Lessons from the moon: 1st quarter, 5 kids books about the night.

This week is all about books. Books that you can share with your children. Books about the moon, the stars, and feelings about the night. I believe that reading to kids is a gateway to connection and imagination. Few people have been to the moon and, so far, none have been beyond it but, like me, many find connection with the night and the stars and all of the magical bodies in the heavens by looking up and telling stories. What follows are 5 books that help kids connect with the distant moon and stars through story, poem and fact.

I’ll begin with a picture book by Ray Bradbury entitled Switch on the Night with illustrations by Leo and Diane Dillon (Knopf Books, 2000). The book is the story of a young boy who does not like light switches because they turn off the lights. He does not like the night. One night, when his parents are asleep the boy gets up in the night and switches on all the lights in the house. As he is watching the other children in the neighborhood play outside from the safety of his well lit house, while still feeling left out of the fun, he meets a girl called Dark. Dark teaches the boy about the night and how the switches that switch on light can be used to switch on the dark. Even though it is no longer true, I was once afraid of the dark, something that is true for many children, at least at some stage in their lives. Switch on the Night is a beautiful, poetic look at the beauty of the night and puts the power back in children’s hands by teaching them that they can switch on the dark. For kids 4 to 8 years old.

Another fun book for children between 3 and 8 is a book called The Birthday Moon, written by Lois Duncan with pictures by Susan Davis (Viking Juvenile, 1989). This is also a poem story centered around giving the moon as a gift and all the things that could be done with the gift moon. The poem explores the various phases of the moon in alternative uses for the different shapes the moon presents. In this wonderful little picture book, story telling and simple science meet in a whimsical presentation of the moon and her phases.

I used Constellations: A Glow in the Dark Guide to the Night Sky by Chris Sasaki, art by Alan Flinn (Sterling Publishing, 2006) as a source for some of my constellation stories. Each page is dedicated to a single constellation. Glow in the dark stars show the shape of the constellation that kids can look at in their darkened rooms. The text associated with each constellation tells the myths that early peoples told about the constellations. The thing I like about this book is that, while the Greek  myths dominate, this book offers other people’s stories like North America first nations people, China, and Maori to give a fresh  perspective on the topic. At the end of the book there are activities for children to do making it a good teaching resource. The book is for children between 4 and 8.

Comets, Stars, The Moon and Mars: Space Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian (Harcourt Childrens Books, 2007) is an accurate telling of space science fact using poetry as a medium. The poems are short and easy to read. They provide excellent memory tools for learning about space concepts. As you can tell from the title this book covers a wide range of topics from our solar system to constellations and galaxies. This book is a great way to learn the vocabulary of space. Aimed at children from 8 to 12.

For a fact based book for older children I liked Children’s Night Sky Atlas by Robin Scagill, Consultant Dr. Jacqueline Mitton (DK Children, 2004). This is a reference book but written for use by children. Each page is a wealth of detail about that aspect of the night sky. It follows the night sky chronologically from season to season with detailed star maps for each season. Overlay pages help children see the patterns in the stars but also allow them to trace the outlines on their own, with out the connect the dots pages. Two things I particularly liked about this were the inclusion of both Northern and Southern hemispheres in the maps and the inclusion of prominent women astronomers in the biographies of important astronomers that are scattered throughout the book. Children’s Night Sky Atlas goes beyond a simple star map and covers where the earth is in the solar system, the solar system is in the galaxy and universe. It teaches beginners how to read a star map and to find the constellations in the sky. The book says it is aimed at children between 8 and 12 but this is the kind of starter book I buy for myself when I am trying to get the basics of a new subject.

Books and stories have always been a part of my life. From the stories my dad told on our trips to the Arizona desert to the books that I devoured growing up I always felt connected to distant things through stories. I had a lot of fun trying to find books to review for this post. The fun part was that this is only the tip of the iceberg, there are hundreds more. I hope that this opens a door for you to explore. I did not provide links to Amazon, you can do that yourself if you choose, but I challenge you to check out your local library or book store for their offerings. I used the moon, stars, and astronomy for kids as key words to find these offerings. Go explore your book purveyors. Dig in and have fun. When you are done, I hope you share what you discover on your explorations. Happy reading!

2 comments to Lessons from the moon: 1st quarter, 5 kids books about the night.

  • I actually decided to produce a simple movie about this, I would be honored if you could possibly take a moment to check it and possibly leave a message about what you think, thanks greatly