I reserve a special spot on my bookshelf for night sky-themed books for children. Children gravitate to things that tickle their imagination and open their hearts and minds to the world around them, and the cosmos easily does both.
I love gifting beautiful books to kids, and there is no shortage of awe-inspiring books about the moon and stars for young readers. The books on this list come straight from my bookshelf. I heartily recommend all of them as birthday, holiday, or special recognition gifts for the children in your life. Give them the gift of falling in love with the dark.
by Rola Shaw, illustrated by Lara Hawthorne
In a small number of pages, this book packs a punch. It introduces young readers to different things in the night sky, cultural stories, animal stories, and a timeline of astronomy. It’s so fascinating that adults will love reading it to their kids.
A Children’s Introduction to the Night Sky
by Michael Driscoll, illustrated by Meredith Hamilton
Every child needs a good beginner astronomy book that captures their imagination and gets them excited about space. Book sellers stock dozens of great options, but I’ve fallen in love with this one. The book takes readers through the solar system, deep space, the constellations, and astronomical discoveries. As a bonus, the book includes a star finder and glow-in-the-dark stickers.
PROTECTING THE NIGHT SKY
by Marsha Diane Arnold, illustrated by Susan Reagan
How do you teach young readers about a big topic like light pollution? Marsha Diane Arnold tells an animal adventure story that makes it easy for children to understand what light pollution does and how it impacts our animal friends.
Listen to Marsha on these two Night Sky Tourist podcast episodes:
What if Night?
by Paul Bogard, illustrated by Sarah Holden
What if night never came? How much fun could you have? Turns out, it wouldn’t be fun for any of the animals, moths, or birds. The stars would never shine, and dreams would never come. Paul Bogard, author of The End of Night, has written a sweet book for children about a world without night.
Listen to Paul on this episode of the Night Sky Tourist podcast:
There One was a Sky Full of Stars
by Bob Crelin, illustrated by Amie Ziner
This is another book that introduces young readers to the concept of light pollution. The fun rhymes include a powerful statement: “Some children won’t care to look up in the air. ‘Those stars are just stories,’ they’ll say.”
by Jamie Hogan
Tamen dreams of seeing the stars and the Milky Way like he reads about in his favorite comic book. But in his big, brightly lit city, there are no stars. Then, one night, his mother surprises him with a trip to see the stars.
Listen to Jamie on this episode of the Night Sky Tourist podcast:
When the Moon is Full: A Lunar Year
by Penny Pollock, illustrated by Mary Azarian
Take a journey across all the full moons in a year while learning some of their Native American names and what they mean.
Once in a Full Moon
by Carolinda Goodman, illustrated by Mariia Luzina
This book also takes young readers across the months with simple rhymes and beautiful illustrations.
by Branna J. McDaniel, illustrated by Tonya Engel
Mable loves her grandmother’s stories about the moon and constellations. When Grana asks what is impossible if you could touch the moon, Mable dreams of doing just that. A touching story of a young girl bonding with her grandmother over the night sky.
Listen to Breanna on this episode of the Night Sky Tourist podcast:
The Moon Tonight: Our Moon’s Journey around the Earth
by Jung Chang-hoon, illustrated by Jang Ho
Every night, the moon changes its shape and position in the sky. This book beautifully illustrates what is happening from one phase to the next, and everything in between.
Thirteen Moons on Turtle’s Back: A Native American Year of Moons
by Joseph Bruchac & Jonathan London, illustrated by Thomas Locker
Many Native American people look at Turtle’s back as a calendar of thirteen moons, making up an entire year. Different Native American cultures are represented in the pages of this book, with beautiful writing and illustrations.
Coyote Places the Stars
by Harriet Peck Taylor
This Wasco Indian story about how the stars got in the sky is beautifully illustrated with dyes on cotton fabric. Readers get a glimpse into the night sky storytelling of another culture.
They Dance in the Sky: Native American Star Myths
by Jean Guard Monroe & Ray A. Williamson, illustrated by Edgar Stewart
Stories of the night sky are an important part of Native American storytelling. The storytelling helps them observe the seasons, celebrations, and other important aspects of their culture. This book includes skylore from the Plains Indians, California Indians, and Pawnee Indians, along with some others.
The Star People: A Lakota Story
by S.D. Nelson
With gorgeous imagery, this story takes you across the prairie during a storm where the characters are lost all night. But Grandmother comes to them in the stars to remind them of the Lakota’s ways and to protect them. This story illustrates the common Native American theme of the stars being our ancestors.
How the Stars Fell into the Sky: A Navajo Legend
by Jerrie Oughton, illustrated by Lisa Desimini
Most indigenous cultures have star stories that embody their origin stories, or that explain how things we see today came to be. In this story, First Woman tries to find a way to write the laws for the people so they can always see them. She settles on writing them on stars and placing them in the sky. Then, mischievous coyote gets involved.
Star Stories: Constellation Tales from around the World
by Anita Ganeri, illustrated by Andy Wilx
Take a tour around the world to hear cultural stories from all the continents. You’ll read stories about the sun, moon, stars, and the Milky Way, from Greece to Africa, to Oceania, and beyond.
Seeing Stars: A Complete Guide to the 88 Constellations
by Sara Gillingham
This book is part stargazing, part star stories. For each constellation, readers will learn how to find it in the sky and how to distinguish its outline. They also get a little star story to go along with it.
MORE FUN BOOKS
Ada and the Galaxies
by Alan Lightman & Olga Pastuchiv, illustrated by Susana Chapman
Illustrator Susana Chapman beautifully merges her whimsical art with actual images from the Hubble Space Telescope to tell the story of Ada. Ada visits her grandparents on an island in Maine. She can’t wait for night to come so she can see the stars. While she waits, she discovers all kinds of things that remind her of shapes in the night sky: starfish, shells, crabs, and more.
Listen to Susana on this episode of the Night Sky Tourist podcast:
by Lupita Nyong’o, illustrated by Vashti Harrison
Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o’s book for young black girls is heartwarming. Sulwe has skin the color of midnight, darker than anyone in her family or school. She wishes for lighter skin, until her dreams take her on a journey to the night sky. There, she meets the sisters Day and Night.
The Fire of Stars: The Life and Brilliance of the Woman Who Discovered What Stars are Made Of
by Kirsten W. Larson, illustrated by Katherine Roy
This is the true story of Cecilia Payne, an astronomer and astrophysicist who discovered what makes the stars shine. As the story unfolds, readers will feel inspired to pursue their curiosity wherever it may take them, even to the stars.