Moon and Space Books

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I’ve long been fascinated with space; staring up at the twinkling lights above imagining being one of the first people to see them and thinking up stories to explain how they got there, or pondering if there’s anything else alive out there. If I weren’t so darn claustrophobic, I’d be saving up my pennies for one of those tourist trips on a rocket ship so I could voyage into the great unknown and see the stars and planets and swirling, multi-colored universes.

Earlier this year I read a book that shaped much of the rest of my reading for the year, a book I gushed about, foisted on both of my book clubs, and mulled over during many empty moments. And it was all about space!

Fifty years ago the world was in turmoil (sound familiar?) The president saw a need for something to bring the country together, to put a temporary halt to the violence and chaos that were dividing the country, to give us something to work on and root for together. (Yeah, that part doesn’t sound too familiar right now, darnit.) So, he made a bold proclamation that America would be the first to reach the moon. And we were off.

Enter Rocket Men, by Robert Kurson. He starts with a brief re-cap of the tumultuous events around the country and world in 1968, Kennedy’s announcement and the ensuing space race. And then he takes time to introduce us to each of the three men who would make history by venturing to the moon. We get a great glimpse into the lives of the three key players of the Apollo 8 mission (Frank Borman, James Lovell, and Bill Anders), their backgrounds, training, and everything that brought them to be in the right place at the right time. We also get to watch the fledgling organization known as NASA navigate wholly uncharted waters. We cheer along with the rest of humanity (in retrospect) as the men loop around to the dark side of the moon and emerge safely on the other side. And we feel just a little more hopeful about the world and humanity as we view the famous earthrise photo, our first glimpse of the sphere of green and blue that supports life as we know it.

This is the ultimate mix of history, biography, adventure, exploration, and the celebration of the human spirit. I was wowed and amazed at nearly every page. The hubs and I read this one out loud to each other and constantly paused to exclaim over the gall of the people involved. We were amazed over and over again at passages that talked about engineers and mathematicians who had a strictly pen and paper proof of something convince the astronauts to climb into overgrown tin cans and launch themselves into the final frontier where literally no man had gone before, with only mathematical equations to guarantee that they would survive and return safely. And the astronauts’ courage to risk their lives to do it.

If you need a little bit more hope in your lives, I cannot recommend this book enough. And if you love this one as much as I do here are a few others to keep you reading!

Moon and Space Booklist

Fiction Picture Books

Moon by Britta Teckentrup

Mousetronaut by Mark Kelly

The Stuff of Stars by Marion Dane Bauer

Astronaut Annie by Suzanne Slade (see my review here)

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom I’m Off to the Moon by Dan Yaccarino

Mars Needs Moms by Berkeley Breathed

Non-Fiction Books for Kids

The Moon Book by Gail Gibbons

The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield

Reaching for the Moon by Buzz Aldrin

A is for Astronaut by Clayton Anderson

A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars by Seth Fishman (see my review here)

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code by  Laurie Wallmark

Margaret and the Moon by Dean Robbins

Moonshot by Brian Floca

Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover by Markus Motum

I Am Neil Armstrong by Brad Meltzer

Earthrise by James Gladstone

One Giant Leap by Robert Burleigh

The Moon by Seymour Simon

Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed

If You Decide to Go to the Moon by Faith McNulty

Non-Fiction Books for Teens and Adults

First Man by James R. Hansen

Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly (MG and Picture book versions also available)

Packing for Mars by Mary Roach

Rise of the Rocket Girls by Nathalia Holt

Cosmos by Carl Sagan

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking

Death by Black Hole by Neil DeGrasse Tyson

Women in Space by Karen Bush Gibson

Fiction Books for Teens and Adults

The Martian by Andy Wier

Space Case by Stuart Gibbs

See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

35 Bedtime Stories for Kids

Bedtime Books

 

As we come to the close of this Labor Day weekend we come to the unofficial end of summer. Days get shorter, leaves start turning and we all reluctantly go back to a more scheduled and routine lifestyle. I’d like to hope that bedtime stories are a part of the routine during all seasons of the year but even my own bedtime reading routine suffers when it’s warm and light outside. So, as you’re transitioning back into those routines be sure to squeeze in a few minutes one on one with the littles in your life to talk about the good and the bad things that happened during their day and read together even if it’s just one page or poem before turning out the lights. This one habit will transform your relationship and their reading skills, I guarantee it.

And while you can absolutely read any book at all during this time, there are more than a few that are tailor made for sending the reader off to dreamland in style. Here are just a few of my favorites:

In a Blue Room by Jim Averbeck

A Different Pond by Phi Bao*

Bedtime for Bear by Bonny Becker

Something Extraordinary by Ben Clanton

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas*

The Storm Whale by Benji Davies

Windows by Julia Denos*

Llama, Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

The Night Gardener by Terry Fan*

Time for Bed by Mem Fox

Hush Little Baby by Marla Frazee

Night Lights by Susan Gal

Goodnight Everyone by Chris Haughton

Kiss Goodnight by Amy Hest

Hush! A Thai Lullaby by Minfong Ho*

Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban

Forever or a Day by Sarah Jacoby*

One Minute Till Bedtime by Kenn Nesbitt*

Babushka’s Doll by Patricia Polacco*

Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site  by Sherri Duskey Rinker

Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan

The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson

The Quiet Book by Deborah Underwood

Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson

Have an older reader? Don’t underestimate the power of picture books, especially those above with an * by them which indicates a little more depth in the text and/or illustrations. Or read a few pages (or a whole chapter) from one of the favorites below. Keep this time separate from any school reading or skills practice for the child. Allow them to do the reading if they choose but bonus points if you do all the reading and just let them revel in the story. Discussion can occur if they take the lead, but again the goal is to simply enjoy the tale and the time together.

Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Richard Atwater

The Miniature World of Marvin and James by Elise Broach

The BFG by Roald Dahl

The Tale of Desperaux by Kate DiCamillo

The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Clementine by Sarah Pennypacker

The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White

I’d love to hear about your favorite bedtime reads and any tips for making it a habit. Share them in the comments below!

Happy Reading!

50 Books for Back-to-School

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.  

In addition to all the books I’ve already shared this week, I’m excited to share with you  50 more of my favorite back-to-school reads for all ages. This is by no means a comprehensive list, just some of the standouts over the last few years.  Some are dealing directly with first days of school (whether it be in a pre-school or kindergarten setting for the very first time or a new school or grade for older students) while some are focusing on the ins and outs of a classroom setting, friendships and social skills, and the unique dynamics of social hierarchies withing a school. And all are simply great books! 🙂

50 Back to School Books

Kindergarten Specific

Countdown to Kindergarten

Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten

Kindergarten Rocks

On the First Day of Kindergarten

Adventure Annie Goes to Kindergarten

Kindergarten Diary

Jake Starts School

First Day Jitters

The Kissing Hand

Wemberly Worried

Llama Llama Misses Mama

 

Picture Books

I Walk With Vanessa

Sumi’s First Day of School Ever

My Teacher is a Monster

The Name Jar

My Best Friend is as Sharp as a Pencil

The Art Lesson

Thank You, Mr. Falker

Rain School

The Teacher From the Black Lagoon

Nasreen’s Secret School: A True Story From Afghanistan

This Is the Way We Go To School

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade

Miss Nelson is Missing

The Invisible Boy

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way To School

 

Chapter Books/Middle Grade

Lola Levine is Not Mean

Justin Case: School, Drool, and Other Daily Disasters

Frindle

Gooney Bird Greene

Sideways Stories from Wayside School

The One and Only Stuey Lewis

Wonder

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things

Stuart Goes to School

Gertie’s Leap to Greatness

The Stars Beneath Our Feet

Real Friends

Wolf Hollow

 

Young Adult

The Hate U Give

I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You

Stargirl

Homeroom Diaries

Anna and the French Kiss

Drama

Speak

Extraordinary Means

Words on Bathroom Walls

Challenger Deep

The Fall

 

Have I missed any of your go-to’s? Be sure to share them in the comments below! Happy Reading!

 

Middle Grade Book Review ~ Just Sayin’

Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. 

I love me a good epistolary novel. (For anyone unfamiliar with that term, it’s a book written in the form of letters, diary entries or the modern-day version generally uses emails or even text messages.) I fell in love with the form back in 3rd or 4th grade when I spent my hard-earned money at the school book fair on a copy of Dear Mr. Henshaw (which is a little tattered but still graces my bookshelves today!)

Today’s middle grade book is a rare modern setting that actually relies on letters (our poor narrator constantly bugs her mom for a cell phone to text, can’t get on her grandma’s computer to email like she’d prefer and absolutely hates to talk on the phone.) It sounds a little contrived but it works.

Cassie is living with her grandmother while her mother goes off to ‘find herself’ and recover from a broken engagement. Meanwhile, Nick and Julie are forced to move from their home to a retirement community with their grandfather while helping their father heal. The kids spend the summer writing each other letters trying to piece together what happened between their parents to ruin the family they’d all hoped to have.

Cassie and Nick are the main writers but Julie, their parents, grandma, the local preacher and even a game show host each have a chance to have their say.  There’s a bit of Parent Trap-esque scheming involved but I really appreciated that the adults weren’t absent, just distracted. The realistic portrayals of each character’s growth and progression throughout the book was another point in its favor. It’s a great introduction to the genre and a fun, feel-good tale for middle grade readers.

Just Sayin' Book Review

 

Just Sayin’

Written by: Dandi Daley Mackall

Number of Pages: 190

Age Range: 8-12

Rating: 3.5/5

 

For fans of the genre, or those looking to explore more epistolary novels these are a few of my favorites:

Picture Books

The Quiet Place

Dear Mr. Blueberry

The Jolly Postman

Meerkat Mail

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type

Middle Grade

Dear Max

When Audrey Met Alice

Trial by Journal

Diary of A Wimpy Kid

Young Adult

Life as We Knew It

Monster

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares

Book of A Thousand Days

Code Name Verity

Adult

Dear Mr. Knightley

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

84, Charing Cross Road

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society