I often joke to my husband that studying the universe hurts my brain because it is just so incredible to wrap my head around how utterly vast the universe is. It is slightly easier for me to contemplate our solar system. Although our solar system is still very big, it does seem a bit more knowable than our entire universe. 🙂 In any case, our whole family had a great time to learning about the planets and solar system during our space unit.
Below I review nine children’s books about the planets and our solar system. Among these books are great ways for introducing toddlers to our galaxy as well as more advanced books that will be enjoyed by kids in late elementary school.
Note: For more space-related activities, see my Space Unit Study page.
Children’s books about the planets
Good Night Galaxy by Adam Gamble
This board book is a great way to introduce our galaxy to children ages 2 to 3. It begins with “Good morning, planet Earth” and continues with “Good morning, moon” and “Hello, hot sun.” As children greet each celestial body they will learn one brief fact about each, including the fact that our solar system includes eight planets and the fact that comets are made of ice, dust, and rocks. The book ends with “Good night, starry sky. Thank you for sharing a wonderful day.” Wouldn’t this be a great book to read your little one right before bedtime?
Look Inside Space by Rob Lloyd Jones
I’m not sure who loved this book more – me or my kids! This Usborne book was truly my favorite book that we read during our entire space unit. It was so chock full of wonderful information, and its lift-the-flap interface makes it irresistible to kids (and maybe to adults too!). The book covers information about the moon, the International Space Station, the solar system, galaxies, and fun space questions like “Why do stars twinkle?” and “Does anything live on other planets?” The pages are sturdy, the illustrations are vibrant, and the flaps contain really interesting information. This book will be enjoyed by everyone ages 3 and up.
The Planets in Our Solar System by Franklyn M. Branley
From the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out-Science series, this book provides a lot of information about each planet with funny illustrations that will bring a smile to kids’ faces. One drawback to this book is that it still lists Pluto as one of the nine planets. This is outdated information because Pluto was downgraded to dwarf planet status in 2006, leaving us with only eight official planets in our solar system. The book discusses how the sun is at the center of our solar system, and the planets orbit around the sun. Most of the planets also have one or more moons that orbit around them. The book also talks about asteroids, comets, and meteoroids.
Most books about the planets discuss each planet in turn, going in order from the planet closest to the sun (Mercury) to the planet furthest from the sun (Neptune). This book, on the other hand, takes a different approach. Instead of discussing each planet in turn, this book is organized by characteristics, such as distance (when Mercury and Pluto are mentioned as the closest and furthest planets), temperature (when Neptune and Pluto are highlighted for their cold temperatures and Mercury and Venus are highlighted as the hottest planets), and size (where Earth is mentioned as a mid-size planet in relation to the biggest planet, Jupiter, and the smallest planet, Pluto). This book is most appropriate for kids ages 4-8.
From the Cat in the Hat Learning Library comes this fanciful tale full of fun information about our solar system. In this book the infamous Cat in the Hat and his friends, Thing One and Thing Two, take two children on a trip to space. They visit the eight planets, several constellations, the sun, and the moon. Dr. Seuss fans will particularly enjoy this book, which includes the same whimsical, rhyming text and wacky imagery that has made Dr. Seuss books beloved by millions of children. This book will be enjoyed by kids ages 4-8.
What’s Out There?: A Book about Space by Lynn Wilson
This book covers it all – stars, constellations, planets, the sun, the seasons, the moon phases, moon travel, and more. If it’s in our solar system, it’s in this book. Published in 1993, the book feels a bit dated in that it mentions Pluto, although it does classify it as a dwarf planet. Nonetheless, it is a good introduction to the solar system for kids ages 4-8. The illustrations appear to be made from paper cutouts, which might just inspire your children’s next art project!
The Planets by Gail Gibbons
This is a wonderful book that goes beyond just describing the scientific. This book also discusses historical information about the planets, such as the fact that the planets were named after Greek and Roman gods and goddesses, and people in very early times were only aware of six planets rather than the eight we know of today. The book does, of course, still cover the scientific facts. There is a page dedicated to each of the planets, including one for Pluto which was downgraded from a planet to a dwarf planet in 2006. This book is most appropriate for kids ages 5-8.
National Geographic Kids First Big Book of Space by Catherine D. Hughes
This book is long – definitely not one you will get through in one evening right before bed. But it is also vibrant, visually appealing, and full of great information for young space enthusiasts. Aside from providing the usual details about each planet, the moon, asteroids, etc., this book also mentions many of the NASA spacecrafts currently traveling through space to visit distant bodies in our solar system. The book tells where each spacecraft is going and when it is expected to arrive at its destination in order to send information back. This book will be most enjoyed by kids ages 5-9.
How Many Planets Circle the Sun?: And Other Questions about Our Solar System by Mary Kay Carson
This book is formatted as a series of 15 questions about our solar system. Each question is answered with a photograph or illustration plus a couple of paragraphs of information. Some of the questions answered in this book include “What holds our solar system together?”, “Which planet in our solar system is the hottest?”, “Why are there footprints on the moon?”, and “How did Saturn get its rings?” The level of detail included in the answers make this book most appropriate for kids ages 6-10.
The Magic School Bus Lost In The Solar System by Joanna Cole
This book is part of the popular Magic School Bus science series of books and TV shows. Like the other books in this series, this book follows a class of students and their adventurous teacher Ms. Frizzle as they take a field trip through the solar system and learn about the sun, moon, and various planets. Drawn in a cartoon style with comic book elements (although not a strict comic book), the Magic School Bus books use humor – and a bit of magic! – to deliver great science content to young readers. These books are dense with information, making them most appropriate for elementary age children. However, adults may be able to pick and choose which parts to read so as to make the content accessible to interested preschoolers.
More resources to learn about the planets
More posts from Gift of Curiosity about the planets and solar system:
- How planets orbit the sun
- Make a model solar system
- Planets Do-a-Dot Printables
- Solar System Lacing Cards
- Solar System 3-Part Cards