, , , , ,

This is the next in an ongoing series of topic related posts which are aimed at helping educators and/or parents to find books which are suitable accompaniments to their topic based projects in school.

I tend to steer away from recommending non-fiction works, as these are much easier for you to search on using Amazon or other book sites, given that the majority of non fiction topic books will have key words in the title. It’s not so easy with works of fiction.

I will indicate where I have read the book in question. If I do not mention it, I have not read it, and I would advise you to read all the books in question before you give them to children just to double check they are fit for purpose.

If you have any recommendations I have missed, please feel free to drop them in the comments box below the post.

The recommendations below are, in the main for Key Stage One children or younger. I have indicated where I think a book might work for a higher age group.

Toys in Space by Mini Grey – A children’s picture book, suitable for Key Stage One children, earl years and pre school children about a group of toys who get left outside in the dark overnight. It is the first time they have been out in the dark and they are scared. One of the dolls tells them a story to keep them occupied until morning. This is a great book with a lot of humour both for the children and adults who read it to them.

Voyage to the Bunny Planet by Rosemary Wells – These are classic picture books in America, but not so well known here in the UK. They seem to be rather more to do with taking time out to be a child and let your imagination take over, rather than about space exploration, but I shall stick them in here anyway.

Here in Space by David Milgrim – A rather twee picture book aimed really at the pre school market. Possibly useful in early years but no higher up the school. Cutesy animals and a small boy prance around in space in a lovely way.

Space Boy by Leo Landry – A story about Nicolas, who cannot get any peace at home, so he just pops into his rocket and goes to the moon to get some quiet time.  This is beautifully illustrated, and really good at telling a story from a child’s point of view. Children will empathise, parents will be gently amused.

Aliens Love Underpants by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort – This is a hugely popular picture book about aliens who cannot get enough of wearing pants. The aliens are absolutely adorable, and it’s great fun trying to spot as many as possible on every page, as they crop up in the most unlikely places.  The rhyming story is very silly but hugely effective and kids love this book. It is perfect for early years, pre school and Key Stage 1 children.

Aliens in Underpants Save the World by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort – This is the sequel to the highly successful Aliens Love Underpants and is pretty much exactly the same as its predecessor. Can one get enough of pictures of cute, tubby aliens wearing elasticated y fronts? Apparently not.

Mousetronaut by Mark Kelly – written by a real astronaut, Mark Kelly, this story is inspired by the journey he took into space with a cage full of mice who were to be used for scientific experiments. Don’t worry, the story is nice and the illustrations are gorgeous, and there is no vivisection involved.

Space Race by Malorie Blackman – A Corgi Pups published story by our current Children’s Laureate, Malorie Blackman. Corgi Pups is an imprint created specifically for newly confident children’s readers. This would be fine in KS1 upper stage, or in Early years as a story read by the teacher. It might make a good guided reading book for higher in the school. It tells the simple story of Lizzie and Jake who race each other to Pluto and back.

How to Catch A Star by Oliver Jeffers – A beautifully drawn and whimsical picture book about a boy who loves the stars so much he tries to catch and keep them.  Oliver Jeffer’s books always seem so slight and simple, but they are actually rather emotionally deep, and children seem drawn to and respond to the simplicity of them, giving you a way in to talk about quite complex topics with them. Highly recommended. Suitable for KS1, early years and pre school children.

The Way Back Home by Oliver Jeffers – A gorgeous picture book by the author of Lost and Found and How To Catch A Star. A boy discovers a plane in his cupboard one night when he should be in bed asleep. He goes on a magical journey to the moon, where he meets a friend in the shape of a martian who has crash landed his plane on the moon. The boy wants to help him, and flies home to get his tool kit. Will he get back in time to help his new friend? Suitable for KS1, early years and pre school children.

Man on the Moon by Simon Bartram – A fabulously entertaining picture book about a man called Bob.  Bob’s job is to go to the moon every day, welcome day trippers, keep it clean and tidy and then come home.  Bob does not believe in aliens, and one of the joys of the book is toggling between Bob’s hum drum job and the wonderful collection of aliens that crop up on every page and which Bob simply cannot see. Suitable for KS1, early years and pre school children.

Bob’s Best Friend by Simon Bartram – A Sequel to Man on the Moon by Simon Bartram, in which Bob is lonely and finds himself a dog to keep him company, except that the dog is not exactly as he seems. Another funny, well written book which will keep adults and children hugely entertained. Suitable for KS1, early years and pre school children.

Bob and the Moon Tree by Simon Bartram – Further adventures of Bob in picture book form. Suitable for KS1, early years and pre school children.

