What is more inspiring than space?
If you are doing a science theme about space or astronomy and are looking for books for children, don’t forget to include some books of STEM poems.
If You Were the Moon by Laura Purdie Salas and illustrated by Jaime Kim
Combining spare, imaginative text with denser scientific explanations, this book has potential for a multitude of uses. It can be a lovely bedtime book, the basis for a language arts lesson, or a great accompaniment to a lesson on the solar system.
Salas must inspire her illustrators to greatness, because Jaime Kim’s art positively shines.
If You Were the Moon is a must have for budding astronomers and poets everywhere.
Visit Laurie Purdie Salas’s website for downloadable teaching guides (long and short versions) and other goodies.
Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Millbrook Press (March 1, 2017)
Night Wonders by Jane Ann Peddicord won the 2006 International Reading Association Children’s Book Award. It combines poems about space with stunning photographs and artist’s renderings of space. Peddicord also includes some informational text to fill in and emphasize the facts revealed in the poems.
Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Publisher: Charlesbridge (February 1, 2005)
A Rocketful of Space Poems chosen by John Foster and illustrated by Korky Paul is a collection that features poems from the likes of J. Patrick Lewis, Eric Finney, and Judith Nicholls. Many of the poems are not particularly serious, since they feature monsters, witches, magicians and aliens. They allow the reader to “fly into space, drive to the moon, meet an asteroid dog and a flurb blurp, and then play intergalactic Squibble-Ball.” As you can see, the featured poems are highly imaginative but have a science-based foundation underneath.
Age Range: 7 – 10 years
Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children’s Bks (February 15, 2017)
When my son was small, we discovered Blast Off: Poems About Space (I Can Read), compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Melissa Sweet (1995). The book features the poem “Children of the Sun” by Brod Bagert, which starts:
Almost nothing at all.
Venus is bright and near…”
It was a wonderful way to memorize both a poem and the names of the planets. Of course it is slightly out of date because Pluto is no longer a planet, but many of the others in the collection are still ring true and clear.
As of today, the poems from Blast Off are available for reading on the Internet.
Out of This World: Poems and Facts about Space by Amy Sklansky and illustrated by Stacey Schuett (2012) really lives up to its name. The poems are fun, creative and absolutely perfect for kids. For example, in the poem “Zero Gravity” some of the lines are flipped over. How creative!
Each poem is accompanied by a black sidebar labeled “Fact” that explains scientific concepts or fills in the history of events that are mentioned.
You could teach a robust unit on STEM poetry with just Douglas Florian’s fabulous books. Comets, Stars, the Moon, and Mars: Space Poems and Paintings (2007) is probably the one most geared to older children.
Personally, I love Florian’s playful style and fun-filled illustrations. In this book there are cut out circles in some of the pages that move images from one page to another, some playing with changes in scale while doing so. For example, the planet Mercury is a cut out that reveals the much larger Venus on the page behind it.
And Then There Were Eight: Poems about Space (Poetry) (A+ Books: Poetry) by Laura Purdie Salas (2008) is fresh and lively. Salas is devoted to her craft, and presents poems in different forms, and then explains each in the backmatter. This book would work well for a unit on poetry as it does for a unit on space.
Sky Magic (2009) compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Mariusz Stawarski presents the sun, stars and moon from an interesting, earthbound perspective. Hopkins has collected poems from a variety of poets and organized them to flow from sunrise to sunset. A wonderful celebration both the skies and poetry.
The Universe Verse by James Lu Dunbar is for middle grade readers.
Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Publisher: James and Kenneth Publishers; First edition (November 1, 2014)
Although not a collection of poems, the rhyming couplets in Roaring Rockets (Amazing Machines) by Tony Mitton and Ant Parker (2000) are perfect for toddlers and preschoolers.
Are you ready to try science poetry now? Do you have any favorite poetry books about space that aren’t on the list? We’d love to hear about them!
You might also want to try our related lists:
Related activity: Exploring Space Without a Spacesuit.