I recently put together a Solar System Unit Study which is designed to be comprehensive and work for a wide range of ages. I like to include a book list with all my unit study bundles and this one proved to be a challenge. Surprisingly, it was difficult to find books that were worthy of investing in and including in my list of recommendations.
I really strive for simplicity in my household so I do not like to have a lot of clutter in my home. Children's books continue to be a problem area for us so I'm very careful about the books I allow in our space. A book needs to be beautiful, informative, science books need to be up to date and they need to spark my child's (and my) imagination. Books that lack these things tend to fall flat and become clutter.
I spent a few months searching for book recommendations and checking out books from my local library and I was able to come up with a list of great books that I find worthy of adding to our bookshelves.
Space Encyclopedia: A Tour of Our Solar System and Beyond, David A. Aguilar
I don't like to have more than one or two reference books on a particular subject on our bookshelf and this one fits the bill. It is authored by David A. Aguilar of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. The book is visually compelling with beautiful photos from NASA and artwork from the author. The articles are clear and informative. It's described on Amazon as an “all in one ultimate reference book... ideal for the family bookshelf” and I agree. This is my favorite of all the reference books we came across. The age range is 10 and up but the visuals alone make this book worth it. My four year old loves looking through this book.
This is a unique book. Author/illustrator Kelsey Oseid did a wonderful job with this book. She managed to mix scientific information with mythology and beautiful illustrations in such a charming way! It's one of my personal favorites.
Earth! My First 4.54 Billion Years, Stacy McAnulty
This adorable book is written from the perspective of Earth. It's full of facts presented in a really cute and funny way. Your child will learn about Earth and how to love her.
Sun! One in a Billion, Stacy McAnulty
I'm assuming these autobiographical books about the objects in our solar system will be a series and I'm really looking forward to more! Again, this book is told from Sun's perspective. He of course wants the readers to know just how important he is.
The Darkest Dark, Chris Hadfield
I love reading this book with my son. It's about Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield overcoming his childhood fears and what inspired him to become an astronaut. It's very well written and the illustrations are by the fabulous Fan Brothers. You kids will love it.
Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover, Markus Motum
This is a favorite of my four year old. He's fascinated with the Mars rover so this book is perfect for him. The Mars rover, Curiosity, narrates her own story from being built by NASA scientists to roaming the surface of Mars. The author found a great balance of being both educational and engaging. It's informative with out being long-winded. It sparked lots of questions that lead to further discussions in our house. This is one we all love.
Gail Gibbons is my go to for children's nonfiction books. She's written more than 100 such books so I always look up what she's written on any subject we're studying. Her publisher described her work as “timeless and accessible” and I completely agree. Her illustrations are charming and the information straightforward. These books are great but they are just the type of book we like to check out at the library rather than keep on hand.
A Hundred Billion Trillion Stars, Seth Fishman
This is a sweet bedtime story type book. This book is not really about space but it does help put some of those big numbers into perspective. It focuses mainly on Earth and our world but in the wider context of the universe (the sun is one of a hundred billion trillion stars).
Exploring the Night Sky: The Equinox Astronomy Guide for Beginners, Terence Dickinson
This classic is a great book for older children or for parents like me to keep on hand as reference when stargazing with your children. Form the publisher: “Exploring the Night Sky is aimed at novice star gazers anxious to expand their astronomical repertoire beyond the Big and Little Dippers. Dickinson has designed a superb introduction to astronomy that is clear, concise, beautifully illustrated, and very "user friendly" no matter what the child's age.”
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