal pages. The first and last pages of the book include a star map of sorts, with a view of the constellations that are visible during each of the four seasons in both the northern and southern hemispheres. The book also includes tips for going stargazing. But the main structure of the book revolves around presenting a new constellation on each spread. For each constellation, the book provides the story that goes along with the animal or character as well as information about the stars that make up the constellation and how to find them. This book will be enjoyed most by kids ages 6 and up.
Galaxies, Galaxies! by Gail Gibbons
This book is all about galaxies, and makes a great companion book to Gibbons’s book Stargazers reviewed above. In this book young readers will learn about our Milky Way galaxy – its shape, its size, its appearance, the number of stars it contains, and the location of our solar system within the galaxy. The book explains how there are many galaxies other than our own Milky Way, and it describes many of the different shapes that have been observed in various galaxies. She also provides information about how astronomers have studied galaxies, both historically and in the present day.
Zoo in the Sky: A Book of Animal Constellations by Jacqueline Mitton
This book brings the night sky to life by showing young readers how the an entire zoo of animals can be seen at night in the stars. The book tells engaging stories of the great bear who pads her way around the North Pole, the swan who soars from east to west in the summer sky, and the lion king who peers down from his throne in the waning months of winter. Featuring rich illustrations with metallic, shiny stars overlaid to show the constellations, this book will be a delight for any child who loves stories and stars. This book is most likely to be enjoyed by kids ages 5-9.
Once Upon a Starry Night: A Book of Constellations by Jacqueline Mitton
A companion book to Zoo in the Sky reviewed above featuring the same beautiful illustrations and metallic stars. This book focuses on the Greek mythology characters that people throughout history have seen in the night sky. Young children will learn the stories of Cassiopeia, Andromeda, Perseus, Pegasus, Lyra, Hercules, Orion, and more. This book is most likely to be enjoyed by kids ages 5-9.
This is an absolutely beautiful book that will be enjoyed by stargazers ages 8 and up. At more than 90 pages in length, this is not a storybook that a child (or parent) can read in one night. Instead, this book is more of an encyclopedia of the night sky that will be treasured over time. It covers all the major constellations, the star life cycle, how astronomers study stars, what a light year is, what’s special about our sun, and much, much more. On one page that discusses the planets, however, Pluto was still listed as the 9th planet, which hasn’t been true since 2006 (the book was published in 2004).
More resources to learn about the stars and constellations
More posts from Gift of Curiosity about the stars and other objects in our sky:
- Sticker stars and chalk constellations craft
- Phases of the moon activities
- Moon phases printables
- Solar System Montessori 3-Part Cards
- Planets Do-a-Dot Printables