Bob and The Disappearing Moon – The Adventures of Bob and Barry by Simon Bartram – These are short, chapter led books by Simon Bartram, author of the picture books Man on the Moon, etc, about Bob and his adventures on the moon. These make a perfect bridging book between picture books and fully fledged novels. These would be suitable for children aged 7-9, particularly newly confident child readers, or as guided reading material in class.

Alien Tea on the Planet Zum Zee by Tony Mitton – Tony Mitton has a bright, colourful illustrative style (much like the Aliens Love Underpants books), and delights in rhyming and word play in his simple, picture book stories. Wonderful to read aloud. Suitable for KS1, early years and pre school children.

Laura’s Star by Klaus Baumgart – A gentle picture book story about Laura who finds a broken star on the pavement. She takes it home to mend it, and makes a friend for life. There are a whole series of books about Laura and her adventures with the magic star, as well as a film. Suitable for KS1, early years and pre school children.

There’s No Place Like Space by Tish Rabe – This is part of the Dr. Seuss, Cat in the Hat learning library.  Not as much fun, in my opinion as the original books, but if you like Seussisms, it can be a good way to introduce children to finding out about space. Suitable for KS1 and Early Years.

Coyote and the Sky: How the Sun, Moon and Stars Began by Emmett ‘Schkeme’ Garcia – This is a modern retelling of a classic native American Indian creation myth. The illustrations add to the richly magical quality of the tale and it is an interesting way to bring mythology and creation stories into a space theme. This story is suitable for all ages, but the concepts may make it more suitable for older children at the top end of KS1 or even into KS2 depending on how you were going to use the story in school.

Letters from an Alien School Boy by Ros Asquith – Flowkwee is an alien boy who has been sent on a mission to help his father. He has to disguise himself as a human school boy and infiltrate the planet earth. The book consists of the letters he sends home to his best friend, explaining all the bizarre things humans do.  This is the first in a fairly prolific series, all of which are available on Amazon.  There are a few black and white pictures in the books, but they are mainly text based. As such they are really suitable for upper KS1 and KS2. Reviews recommend it for children aged six and up. There are quite a few reviews from children saying how funny they found it. It might work well as a guided reading book.

The Planet Gods by Jacqueline Mitton – A gloriously illustrated picture book which takes each of the major planets in turn and explains the mythological stories behind their naming and creation. It also contains lots of facts about the planets and solar system.  My younger children found this book too challenging. They loved the pictures, but were bored by the text. As such I would say it is suitable for upper KS1 and KS2 in school.

Zoo in the Sky by Jacqueline Mitton – As above, a beautifully illustrated picture book which tells the stories of the animal shaped constellations, alongside facts about the stars we see in the sky today.

Once Upon a Starry Night by Jacqueline Mitton – As above, a gorgeous picture book which has a mix of mythological stories about the heavens, and facts as we understand them today.

Dr. Xargles Book of Earthlets by Jeanne Willis – this is a wonderfully funny picture book with classic illustrations by Tony Ross. This is the first in what has turned out to be a whole series of Dr. Xargle books. The premise is simple. Dr. Xargle is an alien teacher, training his alien students on what to expect when they eventually go to earth. It is funny because Dr. Xargle’s way of seeing earth and our own understanding of how we are as humans are so far apart that it leaves plenty of opportunities for belly laughs throughout.  I would recommend this to top level KS1 children if you are using it in school, as younger children often don’t get the joke.

Whatever Next? by Jill Murphy – This is a classic children’s picture book in which little bear is left to play by himself with a large cardboard box, a colander and a heap of imagination.  He finds himself whooshing up the chimney into the stars, and picnicking on the moon before he comes back down to earth, considerably sootier than when he took off.  Suitable for KS1, early years and pre school children.

Space Poems by Gaby Morgan – recommended for children between the ages of five and eight, this is a collection of poems about space. Just like it says on the tin.
Q Pootle 5 by Nick Butterworth – This was my son’s favourite book for years. Beautifully illustrated by Nick Butterworth, this is the story of a very cute alien who crash lands on earth when one of his rocket boosters blows up.  Q Pootle 5 has never been to earth before and simply doesn’t understand that the motley collection of cats, frogs and birds he enlists to help him, are not humans. Luckily despite this handicap, the cat helps him pull off a fine repair. A beautiful book with lots of humour and a great story.Suitable for KS1, early years and pre school children.
Q Pootle 5 in Space by Nick Butterworth – The sequel to Q Pootle 5. Q Pootle 5 is late for a party and being hunted by a mean asteroid. He doesn’t want to miss the bash with all of his best alien friends, so what can he do? Another wonderful story by Nick Butterworth with fantastic illustrations and a great pull out of the party as the last page.  Suitable for KS1, early years and pre school children.
Here Come the Aliens! by Colin McNaughton – Colin McNaughton has a wonderful way of writing lively, silly books with a sense of humour that kids love.  This book is about aliens coming to earth intent on taking over the planet. The only thing that can save humanity turns out to be the terrifying pictures of school children in the class room that scare the aliens off. Suitable for KS1, early years and pre school children.

