Kids in Space: 5 Great Books for Younger Middle Grade Readers - B&N Reads (2023)

Middle Grade Fiction

By Charlottetaylor/April 15, 2015at12:00 pm

Kids in Space: 5 Great Books for Younger Middle Grade Readers - B&N Reads (1)
It’s a great time to be a young science fiction fan; although magic and fantasy have long dominated the bookstore shelves, adventures in spaceare showing up more and more! And why not—space can be just as fantastically exciting, dangerous, and beautiful a place as any fantasy world.
Here’s a list of fivegreat books (plus onesequel) about kids in space that are sure to captivate younger middle grade readers, ages 9 to 11.

The Green Book

Paperback$7.99

The Green Book

Jill Paton Walsh, Lloyd Bloom

In Stock Online

Paperback$7.99

The Green Book, by Jill Paton Walsh
This is an older book, but it is still the best one I can think of for introducing kids to the idea of colonizing new worlds. It’s also a lovely one to read out loud to younger middle grade readers (the sort that’s a pleasure for both the kids and the one doing the reading!).
Father, Joe, Sarah, and Pattie, and other families are leaving a dying Earth on one of the last escape ships, headed for a planet they know nothing about. Pattie’s so young that she won’t remember Earth. But being the youngest colonist, she gets to name the new planet—”Shine,” she calls it, because all the plant life sparkles like glass. But how can they build with mineral-laden wood they can’t saw? How will they survive, when their rabbits die from eating the glassy grass? And then, when they meet alien beings, how will they co-exist?
Each colonist was allowed to bring just one book, and Pattie’s book, the “green book” of the title, becomes the most important. Its pages are blank, and her older siblings had mocked her choice. But in the end it’s this book that tells the new story the colonists are creating.

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The Green Book, by Jill Paton Walsh
This is an older book, but it is still the best one I can think of for introducing kids to the idea of colonizing new worlds. It’s also a lovely one to read out loud to younger middle grade readers (the sort that’s a pleasure for both the kids and the one doing the reading!).
Father, Joe, Sarah, and Pattie, and other families are leaving a dying Earth on one of the last escape ships, headed for a planet they know nothing about. Pattie’s so young that she won’t remember Earth. But being the youngest colonist, she gets to name the new planet—”Shine,” she calls it, because all the plant life sparkles like glass. But how can they build with mineral-laden wood they can’t saw? How will they survive, when their rabbits die from eating the glassy grass? And then, when they meet alien beings, how will they co-exist?
Each colonist was allowed to bring just one book, and Pattie’s book, the “green book” of the title, becomes the most important. Its pages are blank, and her older siblings had mocked her choice. But in the end it’s this book that tells the new story the colonists are creating.

Pi in the Sky

Paperback$8.99

Pi in the Sky

Wendy Mass

In Stock Online

Paperback$8.99

Pi in the Sky, by Wendy Mass
Joss’s father is Supreme Overlord of the Universe, and his big brothers have important jobs in the Realms of the Cosmos.Joss, however, delivers cosmic pies, and feels pretty non-essential and pretty bored. Then his life is shattered when Annika, a girl from Earth, sees the Realms through a telescope. Because sentient planet dwellers must be kept ignorant, the whole world must be destroyed. But Annika escapes Earth’s destruction by traveling through space time to Joss’s door. Together they struggle to bring Earth back into being, recreating its cosmic soup from scratch…
This is a whimsical one, good for younger readers who like their planetary journeys on the light side, with more focus on friendship than battles in space! The world of the Realms is part utopian fantasy, part sci-fi/fantasy metaphor for the workings of the universe (with science built explicitly into the narrative, adding educational value!). The story, too, is a hybrid, mixing the desperate mission to save Earth with an exploration of the scientific underpinnings of planetary creation. Fortunately, Annika’s plight and the shock waves of her arrival in the Realms provide a strong framework for the fantastical. She’s a determined fighter, who will appeal lots to young readers.

