Middle grade books about space tend to either be sci-fi or feature kids who are obsessed with all things space-related. This list is a mix of both! If your kids can’t get enough of rockets, NASA, space, other planets, and more, they’ll love the stories on this list. I’ve also included some non-fiction space books for tweens who are hungry for more knowledge on the topic.
Middle Grade Books About Space
Clues to the Universe
Published: January 12, 2021
The only thing Rosalind Ling Geraghty loves more than watching NASA launches with her dad is building rockets with him. When he dies unexpectedly, all Ro has left of him is an unfinished model rocket they had been working on together.
Benjamin Burns doesn’t like science, but he can’t get enough of Spacebound, a popular comic book series. When he finds a sketch that suggests that his dad created the comics, he’s thrilled. Too bad his dad walked out years ago, and Benji has no way to contact him.
Though Ro and Benji were only supposed to be science class partners, the pair become unlikely friends, and Ro even figures out a way to reunite Benji and his dad. But Benji hesitates, which infuriates Ro. Doesn’t he realize how much Ro wishes she could be in his place?
As the two face bullying, grief, and their own differences, Benji and Ro try to piece together clues to some of the biggest questions in the universe.
We Dream of Space
Published: May 5, 2020
Cash, Fitch, and Bird Nelson Thomas are three siblings in seventh grade together in Park, Delaware. In 1986, as the country waits expectantly for the launch of the space shuttle Challenger, they each struggle with their own personal anxieties. Cash, who loves basketball but has a newly broken wrist, is in danger of failing seventh grade for the second time. Fitch spends every afternoon playing Major Havoc at the arcade on Main and wrestles with an explosive temper that he doesn’t understand. And Bird, his twelve-year-old twin, dreams of being NASA’s first female shuttle commander, but feels like she’s disappearing.
The Nelson Thomas children exist in their own orbits, circling a tense and unpredictable household, with little in common except an enthusiastic science teacher named Ms. Salonga. As the launch of the Challenger approaches, Ms. Salonga gives her students a project—they are separated into spacecraft crews and must create and complete a mission. When the fated day finally arrives, it changes all of their lives and brings them together in unexpected ways.
I Love You, Michael Collins
Published: June 20, 2017
It’s 1969 and the country is gearing up for what looks to be the most exciting moment in U.S. history: men landing on the moon. Ten-year-old Mamie’s class is given an assignment to write letters to the astronauts. All the girls write to Neil Armstrong (“So cute!”) and all the boys write to Buzz Aldrin (“So cool!”). Only Mamie writes to Michael Collins, the astronaut who will come so close but never achieve everyone else’s dream of walking on the moon, because he is the one who must stay with the ship. After school ends, Mamie keeps writing to Michael Collins, taking comfort in telling someone about what’s going on with her family as, one by one, they leave the house thinking that someone else is taking care of her―until she is all alone except for her cat and her best friend, Buster. And as the date of the launch nears, Mamie can’t help but wonder: Does no one stay with the ship anymore? With I LOVE YOU, MICHAEL COLLINS, Lauren Baratz-Logsted has created a heartwarming story about family and being true to yourself.
See You in the Cosmos
Published: February 28, 2017
11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like. But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he’ll uncover—from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.
Jack Cheng’s debut is full of joy, optimism, determination, and unbelievable heart. To read the first page is to fall in love with Alex and his view of our big, beautiful, complicated world. To read the last is to know he and his story will stay with you a long, long time.
A Problematic Paradox
Published: January 23, 2018
Nikola Kross has given up on living in harmony with classmates and exasperated teachers: she prefers dabbling in experimental chemistry to fitting in. But when her life is axially inverted by a gang of extraterrestrials who kidnap her dad and attempt to recruit her into their service, she discovers he’s been keeping a world of secrets from her–including the school for geniuses where she’s sent for refuge, a place where classes like Practical Quantum Mechanics are the norm and where students use wormholes to commute to class. For Nikola, the hard part isn’t school, it’s making friends, especially when the student body isn’t (entirely) human. But the most puzzling paradox of all is Nikola herself, who has certain abilities that no one understands–abilities that put her whole school in greater danger than she could have imagined.
Published: August 3, 2021
When scientists discover a rare and mysterious mineral buried in the Earth’s crust, they have no idea that it just happens to be the most valuable substance in the entire universe. It’s not long before aliens show up to our little corner of the galaxy offering a promise of protection, some fabulous new technology, and entry into their intergalactic coalition—all in exchange for this precious resource. A material so precious that other alien forces are willing to start a war over it. A war that soon makes its way to Earth.
