There are so many fascinating aspects of space travel that children seem to be drawn to. For some kids, it is the thought of being weightless in space and having to navigate zero gravity that captures their imagination. Other children might be more interested in spaceships and space travel. Whatever it is that captures a child’s imagination, these 14 children’s books about astronauts and space travel are sure to have something to delight.
There is some overlap between this list children’s books about astronauts and space travel and my list of children’s books about the moon, and you may want to check out both lists for books that your child will enjoy.
Note: For more space-related activities, see my Space Unit Study page.
Non-fiction books about astronauts and space travel
Floating in Space by Franklyn M. Branley
This book begins by asking kids to jump as high as they can – which of course isn’t really very high as long as they are on Earth. The book then explains that if they were on the moon, they could jump much higher because the gravity is weaker. And on a space shuttle, where there is virtually no gravity, they could jump so high their head would hit the ceiling! The book then explains all the things that are made difficult by the lack of gravity, including eating, sleeping, and going to the bathroom. It also explains how astronauts must exercise everyday to keep their muscles strong, because it doesn’t require as much strength to move in space as it does on Earth. The book also describes how astronauts get taller in the zero gravity environment of space and then shrink again when they get back to Earth. This is a great book for kids ages 4-8 who are fascinated by life in space.
Astronaut Living in Space by Kate Hayden
This book is all about a fictional astronaut named Linda, who grew up wanting to be an astronaut. Out of hundreds of thousands of applicants, she was one of six who was accepted for the job of astronaut. After getting the job, she spent 18 months in training, learning to live in a weightless environment and repair telescopes in space. Finally, we get to follow Linda on a mission to space. We learn how she eats in space, bathes in space, exercises in space, and sleeps in space. We also get to read about Linda’s work repairing a broken telescope. This book will be most enjoyed by kids ages 5-8.
The International Space Station by Franklyn M. Branley
The main work currently being done by astronauts in space is primarily being done aboard the International Space Station. This book will give young readers a wonderful introduction to the construction of the station, its many parts, some of the work being done on the station, and life on board the station for astronauts. This book was unique in its focus on the ISS, and will be most enjoyed by kids ages 5-9.
The Best Book of Spaceships by Ian Graham
This book is all about different types of spaceships, rockets, and other crafts that have been used for space travel. Young readers will learn about the Apollo spacecraft which landed a man on the moon, the space shuttle that carries large equipment into orbit, space suits which make it possible for astronauts to survive in space, different kinds of satellites that float in space, and the international space station. This book will appeal most to kids ages 5-8.
One Giant Leap: The Story of Neil Armstrong by Don Brown
This book is a biography of Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon. We meet about Armstrong as a young boy with an interest in planes. Eventually, Armstrong begins flying lessons, earning his student pilot license on his 16th birthday. He later joined the navy, and eventually became an astronaut. Young readers will read how he and two other astronauts flew to the moon, landed safely, and gathered moon rocks. This is a wonderful biography to share with kids ages 5-8. It may just inspire some of them to launch their own careers as astronauts!
Eight Days Gone by Linda McReynolds
This book documents the Apollo 11 journey from Earth to the moon and back with snappy rhymes and kid-friendly illustrations. The text is limited, so it lacks details about the mission. However, it is a great introduction to early space travel and the Apollo 11 mission that would be great for for children ages 3 to 6.
The First Moon Landing by Elizabeth Hudson-Goff and Dale Anderson
This book tells the story of the first moon landing in comic book format. Unlike many other books about the moon landing, this book also discusses the geopolitics between the USSR and United States as well as some of the early Apollo missions leading up to the moon landing. But the bulk of the story has to do with the Apollo 11 mission that saw Americans Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin be the first humans to set foot on the surface of the moon. This book will be most appreciated by kids ages 8 and up. However, my 5-year-olds asked me to read this book over and over (although some of the geopolitics admittedly went over their heads).
