Monday, April 4, 2011

Winning Kids: Little Nippers Top 10 (Space)

Little Nippers Top 10
by Michelle Berg

Last month my children received a set of glow-in-the-dark Solar System stickers from a friend. I attached them to their ceiling and ever since our bedtime routine has been enormously fun. We spend a good 10 minutes a night finding and naming the planets. With this in mind, I embarked on a mission to find the best children’s books on space. It wasn’t easy. There isn’t much available and what is on hand is mostly dry. However, my efforts have been quite rewarding. Through this research, my children can now name all the planets and offer facts about each as well! Take a look at the following books:

Our Stars10. Our Stars
Written and Illustrated by Anne Rockwell.

Teachers, turn your students into stargazers with the help of this book as it is a great starting point for young listeners. Told with simplicity, in a language that kids can understand, Our Stars will introduce the concepts of constellations with illustrations depicting Orion the Hunter, The Big Dipper and Leo the Lion. In addition, it briefly touches upon other parts of the universe such as the planets, comets and meteors. This book is sure to raise curiosity about the wonders of the outer space.
9. The Moon Seems to Change
Written by Franklyn Branley. Illustrated by Barbara and Ed Emberley.
Although, the text is somewhat dry, I found this book perfect for my classroom. Dr. Franklyn Branley set out to explain the phenomena of the moon and all its phases and he did a brilliant job. Why does the moon seem to change? Once I read this book I was better equipped to explain it to my students. With simple illustrations the author describes what we see as it travels around the Earth. Also, with the use of an orange, a pencil and a flashlight, I tried the suggested experiment described at the end of the book. The children not only enjoyed it but it also opened up many discussions during meeting time.
The Planets in Our Solar System (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science, Stage 2)8. The Planets in Our Solar System
Written by Franklyn Branley. Illustrated by Kevin O’Malley.

Also written by Dr. Franklyn Branley but is a little more reader friendly than The Moon Seems to Change. I read this book during story time and my children seem very engaged. They enjoyed hearing about the temperatures on Neptune and Pluto and how vastly different they were compared to Mercury and Venus. They enjoyed Kevin O’Malley’s full-color illustrations and actual photographs of Asteroid’s, Meteorites and Comets. We also enjoyed working together to build a Solar System Mobile with the help of the step by step instructions in the back of the book.
7. Stars! Stars! Stars!
Written and Illustrated by Bob Barner.

Written for the very youngest of readers, this dynamic book introduces the planets that make up our Solar System. “Stormy Mars glowing red in the vastness of space/Giant planet Jupiter moving with grace.” The simple rhyming narrative and loose collage illustrations are perfect for children ages infant – preschool. The brightly designed pages in the back include facts about each planet and definitions for words such as, constellation, comet and asteroid.
Written by Joan Sweeney. Illustrated by Annette Cable.

A wonderful introduction to outer space, this book is geared to a slightly younger age group than most of the books on this list. From a child’s point of view, the narrator presents our solar system through childlike drawings in pencil and crayon along with a heap of fascinating facts. The final pages leave the reader with wonder and the possibility of other planets like Earth. This book also includes a glossary of words.
5. Postcards from Pluto
Written and Illustrated by Loreen Leedy.

This cleverly written science book takes a group of kids around the Solar System on a spaceship with a friendly robot. As the children speed around the nine planets they are inspired to write postcards to their relatives at home. Although, I’m not fond of the use of dialogue balloons for the bulk of the text, I do love the concept of the postcards. There is a postcard sent from each planet including the sun and the moon. It is through these postcards that the reader will find most of the facts. You can easily skip the dialogue balloons and read only the postcards and still get a lot of information.
A Child's Introduction to the Night Sky: The Story of the Stars, Planets, and Constellations--and How You Can Find Them in the Sky4. A Child’s Introduction to the Night Sky
Written by Michael Driscoll. Illustrated by Meredith Hamilton.
With 93 wonderful pages of astrophysical facts, Micheal Driscoll has given us a child friendly encyclopedia entirely about our Solar System. Here you will learn about how stars are born, how the planets move through the sky, the Milky Way, comets, black holes and even about astronauts and space travel. It comes complete with a Star Finder and glow-in-the-dark stickers you can attach to your ceiling. This is a great reference tool for teachers or grade-school students researching a project.
3. What’s So Special About Planet Earth?
Written and Illustrated by Robert E. Wells.

Just what would it be like to live on another planet? As we take an imaginary tour of each planet we discover that it would be impossible (at least with the planets in our solar system) for humans to survive. Mercury and Mars have almost no oxygen, Venus’s atmosphere is poisonous and the outer planets are made mostly of gas! Robert E. Wells ends his tour with an environmental lesson giving us all tips on what we can do to keep our miraculous planet Earth healthy.
2. Can You Find a Planet?
Written by Sidney Rosen. Illustrated by Dean Lindberg.

Framed as a question and answer book, this Astronomy professor presents facts in an undeniably compelling manner. Pairing easy text, cartoon characters and actual photographs taken from NASA spacecrafts this book will inspire many discussions about our Solar System and create a true love for the universe. Answering questions like, the difference between planets and stars and what astronauts have discovered about each planet.
Going Around the Sun: Some Planetary Fun1. Going Around the Sun: Some Planetary Fun
Written by Marianne Berkes. Illustrated by Janeen Mason.

Teacher and author of six picture books, Marianne Berkes, clearly understands how to catch the attention of young minds and make education fun! To the tune of “Over the Meadow” she writes an entertaining poem about our Solar System. “Up in outer space” it begins, “In a great galaxy/Lived an old Mother Sun/And her planet, Mercury.” As we turn the pages we take part in a conversation the Mother has with each of her planets. “Whirl’, said the Mother/ ‘I whirl’, said the One./So it whirled and it twirled/As it went around the Sun.” It ends with 6 pages of planetary facts and additional ideas for the classroom. My six year old son has become enamored with this book! It is an absolute treasure!
Michelle Berg is a Pre-School Teacher and author of children's book, Miss Mandy Manners.  Please visit her website:
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