This year on July 20, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 lunar landing, changing the way we view the world forever. It is the story of thousands of scientists, engineers, craftsmen, and astronauts who did the unthinkable and made travel in outer space possible. There is perhaps no group of people more taken with the magic of landing on the moon than children, and to honor and cultivate that curiosity and wonder, I've compiled a list of picture books about the lunar landing that are both beautiful and engaging.
With the history of the space race gaining popularity in the last few years thanks to the runaway success of Hidden Figures, it's no surprise that a slew of books about the lunar landing have been released in anticipation of the anniversary. Just when we all thought NASA was dead, to be replaced by Elon Musk's ego, it comes roaring back from the brink. The books are stunning and range from what is basically a graphic novel to a Little Golden Book about the lunar landing, complete with brushed watercolor images of Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong. There is definitely something for everyone on this list.
1. 'Hello World, Moon Landing' By Jill McDonald
This is a board book perfect for toddlers and very young kids. It will take a beating, and survive its inevitable popularity. Because there's no better way to learn about the lunar landing than by chewing on it? Either way, the paper-cut artwork is bold and dynamic, and the facts are easily digestible for little minds.
2. 'To the Moon and Back' by Buzz Aldrin (and others)
A pop-up book about the lunar landing written by the astronaut who was a part of it. Experience his first-hand account of what he called the "magnificent desolation" of the surface of the moon in spectacular paper folds and pop-ups.
3. 'Go for the Moon: A Rocket, a Boy, and the First Moon Landing' by Chris Gall
This adorable picture book features a child narrator telling the reader all about the preparations that happened in the lead up to the lunar landing in 1969. Because it's told in a child's voice, this book is uniquely approachable for children, encouraging them to ask questions and interact with the story.
4. 'My Out Of This World Story Book Celebrating The 50th Anniversary Moon Landing' by Jan Teacher
I love this book idea for older kids. This is a picture book to inspire children to write their own picture books, providing prompts for each story. This is such an amazing idea for an activity during the summer when kids tend to lose some of the skills they worked so hard to gain over the course of the school year.
5. 'Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon' by Catherine Thimmesh
I love this book because it highlights how the everyday NASA worker on the project was responsible for the successful launch and landing, from the seamstresses to the custodians who clean the bays. Everyday heroes doing their job, getting it done.
6. 'My Little Golden Book About the First Moon Landing' by Charles Lovitt
Little Golden Books are 100 percent classic. This is a sweet version of the lunar landing story with quaint illustrations and an easily affordable price point.
7. 'Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11' by Brian Floca
I am more than a little in love with this book that uses diagrams in conjunction with traditional picture book storytelling. This book will develop the hearts and minds of future science and space nerds, and for that reason alone it's worth the purchase. The illustrations are whimsical and fun, and it reads almost like poetry.
8. 'Margaret and The Moon' by Dean Robbins
This is the illustrated story of Margaret Hamilton, one of the women who hand-wrote codes to help NASA get the men on the moon. Without her codes, Apollos 9, 10, and 11 wouldn't have happened. The astronauts were all men, but many of the best mathematicians were women.
9. 'T-Minus: The Race to the Moon' by Jim Ottaviani
This is the coolest graphic novel for kids I've seen in a long time. It's bold and dynamic. The combination of black and white and color art, along with the rapid fire pace of the retelling of Apollo 11, is something to be seen.
10. 'Moon's First Friends: One Giant Leap for Friendship' by Susanna Leonard Hill
This is a story for young readers. It anthropomorphizes the moon, making her a character in the tale of the lunar landing. It's remarkably sweet, and kids ages 2 to 5 will love it.