Spacebusters: The Race to the Moon by Philip Wilkinson
This book tells the thrilling story of the Apollo 11’s journey to the moon. It features mostly real photographs of the mission coupled with a few illustrations to explain how Neil Armstrong, Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, and Michael Collins traveled to the moon and back. This book does a good job of portraying some of the anxiety of the trip, such as the difficulty Armstrong encountered when trying to land the lunar module on the surface of the moon, and the fears faced by all three astronauts that Armstrong and Aldrin would not be able to leave the moon and return to earth with Collins. At the same time, the story also helps the reader understand just how much fun Armstrong and Aldrin had getting to explore the moon. This book is geared toward kids ages 7 to 9 who are independent readers, although slightly younger kids may enjoy the story as well if an adult shares it with them.
Fiction books about astronauts and space travel
I Want to Be an Astronaut by Byron Barton
This book will appeal to any child who, like the protagonist, has ever dreamed of being an astronaut, joining a crew, flying on a shuttle, eating space space food, sleeping in zero gravity, and walking around in space. This book, with its simple text and bold illustrations, is most appropriate for kids ages 2-5.
Roaring Rockets by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker
This book is part of the Amazing Machines series from the author/illustrator duo of Mitton and Parker. The book features rhyming text, fun illustrations, and a picture dictionary to build children’s space related vocabulary. This book will be enjoyed most by kids ages 3-5.
Astronaut Handbook by Meghan McCarthy
Readers of this book will be taken to astronaut school, where they will learn everything they need to know to become an astronaut and prepare for their first mission. Readers will decide what kind of astronaut they want to be, learn what subjects they will study, and go through survival training to prepare for harsh living conditions. Readers will then learn how to get around in zero gravity on the Vomit Comet. They will also select the food they will eat while in space and learn how to use a space toilet. Finally, readers will blast off on their mission. This book will be enjoyed most by kids ages 3-8.
Mousetronaut: Based on a (Partially) True Story by Mark Kelly
This work of fiction was inspired by a real mouse who flew on board the space shuttle Endeavour with author (and astronaut) Mark Kelly. This hero of this story is Meteor, a mouse smaller than the rest who seems to have an affinity for space flight. While the weightless environment of space causes all the other mice to cling to their cage in terror, Meteor seems to enjoy the feeling of weightlessness. When the astronauts notice this, they call him a “mousetronaut.” Meteor is taken from his cage and given the opportunity to look around the space ship. When an astronaut accidentally drops an important key in a tight spot, Meteor comes to the rescue by fishing out the key, saving the mission. This book will be enjoyed most by kids ages 4-8.
If You Decide To Go To The Moon by Faith McNulty
Although this book is a work of fiction, there are many truthful elements to the story that will help children better understand what space travel is like for an astronaut. The story follows a young boy who decides to go to the moon. He travels there by rocket ship, and the details about his journey are rich with facts about moon travel, such as how long it takes to get there, what other objects you might encounter on the way, and what it is like to be weightless. The boy eventually lands on the moon and enjoys a spacewalk. He experiences walking in less gravity than on Earth and the eerie quiet of the moon. After visiting the astronauts’ camp and planting a flag, he returns to Earth with deeper appreciation of the importance of protecting our home planet. This book is best suited for kids ages 4-8.
If I Were an Astronaut by Eric Braun
If I were an astronaut. . . I would do many, many things! This book, which will most appeal to kids ages 3-7, tells kids about all the things they would do if they were an astronaut. Those things include docking with the international space station, working on a team with other astronauts and scientists, fixing sections of the space station, and doing cool science experiments.
More resources for learning about space
More space-related posts from Gift of Curiosity:
- Space Printables Pack
- How do astronauts eat in space?
- DIY astronaut glove box
- Astronaut Do-a-Dot Printables
- Montessori phases of the moon activities
- How did the moon get its craters?
- Recording the Earth’s rotation with shadows
- How planets orbit the sun
- Constellation craft for kids
- Solar system 3-part cards