Children’s Books about Planets and the Solar System

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If you are doing a science theme about planets or the solar system and are looking for books for children, you’ve come to the right place. (Note:  Linked titles go to Amazon for more information. Please see the disclaimer below).

The titles are organized by genre and reading level.

planet-books-button

You might also be interested in our list of space and astronomy poetry books for kids and our list of children’s books about stars and galaxies.

 

Nonfiction

Beginning Readers- Informational Texts

space

Space (Smithsonian Little Explorer) by Martha E. H. Rustad is a quick introduction to topics ranging from the moon and planets to the Big Bang. Colorful photographs and eye-catching illustrations help keep interest and put things in perspective. See how many Earths placed on top of each other would equal the height of the sun. Fascinating!

Reading Level grades 1-2
Publisher: Capstone Press (November 1, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1476535515
ISBN-13: 978-1476535517

comets

Comets (Heinemann First Library: the Night Sky and Other Amazing Sights in Space) by Nick Hunter explains how these bits of dust and ice orbit the sun in our solar system. Starting with ancient records of comets, Hunter describes some of the most famous comets and how they were discovered, He concludes with an activity using balls and a playing field to help children conceptualize the vastness of space.

Reading Level:  Grades 1-3
Publisher: Heinemann (August 1, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1432975196
ISBN-13: 978-1432975197

show-me-space
Show Me Space: My First Picture Encyclopedia (My First Picture Encyclopedias) by Steve Kortenkamp is a visually-stimulating way to learn about our sun, the planets, moons and even far away galaxies.

Reading level: 1-2
Ages 4-8
Series: My First Picture Encyclopedias
Publisher: Capstone Press (February 1, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1620659220
ISBN-13: 978-1620659229

 

eclipses

Eclipses (Heinemann First Library: The Night Sky: And Other Amazing Sights in Space) by Nick Hunter (Author) examines both solar and lunar eclipses, as well as eclipses on other planets. The book covers what an eclipse is, what eclipses can look like, how they happen, what people thought of eclipses in the past, and how they are studied today. He concludes with an activity, along with advice on viewing eclipses.

Reading Level:  Grades 1-3
Publisher: Heinemann (August 1, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1432975153
ISBN-13: 978-1432975159

Northen Lights

Northern Lights (Heinemann First Library) by Nick Hunter covers some of the coolest phenomena we can see without a telescope: the Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights.  He explains what they are, what they look like, where they can be seen, and how they are caused. Readers also learn about the significance of solar storms, the Southern Lights, what people thought about auroras in the past, and how they are explored today. As with the others in this series, he concludes with a fun activity.

Reading level:  Grades 1-3
Publisher: Heinemann (August 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1432975161
ISBN-13: 978-1432975166

 

Picture Books

 

Saturn Could Sail (Did You Know?) by Laura Lyn DiSiena and Hannah Eliot, with illustrations by Pete Oswald and Aaron Spurgeon

Do you know what the title Saturn Could Sail refers to? It turns out Saturn is less dense than water and could float in it if one could find a container of water large enough. Given our experience has mostly been with our own rocky planet, which is much denser than water, the fact a something as huge as a planet could float is very surprising to think about.

This books is full of the kind of thought-provoking facts that a certain type of child is going to soak up like a sponge and then bring up every chance he or she gets, usually prefaced with the words, “Did you know…?”

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: Little Simon (December 16, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1481414283
ISBN-13: 978-1481414289
meteorite-to-museum

How the Meteorite Got to the Museum by Jessie Hartland

In her usual lightly humorous style Hartland reveals how a piece of the Peekskill meteorite ended up on display at the American Museum of Natural History. This book is the third in a series in which Hartland uses a cumulative story technique borrowed from “The House that Jack Built.” Here she explains where the meteorite came from, who saw it, and what the owner of the car did when she discovered the damage, etc.

Reviewed at Wrapped in Foil

Age Range: 6 – 9 years
Grade Level: 1 – 4
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Blue Apple Books (October 8, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1609052528
ISBN-13: 978-1609052522

Destined for Space: Our Story of Exploration (Smithsonian) by Don Nardo

Don Nardo is foremost a historian and he brings a historical perspective to the human exploration of space. Starting with the observations of the earliest humans, he gives a fast-paced overview of what we have learned and accomplished in our quest to figure out, “What’s out there?”