We’re Off to Look for Aliens by Colin McNaughton – This book by perennially popular children’s author Colin McNaughton is about a dad writing a book about a dad who goes to space to encounter aliens, but also to look for a space girlfriend who he brings back to live on earth. It’s full of humour and lovely jokes about writing as well as about space.

Suitable for KS1, early years and pre school children.
The Blackest Hole in Space by Penny Little – Charlie and his friend Doggo spend all day making a super duper rocket. They’re desperate to show dad, but before they can get him, the rocket takes off with them in it, and they are sucked into their first space adventure.  The book has die cut holes in the cover and some of the pages to emulate the journey through space. A nice, touchy feely idea which smaller children will love.

Suitable for KS1, early years and pre school children.
Roaring Rockets by Tony Mitton – This is a picture book in a series called Amazing Machines. A trio of animals invite children to go along on a rocket ride into space. It is very simplistic, bright and colourful. Perfect for early years and pre school children, perhaps a little too babyish for higher years in school.

On the Moon by Anna Milbourne – This book uses a clever mixture of photographs of space and space exploration, on which are overlaid illustrations telling the story of a young girl’s travels into space. It is a fictional story, but which presents lots of facts in a way younger children find more palatable. Perfect for use in schools.

Suitable for KS1, early years and pre school children.
Winnie in Space by Valerie Thomas – Another fantastically humorous and imaginative picture book by Valerie Thomas about the hapless witch Winnie, and her dishevelled cat, George. The stories are good, but what really makes these books come alive for me are the bonkers illustrations by Korky Paul. Suitable for KS1, Early Years and Pre school children. Suitable for KS1, early years and pre school children.
Noah’s Rocket by Tony Frais – This is a modern day version of the Noah’s Ark story in which Noah is instructed to build a space rocket instead of an ark.  How will Noah get everyone safely back to earth? Suitable for KS1, Early Years and Pre school children. Suitable for KS1, early years and pre school children.
Stanley’s Space Adventure by Tony Frais – In the follow up to his modern day Noah’s ark story, Noah’s Rocket, Tony Frais sends Stanley the Spider into space to explore the planets of fruton and vegeton. Suitable for KS1, Early Years and Pre school children. Suitable for KS1, early years and pre school children.
Zoom Rocket Zoom by Margaret Mayo – A book in the Awesome Engine series, this is a bright and colourful picture book with a simple story about a rocket, designed to introduce early years and pre school children to the concepts of space and machinery.
Five Little Men in a Flying Saucer by Dan Crisp – An illustrated picture book with die cut holes for interaction, showing the classic children’s song.  Suitable for Early Years and pre school children.
Star Seeker by Theresa Heine – A picture book about a journey into outer space. The story mixes facts about space with mythological stories about the solar system as two children journey across the night sky. Suitable for KS1 and Early Years children.
Beegu by Alexis Deacon – An award winning picture book about a rabbit like alien called Beegu who lands on earth when she is not supposed to.  Beegu is lost, frightened and alone and doesn’t know how to get help until she meets some children.  This is a charming book which is really more about friendship than anything else, but which would tie nicely in as enriched material for a space themed project. Suitable for KS1, Early Years and Pre school children.
I took the Moon for a Walk by Carolyn Curtis – A poetic picture book in rhyme about a boy who takes his friend the moon on a walk across the night time landscape. Richly illustrated this would make a lovely gift for someone. Suitable for KS1 and Early Years children.
The King of Space by Jonny Duddle – A glorious picture book by the author of the Pirates Next Door. In this book, Rex is six, and just your average space boy, doing all the things that a space boy does, except that one day Rex will be the King of Space. He gets rather carried away one day, accidentally creating a marauding army of robots that will destroy everyone if he can’t figure out how to control them. Luckily his mother is on hand to sort things out.  Suitable for KS1 and Early Years.
Greetings! Earthlings! Space Poems by James Carter – Does what it says on the tin. Suitable for KS1 and Early Years children.