As a child of the sixties, I wanted to be an astronaut. All the kids wanted to be astronauts. Every fancy-dress life goal involved a spacesuit – I remember watching Neil Armstrong’s moon walk live and thinking that it was just so wildly exciting. The world was moonstruck, everyone in every nation. Science fiction was the most popular movie or TV show genre, and a young singer called David Bowie had a new song about being stuck in space. Kids like me pored over astronaut books and called out rocket launch countdowns. Clever and heroic people, even nerds, could be the greatest heroes.
Now, fifty years on, the best books for kids on the moon landing are arriving for the celebration. This celebration is not mere nostalgia for oldies. The anniversary’s celebration is vital for children to experience; to see how intelligence and cooperation can conquer challenging problems on behalf of the world.
Here’s four of my favourite kids’ books on space exploration, but there are many more in our Shoot for the Moon showcase.
When We Walked on the Moon
by David Long
In When We Walked on the Moon, David Long tells a bunch of stories about the Apollo missions and they are astonishing, inspiring, and even funny. Many are new to me, and this collection will delight readers of all ages. It is informative, fun, and full of facts that are actually engaging. The use of quotes from real astronauts brings a personal sense of feeling to the book, and their real-life experience is powerful. Beautifully illustrated, it is a perfect mix of picture book and non-fiction fact file, great as a gift or for sharing in the classroom.
For ages 6+ – buy it here.
To The Moon and Back
by Bryan Sullivan, with Jackie French
Winner of the 2005 Eve Pownall Award for Information Books, To the Moon and Back has been revised and expanded for the anniversary. It tells not just of the challenges of the moon mission, but of Australia’s role in its success. Bryan Sullivan was one of the technicians on duty at Honeysuckle Creek, handling the vital communications for Apollo and relaying them to NASA. Bryan is married to award-winning children’s author Jackie French and she skilfully brings the science and history insights to life, engaging readers with all the fun facts that kids want to know about moon stuff, rockets, and spacesuits. The authors also talk of Aboriginal astronomy and the progression of technology into the age of the internet. This is vital reading for Aussie astronauts.
For ages 10+ – buy it here.
A Galaxy of her Own
by Libby Jackson
Isaac Newton once noted that every great scientist sees further by standing on the shoulders of giants. A Galaxy of Her Own tells fifty stories of inspirational women who have been fundamental to the story of humans in space, from scientists to astronauts. They are spread through history, from astronomers to mathematicians, engineers to astronauts, and they are vital giants indeed. Libby Jackson is a physicist and engineer for the UK Space Agency and gives each of the fifty subjects a biography and a quote, tailed with an encouraging message that anyone can achieve their dreams. It is an inspiring and empowering book, packed with beautiful artwork by London illustration students. A more informative book of stories you never knew – it’s the perfect antidote to the NASA boy’s club.
For all ages – buy it here.
by Mark Greenwood and Terry Denton (Illustrator)
It’s July 1969. As the moon landing happens, far away in the NSW country town of Parkes three kids are daydreaming about walking on the lunar surface. They are playing at astronauting, making rocket models and tin foil spacesuits and generally having fun acting out. But Billy, Micky, and Buzz live near “The Dish” radio telescope and soon discover Australia’s big part in the moon mission.
Vividly told as an interplay between fact and fiction, reality and dreams, Moonwalkers has some of Terry Denton’s best illustrations. It is a delightful read that’s full of joyful excitement and laugh-out-loud humour. At the same time, it celebrates co-operation, as the three youngsters bond on a common big project – the Saturn V rocket. As a country kid who was the same age as these boys back in 1969, I loved this. It is the best book I’ve come across for explaining the thrills of that moment in time… just wonderful!
For ages 6 to 8 – buy it here.
Check out Booktopia’s Shoot for the Moon showcase!