Leo knows this all too well. His mother was killed in one such attack, and soon after, his father, a Coalition scientist, decides it would be best for them to leave Earth behind. It’s on this expedition that their ship is attacked, Leo’s father is kidnapped, and Leo and his brother are stranded in the middle of space. The only chance they have is for Leo to stow away on a strange ship of mercenary space pirates bound for who knows where and beg the captain to help him find his father.
But the road is dangerous, and pirates, of course, only look out for themselves. Leo must decide who to trust as he tries to stay alive and save his family, even as he comes to understand that there aren’t many people—human or alien—that he can count on in this brave new universe.
Published: September 16, 2014
Like his fellow lunarnauts—otherwise known as Moonies—living on Moon Base Alpha, twelve-year-old Dashiell Gibson is famous the world over for being one of the first humans to live on the moon.
And he’s bored out of his mind. Kids aren’t allowed on the lunar surface, meaning they’re trapped inside the tiny moon base with next to nothing to occupy their time—and the only other kid Dash’s age spends all his time hooked into virtual reality games.
Then Moon Base Alpha’s top scientist turns up dead. Dash senses there’s foul play afoot, but no one believes him. Everyone agrees Dr. Holtz went onto the lunar surface without his helmet properly affixed, simple as that. But Dr. Holtz was on the verge of an important new discovery, Dash finds out, and it’s a secret that could change everything for the Moonies—a secret someone just might kill to keep…
Lucy and the Rocket Dog
Published: August 15, 2017
Lucy loves space. She loves to gaze up at the stars and bask in space’s bigness and its here, there, and everywhereness. She loves it so much that she built a rocket ship in her backyard, hoping that one day she can use it to explore space herself. The ship is just Prototype I, though, so it’s not ready to carry anyone into orbit yet. Or so she thinks.
Laika doesn’t give much thought to space—she is a dog, after all. The thing that Laika loves the most is Lucy. She loves Lucy so much that, one evening, she wanders into Prototype I looking for her—and is promptly launched into space.
While Laika takes off on an intergalactic adventure, Lucy begins a lifelong scientific quest to bring her dog home. Told from the two friends’ alternating perspectives and, in turns, heartbreaking and hilarious, this tale will win over anyone who has ever loved a pet, or who has looked at the stars and wondered just what might be going on in the here, there, and everywhereness.
My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich
Published: August 27, 2019
Twelve-year-old Ebony-Grace Norfleet has lived with her beloved grandfather Jeremiah in Huntsville, Alabama ever since she was little. As one of the first black engineers to integrate NASA, Jeremiah has nurtured Ebony-Grace’s love for all things outer space and science fiction—especially Star Wars and Star Trek. But in the summer of 1984, when trouble arises with Jeremiah, it’s decided she’ll spend a few weeks with her father in Harlem.
Harlem is an exciting and terrifying place for a sheltered girl from Hunstville, and Ebony-Grace’s first instinct is to retreat into her imagination. But soon 126th Street begins to reveal that it has more in common with her beloved sci-fi adventures than she ever thought possible, and by summer’s end, Ebony-Grace discovers that Harlem has a place for a girl whose eyes are always on the stars.
Published: May 11, 2021
When five members of a middle school marching band are accidentally projected into an alternative universe during a field trip to the NASA headquarters, their fates land in the hands of the Multiverse Allied Council: a group of extraterrestrial delegates responsible for preserving harmony across the multiverse. Then Dev, Isaiah, Tessa, Maeve, and Lewis discover that Earth’s destruction is imminent due to an environmental collapse caused by humans. What can they do, when their most formidable skill is marching in formation? Against all odds, the space cadets fight to navigate the multiverse, save themselves from power-hungry forces eager to destroy them, rescue their families, and fight for the preservation of humankind. But forces far bigger than they ever imagined have insidious plans for the multiverse and its inhabitants . . .
The Jamie Drake Equation
Published: June 26, 2018
How amazing would it be to have a dad who’s an astronaut? To see him go on rocket launches, live in zero gravity, and fly through space like a superhero? Jamie Drake knows. His dad is orbiting Earth in the International Space Station. Jamie thinks it’s cool, and he’s proud of his dad, but he also really misses him. Hanging out at the local observatory one day, Jamie is surprised when he picks up a strange signal on his phone. Could it be aliens? Are they closer to our planet than anyone realizes? With his dad in space, Jamie feels he has no choice but to investigate on his own. But when something goes wrong with his dad’s mission, Jamie is reminded that space is a dangerous place. He decides it’s time to prove that he’s a hero too.