Ages: 7-11
Publisher: Capstone Press (January 1, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1429680245
ISBN-13: 978-1429680240

 

 Pluto’s Secret: An Icy World’s Tale of Discovery by Margaret Weitekamp and David DeVorkin, illustrated by Diane Kidd

With the the change in 2006 from having nine planets in the solar system to only eight, children may be wondering what happened to Pluto. Why isn’t it a planet any longer?  Pluto’s Secret: An Icy World’s Tale of Discovery by Margaret Weitekamp, with David DeVorkin, and illustrated by Diane Kidd uses a whimsical approach to explain the discovery of Pluto, its history and how scientific classifications change as we uncover more information about the world around us.

Reviewed at Growing with Science

Age Range: 5 – 9 years
Grade Level: Kindergarten – 4
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (March 12, 2013)
ISBN-10: 1419704230
ISBN-13: 978-1419704239

 

13 Planets: The Latest View of the Solar System by David A. Aguilar

Explains the most recent view (2011) of the planets in our solar system, with eight planets in the classical sense and five dwarf planets.

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books (March 8, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1426307705
ISBN-13: 978-1426307706

 

National Geographic Kids First Big Book of Space by Catherine D. Hughes and illustrated by David A. Aguilar

At 128 pages, this is a big book! Even though it exceeds the usual length, let’s keep it in the picture book section because of the fabulous illustrations and the reading age level.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books (October 9, 2012)
ISBN-10: 1426310145
ISBN-13: 978-1426310140

 

Picture books About the Lunar Landing:

Footprints on the Moon by Alexandra Siy

Illustrated with stunning photographs, this book documents the human quest to walk on the moon. It covers both history, starting with Galileo and Robert Goddard, and takes the reader through the Apollo missions.

Age Range: 3 – 7 years
Publisher: Charlesbridge (February 1, 2001)
ISBN-10: 1570914095
ISBN-13: 978-1570914096

 

Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca is an extraordinary book. You can tell the minute you open it and see the front endpapers, which have exquisite, detailed illustrations of Apollo 11.

The story itself begins with a well-grounded view of the moon from the earth. Simple, poetic words start you on your journey, a journey like no other. The first trip to the moon.

Following the astronauts as they get ready, you hear the clicks of their equipment as the pieces snap into place. Before long the earth is shaking, as the rocket takes off. The pace, the number of words and the energy all accelerate as the Eagle is about to land. Wow!

Age Range: 4 – 10 years
Series: Richard Jackson Books (Atheneum Hardcover)
Publisher: Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books (April 7, 2009)
ISBN-10: 141695046X
ISBN-13: 978-1416950462

 

One Giant Leap by Robert Burleigh and illustrated by Mike Wimmer

In yet another book to commemorate the 40th anniversary lunar landing, One Giant Leap gives a lyrical, imaginative description of the landing itself.

Age Range: 6 – 8 years
Publisher: Philomel (April 2, 2009)
ISBN-10: 0399238832
ISBN-13: 978-0399238833

 

Look to the Stars by Buzz Aldrin and illustrated by Wendell Minor is remarkable because it is much more than merely an account by the second human being to touch the surface of the moon. Dr. Aldrin shows us how this incredible accomplishment is part of a long history of discoveries and advancements, and how it may lead to many more new things in the future.

Full review at Wrapped in Foil

Age Range: 6 – 8 years
Grade Level: 1 – 3
Hardcover: 40 pages
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (May 14, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0399247211
ISBN-13: 978-0399247217

Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2 has a whole series of titles about space and space exploration:

The International Space Station (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2)
 by Franklyn M. Branley and illustrated by True Kelley

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: HarperCollins (September 19, 2000)
ISBN-10: 0064452093
ISBN-13: 978-0064452090

 

 

The Moon Seems to Change (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2)
 by Franklyn M. Branley and illustrated by Barbara & Ed Emberley

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: HarperCollins; Revised edition (July 24, 1987)
ISBN-10: 0064450651
ISBN-13: 978-0064450652

 

What the Moon is Like (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science, Stage 2) by Franklyn M. Branley and illustrated by True Kelley

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: HarperCollins; Ill edition (May 3, 2000)
ISBN-10: 0064451852
ISBN-13: 978-0064451857

 

Mission to Mars (Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2)
by Franklyn M. Branley and illustrated by True Kelley

Explores the premise that someday people may visit, and even live on, Mars.

