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7 Stellar Picture Books to Use in Your Space Unit

If you're ready to blast off into space with your students, you're in for an intergalactic adventure. One surefire way to spark their curiosity is through the magic of picture books. These literary wonders can transport young minds to distant galaxies, ignite their imaginations, and make complex scientific concepts accessible. 

Explore the final frontier with our top 7 picture book picks for your space unit.

1. Luna Muna by Kellie Gerardi 

Luna Muna takes readers on a journey to the Moon through the eyes of a curious young girl named Luna. She dreams of becoming an astronaut and explores the wonders of space with her robot companion, Muna. Together, they discover the beauty and mysteries of the lunar landscape, inspiring readers to dream big and reach for the stars. 

Luna Muna is written by Kellie Gerardi, a female astronaut and space researcher.

Teaching Activity: After reading Luna Muna, have your students create their own lunar landscapes using art supplies like paper, paint, and modeling clay. This hands-on activity allows students to express their creativity while reinforcing concepts about the Moon's surface and the challenges of space exploration.

2. Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

Hidden Figures tells the true story of four African American women who worked at NASA during the space race. This book highlights the contributions of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden and sheds light on their groundbreaking achievements in mathematics and engineering.

Teaching Activity: Organize a classroom discussion about diversity and representation in STEM fields. Use Hidden Figures as a starting point to explore the importance of inclusion and the impact of these women on space exploration.

3. The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield

Ever wonder what it's like to dream of becoming an astronaut while being afraid of the dark? The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield, a Canadian astronaut, takes readers on a journey through young Chris's fear of the dark and how he overcomes it to achieve his dream of space exploration. This book is perfect for discussing overcoming fears, pursuing dreams, and the wonders of space.

Teaching Activity: Challenge your students to write and illustrate their own stories inspired by The Darkest Dark, focusing on themes of courage and adventure.

4. The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers

The Way Back Home follows a young boy who discovers a spaceship in his backyard and embarks on an interstellar journey to help a stranded Martian return home. Through whimsical illustrations and imaginative storytelling, this book explores themes of friendship, empathy, and the possibilities of the universe.

Teaching Activity: Create a solar system scavenger hunt where students search for clues about each planet's unique features and characteristics hidden around the classroom or schoolyard.

5. Mousetronaut by Mark Kelly

Mousetronaut tells the charming story of a small mouse named Meteor who joins a space mission and proves that even the smallest creature can make a big impact. Based on astronaut Mark Kelly's experiences with a real mouse on a space shuttle mission, this book celebrates teamwork, courage, and the thrill of space exploration.

Teaching Activity: Create a STEM challenge where students design and build miniature rockets using everyday materials like paper, straws, and tape. Encourage your students to test their rockets and measure how far they can travel. 

6. If You Decide to Go to the Moon by Faith McNulty

If You Decide to Go to the Moon is a guidebook that takes readers to Earth's nearest celestial neighbor. This book explores space travel through detailed illustrations and informative text, inspiring readers to imagine themselves as astronauts exploring the Moon.

Teaching Activity: Have your students create their own "survival guides" for traveling to other planets or celestial bodies, incorporating facts they've learned about space travel.

7. Roaring Rockets by Tony Mitton

Get ready for liftoff with Roaring Rockets, a high-energy picture book that takes readers on a ride through space. From the countdown to launch to the weightlessness of zero gravity, this book captures the excitement and adventure of space travel. With its lively rhymes, this book will leave young readers starry-eyed and eager for their own cosmic adventures.

Teaching Activity: Organize a virtual field trip to a planetarium or observatory where students can learn more about space exploration.

Blast Off!

With these literary gems in your classroom library, you'll inspire a new generation of space explorers and ignite a lifelong passion for the cosmos.

Written by Brooke Lektorich
Education World Contributor
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