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Pi in the Sky, by Wendy Mass
Joss’s father is Supreme Overlord of the Universe, and his big brothers have important jobs in the Realms of the Cosmos.Joss, however, delivers cosmic pies, and feels pretty non-essential and pretty bored. Then his life is shattered when Annika, a girl from Earth, sees the Realms through a telescope. Because sentient planet dwellers must be kept ignorant, the whole world must be destroyed. But Annika escapes Earth’s destruction by traveling through space time to Joss’s door. Together they struggle to bring Earth back into being, recreating its cosmic soup from scratch…
This is a whimsical one, good for younger readers who like their planetary journeys on the light side, with more focus on friendship than battles in space! The world of the Realms is part utopian fantasy, part sci-fi/fantasy metaphor for the workings of the universe (with science built explicitly into the narrative, adding educational value!). The story, too, is a hybrid, mixing the desperate mission to save Earth with an exploration of the scientific underpinnings of planetary creation. Fortunately, Annika’s plight and the shock waves of her arrival in the Realms provide a strong framework for the fantastical. She’s a determined fighter, who will appeal lots to young readers.

Starbounders

Hardcover$16.99

Starbounders

Adam Jay Epstein, David McClellan, Andrew Jacobson

Hardcover$16.99

Starbounders, by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson
This is fun sci-fi for the kid who likes fantasy (there’s not much hard science here) served up with lots (and lots!) of action and adventure.
Ordinary people don’t know that there’s a secret group of space-jumping, alien-fighting Starbounders representing humanity out there in a crowded galaxy. Zachary’s always known—his family has been Starbounders for generations, and now it’s his turn to enter the secret Starbounder academy. But things don’t go well; in just a few days Zachary and two new friends (a fierce girland an alien boy) are punished with clean-up duty on an old space freighter. Things turn exciting when the freighter is hijacked by escaping interstellar prisoners.Stranded on an inhospitable desert world, Zachary and his friends are taken as hostages by one of the prisoners (a sort of newt-like alien). And then on top of all that the kids must foil the evil alien plot to destroy Earth itself!
Zachary’s adventures foiling plots and overcoming obstacles continue, ina sequel, Rebellion, that is just as full of imaginativetechnology and aliens both friendly and hostile.

(Video) The Magic of Middle Grade Books | Reedsy Live

Starbounders, by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson
This is fun sci-fi for the kid who likes fantasy (there’s not much hard science here) served up with lots (and lots!) of action and adventure.
Ordinary people don’t know that there’s a secret group of space-jumping, alien-fighting Starbounders representing humanity out there in a crowded galaxy. Zachary’s always known—his family has been Starbounders for generations, and now it’s his turn to enter the secret Starbounder academy. But things don’t go well; in just a few days Zachary and two new friends (a fierce girland an alien boy) are punished with clean-up duty on an old space freighter. Things turn exciting when the freighter is hijacked by escaping interstellar prisoners.Stranded on an inhospitable desert world, Zachary and his friends are taken as hostages by one of the prisoners (a sort of newt-like alien). And then on top of all that the kids must foil the evil alien plot to destroy Earth itself!
Zachary’s adventures foiling plots and overcoming obstacles continue, ina sequel, Rebellion, that is just as full of imaginativetechnology and aliens both friendly and hostile.

Galaxy Games: The Challengers

Hardcover$15.95

Galaxy Games: The Challengers

Greg Fishbone

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Hardcover$15.95

Galaxy Games: The Challengers, by Greg R. Fishbone
This is one for kids who like lots of humor with their aliens!
Tyler Sato is an ordinary Japanese American kid.“Ty Sato” also happens to be the name of an alien spacecraft headed toward Earth, piloted by an alien girl named M’Frozza (more tentacles than a squid, more slime than a slug, but very friendly once you get to know her). M’Frozza’s arrival on Earth forces humanity into an interplanetary contest—the Galaxy Games, in which kids compete against each other to resolve interplanetary conflicts. Ty, linked to the space craft by the coincidence of its name, is transformed by the media into the leader of Earth’s team of quirky kids. But without even a chance to study the rule book, Ty and his teammates are whisked to the moon, to play for Earth’s future in a game of Tic-tac-toe against hostile aliens who are messing with the rules something fierce.

