Inspiring Future Space Travelers by James McGowan￼
Space is cool. You don’t need me to tell you that. (Unless you’re one of those people who experience “cosmic vertigo” and can’t think about space without getting woozy, in which case you might need me to tell you it’s cool, so we can move on and stop discussing space. In that case, space is cool).
Books are also cool. THIS we can talk about for days.
I was psyched when I made the connection that I could merge two things I am obsessed over, and soon Good Night, Oppy! was born. The process of writing my debut was a long one, and it was filled with reading a ton of books about astronomy, space travel, and other planets. I can say this with certain authority: there is so much about space that will fascinate readers. And with STEM only becoming a larger focus lately, inspiring our younger readers’ interest in what’s among the stars is incredibly important!
So, if you’re reading Good Night, Oppy!: thank you, but please don’t stop there! I’ve compiled a list of my favorite books on space that can make any child (or grown-up) fall in love with astronomy. I encourage you to pick these up from your local indie bookstore or library.
PLUTO GETS THE CALL by Adam Rex and Laurie Keller
Not only is this one of my favorite picture books about space, but it’s also one of my favorite picture books. Period. Adam’s writing is hysterical and informative, and Laurie brought Pluto and the rest of the planets to life like I’m unsure any other could. This is a full-on introduction to our great solar system, and the first book worth reading to kindle a young one’s love of space!
Stop number two on our interplanetary tour…
EARTH! & SUN! & MOON! & MARS! by Stacy McAnulty and David Litchfield or Stevie Lewis
This series by Stacy McAnulty features work from two incredible illustrators, and it is worth checking out every single installment. Each book dives deep into their subject and teaches readers everything from the history, geography, and fun facts. Stacy does so with wit, a deft hand when doling out fascinating facts, and the art? A total joy. These are perfect for bedtime reads or even school projects. They also make quite the gift when bought together!
A HUNDRED BILLION, TRILLION STARS by Seth Fishman and Isabel Greenberg
Okay, get your little mathematicians ready, because this book is all about the numbers (and the possibility!). Fishman and Greenberg’s book is an all-out celebration of the vastness of space and all readers can learn about. Starting with, all hundred billion trillion stars!
HIDDEN FIGURES by Margot Lee Shetterly and Laura Freeman
Speaking of math… HIDDEN FIGURES is an absolute must. It sells the true story of the four Black women who were instrumental in helping the US win the Space Race. Though it’s not solely about the science of space, I’m including it on this list because the history of space travel is just as important as the future!
HOW WE GOT TO THE MOON by John Rocco
Which is also why I’m including HOW WE GOT TO THE MOON on this list. Sure, it’s not a picture book, but can totally be read chapter by chapter with your older readers! HOW WE GOT TO THE MOON is an in-depth dive into the Space Race, and how NASA brought the first humans to set foot on the Moon. It’s filled with incredible science, detailed illustrations, and a thorough history of American space travel.
RED ROVER by Richard Ho and Katherine Roy
Last, but certainly not least…
This book is stunning– on a text level and an art level. (I will never not buy a Katherine Roy book; I’ll tell you that). I’ve included it last on my list because I want you to spend all your time pouring over the details of this one. In this incredible book, readers will learn all about the Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars roughly eight years after Opportunity (whom you all know about, now, hopefully!). It’s a more serious approach to the life of a rover and will not disappoint. My copy is dog-eared and tattered from all my rereads.
There are undeniably books that I am missing on this list, and books that will hit shelves well after the date this publishes, but I do hope you’ll start here. There is no limit to what we can learn about from a picture book, despite our age. Let’s keep encouraging and igniting interest!
James McGowan is an author and also a literary agent at BookEnds Literary Agency. Good Night, Oppy! is his debut picture book. He lives in Staten Island, NY. Visit jmcgowanbooks.com.