Age Range: 4 – 8 years
Publisher: HarperCollins (September 3, 2002)
ISBN-10: 0064452336
ISBN-13: 978-0064452335

 

Middle Grade

 

The Mighty Mars Rovers: The Incredible Adventures of Spirit and Opportunity (Scientists in the Field Series) by Elizabeth Rusch

As with other in the excellent Scientists in the Field series, The Mighty Mars Rovers focuses on the work of Steven Squyres, professor of astronomy at Cornell University and lead scientist on the mission.

Age Range: 10 and up
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers (June 19, 2012)
ISBN-10: 054747881X
ISBN-13: 978-0547478814

 

Cars on Mars: Roving the Red Planet by Alexandra Siy

Follow the twin rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, as they explore Mars. Learn how scientists determined that there was once water on Mars and how the NASA team resolved problems with the rovers from afar in order to prolong the mission.

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Publisher: Charlesbridge; New edition (July 1, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1570914621
ISBN-13: 978-1570914621

 

Planet Hunter: Geoff Marcy and the Search for Other Earths
by Vicki Oransky Wittenstein

Have you ever wanted to visit the laboratory of a ground-breaking research scientist? Now you can, because Planet Hunter: Geoff Marcy and the Search for Other Earths by Vicki Oransky Wittenstein will allow you to feel like you are standing right next to Dr. Geoff Marcy in his quest to find extrasolar planets (planets that revolve around stars other than our sun).

Full review at Wrapped in Foil

Related activities at Growing with Science

Age Range: 10 – 14 years
Publisher: Boyds Mills Press (March 1, 2010)
ISBN-10: 1590785924
ISBN-13: 978-1590785928

 

Is There Life on Other Planets?: And Other Questions About Space (Is That a Fact?)
by Gregory L. Vogt and illustrated by Colin W. Thompson

Another in the Is That a Fact? series, this one investigates some silly myths as well as serious, such as, “Is the moon made of green cheese? and “Do astronauts wear diapers?”

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Library Binding: 40 pages
Publisher: Lerner Publications (March 2010)
ISBN-10: 0822590824
ISBN-13: 978-0822590828

Spacecraft (Machines Close-Up) by Daniel Gilpin and illustrated by Alex Pang

Full color cut-away illustrations show the ins and outs of space vehicles past, present and future.

Reading level: Ages 9-12
Publisher: Benchmark Books; 1 edition (September 2010)
ISBN-10: 1608701123
ISBN-13: 978-1608701124

 

 

Young Adult

Earthrise: My Adventures as an Apollo 14 Astronaut by Edgar Mitchell, Ellen Mahoney, and with a foreword by Dr. Brian Cox

Fast-paced autobiography of Dr. Edgar Mitchell, who went to the moon in 1971 on Apollo 14. Although obviously a must-have resource for future astronauts, Earthrise is also likely to appeal to those interested in history, science, engineering, and aviation. It is a revealing look at how one man’s sense of adventure took him places that the rest of us can only imagine.

Full review at Growing with Science.

Age Range: 12 and up
Publisher: Chicago Review Press (April 1, 2014)
ISBN-10: 1613749015
ISBN-13: 978-1613749012

 

Fiction

 

You Are the First Kid on Mars by Patrick O’Brien

Illustrator/author O’Brien takes the reader on an imaginary trip to a colony on Mars in the future. Scientific details and photorealistic illustrations, as well as second person narration, draw the reader into the story. It is not 100% accurate, but is a 100% thrilling ride.

Age Range: 5 and up
Grade Level: Kindergarten and up
Hardcover: 32 pages
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile (May 14, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0399246347
ISBN-13: 978-0399246340

 

Related activity: Exploring Space Without a Spacesuit.

Disclaimer: Just so you know, I am an affiliate with Amazon. If you make a purchase after clicking on one of the title links, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you, the proceeds of which will help pay for maintaining this website.


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