Galaxy Games: The Challengers, by Greg R. Fishbone
This is one for kids who like lots of humor with their aliens!
Tyler Sato is an ordinary Japanese American kid.“Ty Sato” also happens to be the name of an alien spacecraft headed toward Earth, piloted by an alien girl named M’Frozza (more tentacles than a squid, more slime than a slug, but very friendly once you get to know her). M’Frozza’s arrival on Earth forces humanity into an interplanetary contest—the Galaxy Games, in which kids compete against each other to resolve interplanetary conflicts. Ty, linked to the space craft by the coincidence of its name, is transformed by the media into the leader of Earth’s team of quirky kids. But without even a chance to study the rule book, Ty and his teammates are whisked to the moon, to play for Earth’s future in a game of Tic-tac-toe against hostile aliens who are messing with the rules something fierce.

Cosmic

Paperback$6.99

Cosmic

Frank Cottrell Boyce

In Stock Online

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Paperback$6.99

Cosmic, by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Cosmic is space travel for kids who don’t think they like sci-fi! It all begins with eleven-year-old Liam confessing to his parents that instead of being on a school field trip, he’s actually out in space, where things have gone wrong. Now, for some background here: Liam’s very tall for an eleven-year old, and he’s started shaving. He gets some flak about this, but there are advantages. He can go on any amusement park ride he wants to, for one thing, but more importantly, he’s able to pass as a Dad, and win the chance to go on the trip of a lifetime, open only to four dads, and four kids. So Liam convinces his friend Florida to play the part of his daughter, and they are whisked off to China, where an actual rocket ship is waiting to take them into space. To Liam’s dismay, only the kids are going to be on board. But the program director agrees to let one dad go too, and during the training that follows, Liam must prove that he’s the best “dad” for the job. Once he’s out in space, he’s going to have to prove it all over again when things go wrong, and it is up to him to bring the kids safely home. It’s a lot for an eleven-year-old to handle, and Liam, even though he’s big, is still a kid; enthusiastic, anxious, and caring. Even with the help of his handy reference book, “Talk to Your Teen,” (quotes from this are included, and made me chuckle), it’s hard for Liam to figure out his new role.
Both an exciting adventure, and a powerful character-driven story, Cosmic is memorable and gripping. The journey into space, although technically possible, is so unlikely that it counts as science fictional to me, but those who normally eschew space travel books shouldn’t let that bias them against this book; they should just let themselves enjoy this bighearted story.
What’s your favorite middle grade book about space travel?

Cosmic, by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Cosmic is space travel for kids who don’t think they like sci-fi! It all begins with eleven-year-old Liam confessing to his parents that instead of being on a school field trip, he’s actually out in space, where things have gone wrong. Now, for some background here: Liam’s very tall for an eleven-year old, and he’s started shaving. He gets some flak about this, but there are advantages. He can go on any amusement park ride he wants to, for one thing, but more importantly, he’s able to pass as a Dad, and win the chance to go on the trip of a lifetime, open only to four dads, and four kids. So Liam convinces his friend Florida to play the part of his daughter, and they are whisked off to China, where an actual rocket ship is waiting to take them into space. To Liam’s dismay, only the kids are going to be on board. But the program director agrees to let one dad go too, and during the training that follows, Liam must prove that he’s the best “dad” for the job. Once he’s out in space, he’s going to have to prove it all over again when things go wrong, and it is up to him to bring the kids safely home. It’s a lot for an eleven-year-old to handle, and Liam, even though he’s big, is still a kid; enthusiastic, anxious, and caring. Even with the help of his handy reference book, “Talk to Your Teen,” (quotes from this are included, and made me chuckle), it’s hard for Liam to figure out his new role.
Both an exciting adventure, and a powerful character-driven story, Cosmic is memorable and gripping. The journey into space, although technically possible, is so unlikely that it counts as science fictional to me, but those who normally eschew space travel books shouldn’t let that bias them against this book; they should just let themselves enjoy this bighearted story.
What’s your favorite middle grade book about space travel?

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