Picture Books on Space

From the dawn of time, humans have turned their gaze towards the heavens, searching the skies. They have told stories about what the changes in the moon meant. They used the stars to guide their ships, and they wondered what was out there. Today Lori introduces us to a selection of picture books from around the world that help us understand what’s out past Earth’s atmosphere

by Lori

From December-February my girls learned about space at their Montessori pre-school. My oldest was very interested, giving us a report about what she had learned when she arrived home each day. She also started asking for books about space. Luckily there is no shortage of books about space for kids. In fact, I found there were three translated books about space being published this spring alone, written by authors from around the world. Pair them with two translated backlist titles, and you have enough to delight you for a while.

Title: The Sky is Not the Limit
Written and illustrated by: Jérémie Decalf
Translated by: Jérémie Decalf
Translated from: French [USA]
Published by: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (March 2023)

Told from the point of view of the Voyager spacecraft, The Sky is Not the Limit catapults readers from Earth, past the furthest reaches of our solar system, and into interstellar space. Readers zoom past Jupiter’s Great Red Dot, Saturn’s rings, and blue planets Uranus and Neptune. The Golden Record, which adorns both Voyager crafts and contains pictures, speech, and music from Earth, is shown, encouraging readers to think about life on other planets.  The simple, poetic text inspired my girls to ask questions and make connections to what they learned about space in school. They were not bogged down with facts and figures; their imaginations were left to soar. The realistic illustrations, with plenty of nearly blank black space left us all pondering the age-old question: “What is really out there?” 

Title: Landscapes of the Solar System
Written and illustrated by: Aina Bestard
Translated by: Matthew Clarke
Translated from: Spanish [Spain]
Published by: Tra Publishing (March 2023)

Landscapes of the Solar System, the newest in a series of illustrated nonfiction books by Spanish artist Aina Bestard, is like holding a museum in your hands. Alongside art inspired by 19th century illustrations, the nonfiction text takes readers on a journey around the solar system from Mercury to Uranus, the asteroid belt to the dwarf planets. Foldout and translucent pages add depth to this already mind-bending topic. Exploding with information, not only facts and figures about the planets, but about phenomena that occur around the solar system, Landscapes of the Solar System is of interest to adults and children alike. My 6 year old and I sometimes sit with it, flipping through the pages until something piques our interest. Then we read, jumping around and learning together.

Title: The Moon Tonight: Our Moon’s Journey Around Earth
Written by: Jung Chang-hoon
Illustrated by: Jang Ho
Translated by: Paige Morris
Translated from: Korean [South Korea]
Published by: Blue Dot Kids Press (January 2023)

Children are often fascinated by the moon. It changes shape, size, and location daily, but why? The Moon Tonight: Our Moon’s Journey Around Earth, is a nonfiction text that does more than just describe the phases of the moon and the science behind them. Each type of moon is described, paired with diagrams, and placed alongside dreamy illustrations of night time scenes, taking this nonfiction text to the next level. After learning about each type of moon, an activity you can do at home to explore the moon’s phases is suggested and a few common questions are answered, including one about how the moon controls the ocean’s tides. The information is presented in a conversational way, making it easily accessible to young children. The book makes us want to go outside to see what kind of moon is rising above us each night.

Title: Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon
Written and illustrated by: Torben Kuhlmann
Translated by: David Henry Wilson
Translated from: German [Germany]
Published by: NorthSouth Books in 2016

What if a mouse was really the first living thing to step on the moon? That’s what Kuhlmann imagines in his picture book, chapter book crossover, Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon. Part of a series about scientific mice who lead humans to important discoveries, Armstrong infuses fact with fiction, capturing the imagination. In this case, Armstrong the mouse is always steps ahead of the humans who are puzzling over how to travel to the moon. When he is found out, he is already on his way into orbit with the humans close behind.  The narrative is elevated by the stunning, realistic illustrations, also done by Kuhlmann. Using panels and full page spreads for the illustrations, he takes the reader along on Armstrong’s journey, which is both informative and captivating.  If you’re looking to draw your youngsters (or yourself) into a study about space, this book is a great place to start.

Title: What’s Hidden In the Sky?: Animal Constellations Around the World
Written and illustrated by: Aina Bestard
Translated by: Annie Crawford
Translated from: Spanish [Spain]
Published by: Tra Publishing in 2021

I first sat down with What’s Hidden in the Sky: Animal Constellations Around the World  alongside my then 5 year-old at bedtime one evening. From the beginning we were mesmerized.  On each monochromatic spread you are transported to a bedroom in a different country, and are invited to solve a riddle before opening the window to discover a constellation the occupant of the room would see on a specific night of the year. When you shine a light through the back of the window, the animal represented by the riddle appears as if by magic. The rhyming riddles are just right for preschool – elementary aged kids who will delight in checking to see if they are right. I’ve read this to my kids at home, as well as multiple classes where I teach. Between the riddles, the flaps, and the light element, it has been a hit every time.

These books were either borrowed from our local library or sent to me by the publishers over the past few years for review. All opinions are my own.


About Lori:

My name is Lori. My family and I live in New Jersey in the United States. My husband and I have two daughters, 5 years old and 3 years old, and two 11 year old cats named Kalina and Tiger.  My husband is an immunologist who has worked on treatments for leukemia and sickle cell disease. Growing up I wanted to become a teacher, but it wasn’t until college that I decided to become a special education teacher, which is what I have been doing now for 17 years. I love finding new ways to reach and teach kids. Besides reading (mostly picture books), I love to cook for my family. I hate ketchup, but love all other tomato based products. We all love to garden, but this year the neighborhood bunnies have been reaping most of the rewards of that endeavor. Find more of my book posts on this blog and at Kids Read the World.