The Countdown Conspiracy
Published: August 1, 2017
Ambassador, you are go for launch in T- minus 5…4…3…2…. Get ready to blast off with this high-action, high-stakes middle grade adventure that’s perfect for fans of Chris Grabenstein and Peter Lerangis!
Miranda Regent can’t believe she was just chosen as one of six kids from around the world to train for the first ever mission to Mars. But as soon as the official announcement is made, she begins receiving anonymous threatening messages…and when the training base is attacked, it looks like Miranda is the intended target. Now the entire mission—and everyone’s lives—are at risk. And Miranda may be the only one who can save them.
Planet Earth Is Blue
Published: May 14, 2019
Twelve-year-old Nova is eagerly awaiting the launch of the space shuttle Challenger–it’s the first time a teacher is going into space, and kids across America will watch the event on live TV in their classrooms. Nova and her big sister, Bridget, share a love of astronomy and the space program. They planned to watch the launch together. But Bridget has disappeared, and Nova is in a new foster home.
While foster families and teachers dismiss Nova as severely autistic and nonverbal, Bridget understands how intelligent and special Nova is, and all that she can’t express. As the liftoff draws closer, Nova’s new foster family and teachers begin to see her potential, and for the first time, she is making friends without Bridget. But every day, she’s counting down to the launch, and to the moment when she’ll see Bridget again. Because Bridget said, “No matter what, I’ll be there. I promise.”
To the Moon
Published: March 20, 2018
What’s more exciting than spaceships and astronauts? How about a spaceship carrying the first astronauts ever to see the moon firsthand–on Christmas!
The year was 1968, and the American people were still reeling from the spacecraft fire that killed the Apollo 1crew a year earlier. On top of that, there were rumors that the Russian cosmonauts were getting ready to fly around the moon. NASA realized that they needed to take a bold step–and that they needed to take it now. They wanted to win the space race against Russia and hold true to President Kennedy’s promise to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. So in a risky move, a few days before Christmas of that year, they sent Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders to the moon!
This book about the exciting and inspiring true story of Apollo 8, the first crewed spaceship to break free of Earth’s orbit and reach the moon, tells the story of these three brave men, the frantic rush to get their rocket ready, and the journey that gave the American people–and the world–a new look at the planet we live on and the corner of space we inhabit.
Filled with the science and training required to put a person into space, and every detail of what it’s like to live in a spaceship for days on end (including what happens when astronauts need to use the bathroom), this book is sure to leave kids clamoring for a spot on the next mission to outer space.
Reaching for the Moon
Published: July 2, 2019
The inspiring autobiography of NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, who helped launch Apollo 11.
As a young girl, Katherine Johnson showed an exceptional aptitude for math. In school, she quickly skipped ahead several grades and was soon studying complex equations with the support of a professor who saw great promise in her. But ability and opportunity did not always go hand in hand. As an African American and a girl growing up in an era of brutal racism and sexism, Katherine faced daily challenges. Still, she lived her life with her father’s words in mind: “You are no better than anyone else, and nobody else is better than you.”
In the early 1950s, Katherine was thrilled to join the organization that would become NASA. She worked on many of NASA’s biggest projects including the Apollo 11 mission that landed the first men on the moon.
Chasing Space: Young Readers Edition
Published: May 23, 2017
Meet Leland Melvin—football star, NASA astronaut, and professional dream chaser.
In this inspiring memoir, adapted from the simultaneous version for adults, young readers will get to learn about Leland Melvin’s remarkable life story, from being drafted by the Detroit Lions to bravely orbiting our planet in the International Space Station to writing songs with will.i.am, working with Serena Williams, and starring in top-rated television shows like The Dog Whisperer, Top Chef, and Child Genius.
With do-it-yourself experiments in the back of the book and sixteen pages of striking full-color photographs, this is the perfect book to inspire young readers.
When the former Detroit Lion’s football career was cut short by an injury, Leland didn’t waste time mourning his broken dream. Instead, he found a new one—something that was completely out of this world.
He joined NASA, braved an injury that nearly left him permanently deaf, and still managed to muster the courage and resolve to travel to space on the shuttle Atlantis to help build the International Space Station. Leland’s problem-solving methods and can-do attitude turned his impossible-seeming dream into reality.
Leland’s story introduces readers to the fascinating creative and scientific challenges he had to deal with in space and will encourage the next generation of can-do scientists to dare to follow their dreams.
There they are: 16 of the best middle grade books about space for kids who love space. Have you read any of these books? Which ones did I miss?
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