On Oct. 18, 2019, history is being made. The very first all-female spacewalk is happening. So of course to celebrate this huge (and long overdue) accomplishment, you need to pick up these 16 children's books about space to honor this special and historic day, and to maybe even inspire your daughters and sons to become astronauts.
USA Today reported that there have been 420 spacewalks so far over the past half-century — and they were all men. But on Oct. 18, NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch will be blasting off into space to "replace a battery charge/discharge unit that failed to activate after new lithium-ion batteries were installed on the space station’s exterior structure on Oct. 11," according to the NASA website.
This list is comprised of books about powerful, influential, trailblazing women, as well as general fun books all about astronauts and space. There's something for everyone on this list, and for many ages of kids. Be sure to swing by your favorite bookstore today and read some of these amazing children's books in honor of today's historic mission. Thank you, Jessica Meir and Christina Koch for being part of history today, and to all the other phenomenal women in history who made it possible for them to get there.
1. ‘When I Grow Up: Sally Ride’ by Annmarie Anderson, illustrated by Gerald Kelley
When I Grow Up: Sally Ride is a book for a level three reader, and this "introductory biography" tells young kids the awesomeness that was Sally Ride — the first female astronaut to go to space. She was also a teacher, author, and professor, and an inspiration to young women (and men) who may want to be astronauts one day.
2. ‘Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing’ by Dean Robbins, illustrated by Lucy Knisley
While Margaret Hamilton didn't actually go into outer space, she was a crucial part to getting folks there for missions Apollo 8, Apollo 9, Apollo 10, and Apollo 11. Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing tells Margaret's story, beginning on when she was a child and how she loved numbers and math, which led her to MIT, and how she then helped put an astronaut on the moon. She's a very important woman in the history of space.
3. ‘Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race’ by Margot Lee Shetterly, Winifred Conkling, and illustrated by Laura Freeman
You can't have a list about outer space books without including this excellent and inspiring story. Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race tells the story of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, who were all black women that were extremely good at math. So good, in fact, that their calculations assisted with America's first launches to space.
4. ‘Who Was Sally Ride?’ by Megan Stine, illustrated by Ted Hammond
You also have to have multiple Sally Ride books when talking about American astronauts — especially American women astronauts. Who Was Sally Ride? tells Sally Ride's incredible life story in a picture book for younger children. Not only was she the first American woman to fly in space, but she was also an astrophysicist who helped develop a robotic arm for space shuttles, and through her program, "'Sally Ride Science,' worked to make science cool and accessible for girls," according to the Amazon description.
5. ‘What Miss Mitchell Saw’ by Hayley Barret, illustrated by Diana Sudyksa
Maria Mitchell was the first professional female astronomer, and What Miss Mitchell Saw tells her story starting from when she was a child and would always look through her telescope at the starry night sky. This picture book shows that no matter where you begin, you can become something great.
6. 'Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13' by Helaine Becker, illustrated by Tiemdow Phumiruk
Katherine Johnson, who was one of the women portrayed in Hidden Figures, gets her own story in the picture book, Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13. Mathematician Katherine Johnson helped Apollo 13 get home, all thanks to her amazing math skills. This picture book tells her story beginning with how she was a gifted student who loved to count, all the way to her saving the day.
7. ‘Big Book of Stars and Planets’ by Emily Bone
8. ‘Women in Space: 23 Stories of First Flights, Scientific Missions, and Gravity-Breaking Adventures’ by Karen Bush Gibson
Women in Space: 23 Stories of First Flights, Scientific Missions, and Gravity-Breaking Adventures would be a great book for an older child, maybe 12 and up. It teaches readers about the "challenging journeys undertaken by women from around the world as they worked to become astronauts," according to the Barnes & Noble description. "The 23 individuals profiled include Judith Resnik, mission specialist onboard the Challenger; Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to travel to outer space; Sally Ride, the first American woman in space; and Yi Soyeon, the first South Korean in space, female or male." It's an honor to the women who fought for equality and recognition in a very male-dominated field.
9. ‘Me and My Place in Space’ by Joan Sweeney, illustrated by Christine Gore
If you're looking for a fun and easy way to introduce the vastness of space and our universe with your child, Me and My Place in Space is the perfect book in order to do so in "clear language" and colorful and fun illustrations. Starting with Earth, this book answers questions about all of the planets and our solar system.
10. ‘There’s No Place Like Space: All About Our Solar System’ by Tish Rabe & Dr. Seuss, illustrated by Aristides Ruiz
As a part of The Cat in the Hat's Learning Library series, There’s No Place Like Space: All About Our Solar System is newly revised since poor Pluto is no longer considered an official planet anymore. But follow The Cat in the Hat, Thing One & Thing Two, Dick, and Sally as they go on a grand adventure to learn more about space.
11. ‘Mae Among the Stars’ by Roda Ahmed, illustrated by Stasia Burrington
12. ‘Mousetronaut: Based on a (Partially) True Story’ by Mark Kelly, illustrated by C.F. Payne
Mousetronaut: Based on a (Partially) True Story is based on the space shuttle Endeavor, and astronaut Mark Kelly who flew with “mice-tronauts" — Kelly is also the author of this book. This story follows Meteor the mouse on his mission to outer space and how working hard, no matter how small you are, will have a big outcome.
13. ‘Simon and the Solar System’ by Derek Taylor Lent, illustrated by Mary Gutfleisch
14. 'Astronauts: A Kid’s Guide: To Space, The Stars, Planets, The Solar System, The Moon and Flying Out Of This World' by A.D. Largie, illustrated by Quadrata C.A.
Learn all about space in Astronauts: A Kid’s Guide: To Space, The Stars, Planets, The Solar System, The Moon and Flying Out Of This World, beautifully illustrated picture book that not only teaches kids about space, but also about astronauts and what they do.
15. ‘National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Space’ by Catherine D. Hughes, illustrated by David A. Aguilar
You know National Geographic will have a killer book about space. And National Geographic Little Kids First Big Book of Space definitely does not disappoint. Colorful illustrations and simple text make this the perfect kids' book for them to learn all about our solar system.
16. 'Serena Sees Her Footprints on the Moon' by Sean Reed, illustrated by Sam Beck
Serena Sees Her Footprints on the Moon is an important children's book to have on your shelf. At a time when the only people going into space were white men, Serena can see herself going where no black woman has ever gone before through the power of imagination. This book will inspire all kids of all genders and races to dream big and know there's nothing they can't do.