40+ Picture Books about Space

A couple years ago, I created a list of the picture books we love about rockets and Mars exploration. Those were some of our favorites, back when I was working on my own picture book about building a colony on Mars—The Rocket that Flew to Mars.

Space is fascinating, though, and we’ve been reading a ton more books recently about space, the solar system, and the planets.

Here’s the updated list, with more than 40 picture books and nonfiction books for children from preschool to middle school! I’ve broken them out based largely on whether the’re for beginning readers and read-aloud story times, or if they’re meant for older, independent readers.

picture books about space exploration

Picture Books and Beginning Readers:

  • The Story of Space: A First Book about our Universe, Catherine Barr and Steve Williams, illustrated by Amy Husband – a fun picture book packed with information about the formation of the solar system.
  • The Sun Is Kind of a Big Deal, by Nick Seluk – a goofy, cartoon-style introduction to the sun and the solar system.
  • Planets, by Nancy Dickmann – another good introduction to the solar system.
  • If Pluto Was a Pea, by Gabrielle Prendergast, illustrated by Rebecca Gerlings – a great book about the scale of the solar system.
  • The Magic School Bus: Lost in the Solar System, by Joanna Cole, illustrated by Bruce Degen – like all Magic School Bus books, this is a humorous way to introduce children to the key facts about this topic.
  • First big book of space, by Catherine D. Hughes, illustrated by David A. Aguilar – a good introduction to space from National Geographic.
  • The Sun, by L.L. Owens – a simple, nonfiction introduction to the sun and its important role.
  • My Light, by Molly Bang – an entertaining introduction to solar energy and how important it is for our survival.
  • The Sky is Full of Stars, by Franklyn M. Branley, illustrated by Felicia Bond – an easy-reader introduction to stars and constellations.
  • Stars! Stars! Stars!, by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace – a fun story about visiting a planetarium and learning about stars.
  • Stars Before Bedtime: A Mindful Fall-Asleep Book, by Dr. Jessamy Hibberd and Claire Grace, illustrated by Hannah Tolson – a fun book focused on helping kids relax for bedtime, while also teaching them about the constellations.
  • Discovering New Planets, by Mae Jemison and Dana Meachen Rau – a highly educational book about the process scientists use to study our solar system and look for exoplanets orbiting other stars.
  • The Moon Seems to Change, by Franklyn M. Branley, illustrated by Barbara and Ed Emberley – a good explanation of the lunar cycles.
  • Moon, by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Stevie Lewis – a beautiful picture book narrated by the moon, telling where she came from and what she does (hang out Earth, of course!).
  • Astronaut Handbook, by Meghan McCarthy – a neat, fictional introduction to the space program in the days of the space shuttle.
  • If You Decide to Go to the Moon, by Faith McNulty, illustrated by Steve Kellogg – a fun informational fiction book about traveling to the moon.
  • Astronaut Annie, by Suzanne Slade, illustrated by Nicole Tadgell – a fiction picture book about a girl’s dream for when she grows up.
  • My Journey to the Stars, by Scott Kelly and Emily Easton, illustrated by Andr√© Ceolin – the picture book version of astronaut Scott Kelly’s biography.
  • International Space Station (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2), by Dr. Franklyn M. Branley, illustrated by True Kelley – a good easy-reader introduction to the ISS.
  • Max Goes to the Space Station, by Jeffrey Bennett, illustrated by Michael Carroll – part of a heart-warming and informative series about a space-faring dog.
  • Nefertiti, the Spidernaut, by Darcy Pattison, illustrated by Valerie Tisnes – the story of a jumping spider sent to the International Space Station by scientists studying how animals adapt to the weightlessness of space.
  • 50 Animals That Have Been to Space, by Jennifer Read and John A Read – an interesting history of space exploration.
  • How Do Space Vehicles Work?, by Buffy Silverman – a simple earlier reader about spacecraft.
  • Red Rover: Curiosity on Mars, by Richard Ho, illustrated by Katherine Roy – a gorgeous book showing the Martian landscape.
  • The Mars Rovers, by Patricia Hutchison – a solid informational book about Mars exploration.
  • Hey-ho, to Mars We'll Go!, by Susan Lendroth, illustrated by Bob Kolar - a space-age version of the Farmer in the Dell.
  • You Are the First Kid on Mars, by Patrick O'Brien – a great imaginative story about traveling to Mars.
  • Mission to Mars, by Franklyn M. Branley, illustrated by True Kelley, foreword by Neil Armstrong – another early reader with tons of information about Mars.
  • The Girl Who Named Pluto: The Story of Venetia Burney, written by Alice B. McGinty, illustrated by Elizabeth Haidle – the real-life story about how Pluto got its name.
  • The Planet Hunter: The Story Behind What Happened to Pluto, by Elizabeth Rusch, illustrated by Guy Francis – a nonfiction book about one of the scientists looking for new planets.
  • Pluto's Secret, by Margaret A. Weitekamp with David DeVorkin, illustrated by Diane Kidd – an excellent fictional introduction to Pluto’s demotion.
  • Pluto Gets the Call, by Adam Rex, illustrated by Laurie Keller – a whimsical story about Pluto’s reaction when he learns he’s no longer a planet.
  • Jupiter, by Elaine Landau – a good easy-reader introduction to Mars. Definitely look for the other planet books by this author as well, including Mars, and Beyond Pluto.

books for older children

Books for Older Readers:

  • Solar System, by Anne Jank√©liowitch, illustrated by Annabelle Buxton – a gorgeous book about the solar system, planets, and much more.
  • Our Solar System, by Seymour Simon – a more traditional nonfiction children’s book with a ton of information. Simon is also the author of books about the individual planets that are also excellent resources for older students, including Destination Mars, Destination Jupiter, and more.
  • Space: A Visual Encyclopedia, by DK Books – tons of infographics for independent readers to explore. Be sure to check out the other DK Eyewitness books on space topics.
  • You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes, by Chris Hadfield – not a children’s book per say, but a stunning collection of photographs taken from the International Space Station.
  • Rocketry: Investigate the Science and Technology of Rockets and Ballistics, by Carla Mooney, illustrated by Caitlin Denham – a great information history of space exploration for older students, with hands-on projects to try.
  • The Cassini Mission: Robots Exploring Saturn and its Moon Titan, by Angela Royston – the background and discoveries from the Cassini Mission.
  • Mission to Pluto: The First Visit to an Ice Dwarf and the Kuiper belt, by Mary Kay Carson, with photographs by Tom Uhlman – a fascinating book about Pluto’s discovery and the New Horizons mission.
  • Eclipse Chaser: Science in the Moon's Shadow, by Ilima Loomis and Amanda Cowan – an in-depth exploration of scientists working to study eclipses.
  • Astronomy for Kids: How to Explore Outer Space with Binoculars, a Telescope, or Just Your Eyes!, by Bruce Betts, PhD – a thorough introduction to astronomy and science basics for older students.
  • Night Sky, by Carole Stott – a good resource for astronomy and kids’ activities.
  • Math in Space, by Nancy Dickmann – a rather unique way of looking at math, as well as space!

Looking for activities to pair with these books? Try these!

Pluto's Valentine Heart

some of our favorite picture books about space