Shooting for the Moon: Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon Landing

In an address to Congress on May 25, 1961, John F. Kennedy declared: “I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” A little over 8 years later, his wish was realized on July 20, 1969 when Apollo 11 made its historic landing. This year marks the 50th anniversary of that event, and there is no shortage of books exploring the topic of the moon, rockets, or astronauts. Whether fiction or nonfiction, the following list of books is sure to help you learn about that historic time period and inspire you to shoot for the moon.

To find more books about the moon and the space race, try searching the catalog using a combination of subject terms like “juvenile fiction” for fiction books or “juvenile literature” for nonfiction books along with “moon,” “astronauts,” “space flight,” or other space related terms or people.


Brinkley, Douglas.
American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race (Young Readers’ Edition). 2019 (Nonfiction Chapter Book)
Here the backstory of the American moonshot is reimagined for young readers, telling the story of how this possibility inspired hope for the entire country. Short chapters with black and white photos sprinkled throughout set the stage for readers to explore the America of the 1960s and why the journey to the moon was so impactful and important. This book is perfect for those who want an accessible yet in-depth look at the space race era, and an inset of color photographs, source notes, and a bibliography add to its value. A powerful tribute to this period of history, readers will gain an appreciation for both the hard work and the dreaming that occurred in order to get men to the moon.
[S-Collection S.629.40973 B7717am]

Irvine, Alex and Ben Bishop.
The Far Side of the Moon: The Story of Apollo 11’s Third Man. 2017 (Nonfiction Comic Book)
This comic book style biography of Michael Collins tells the story of how he ended up being a part of the Apollo 11 mission, the training involved, how the rocket worked, and more. The author writes, “[Neil] Armstrong and [Buzz] Aldrin might have walked on the moon, but Michael Collins made sure someone was there to bring them home.” Many people forget about him in the shadow of his more famous teammates, but he played a very important role in the success of the moon landing. Short and accessible, this book also includes a timeline of space exploration and suggested resources to explore.
[S-Collection S.629.454 Ir81f]

Kluger, Jeffrey and Ruby Shamir.
To the Moon! The True Story of the American Heroes on the Apollo 8 Spaceship. 2018 (Nonfiction Chapter Book)
Written in a narrative format from the astronauts’ points of view, this novel immediately immerses readers in the excitement of the 1960s when America was striving to get a spaceship to the moon. It brings to life the story of the 1968 Apollo 8 mission, the first crewed American spaceship to reach and orbit the moon, and shares this important piece of history with young readers. A glossary, black and white photographs, and an index for easy perusal allow readers to take full advantage of this book and go along for the ride on the monumental journey that gave all Americans new perspective on the universe.
[S-Collection S.629.454 K712to]

Pang, Hannah.
The Moon. 2019 (Nonfiction)
Two page sections of information make this illustrated nonfiction book easy to peruse and enticing to examine. There are various topics, ranging from scientific facts, to myths, to the space race and more, providing something for every reader. It includes a glossary of terms as well as a glossary of people, and it is perfect for moon lovers as well as those drawn to fun facts. Readers of all ages will enjoy this quick and easy way to learn unique things about our closest neighbor.
[S-Collection S.523.3 P1931mo]

Robbins, Dean.
Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing. 2017 (Picture Book Biography)
Cartoon-like illustrations, sometimes in almost comic book-like panels, tell the story of Margaret Hamilton. Her first love was math, and after discovering computers, she taught herself to write code. Many years and a lot of hard work later, she became the director of software programming for NASA’s Project Apollo, and readers excitedly learn how her code helped the Eagle Lunar Module land safely on the moon. Her story will inspire girls to do whatever they want and all readers to question what they see and know in order to find solutions. An author’s note, bibliography, additional reading suggestions, and real pictures of Margaret add to the power of this picture book.
[S-Collection Q. SB. H2191r]

Salas, Laura Purdie.
If You Were the Moon. 2017 (Nonfiction Picture Book)
What would you do if you were the moon? This beautifully illustrated picture book explains to readers what the moon does in an accessible dual narrative: a simple, poetic sentence on one page followed by a clear, informative explanation on the other. For example, the moon spins like “a twilight ballerina,” and the next page explains how it spins on its axis and orbits the Earth. Both soothing and enlightening, this is the perfect introduction to the moon for young readers. A glossary and further reading are included at the end for extended learning opportunities.
[S-Collection Q. S.523.3 Sa315if]

Slade, Suzanne.
Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon. 2018 (Nonfiction Prose Picture Book)
America’s journey to get to the moon is related here in accessible prose, with concise, powerful language telling the tale. Realistic, beautifully created illustrations as well as historical photographs add a layer of storytelling, and the blend of narrative and facts works wonderfully. With quotes from the time period to provide an even greater authentic feel and split into chapters so that readers can explore just a part of the journey if they wish, this informational book is a triumph in sharing the story of the missions to get to the moon.
[S-Collection Q. S.629.454 Sl124co]

Be sure to check out Daring Dozen: The Twelve Who Walked on the Moon, also by Suzanne Slade, which you can find in the Center for Children’s Books (S.629.454 Sl124da).


Baratz-Logsted, Lauren.
I Love You, Michael Collins. 2017 (Middle Grade Historical Fiction Novel)
It’s 1969, and when Mamie’s class is assigned the project of writing a letter to an astronaut, she is the only one who chooses to write to Michael Collins, the one who has to stay with the ship. Told in letter format, Mamie shares her thoughts and feelings with Michael, continuing to write to him throughout the summer. As her family falls apart, Mamie and her best friend and neighbor Buster research the Apollo 11 mission while she contemplates what friendship, loyalty, and growing up means. This coming of age novel explores important themes and is sure to resonate with readers.
[S-Collection S. B2319i]

Gibbs, Stuart.
Space Case (Moon Base Alpha). 2014 (Middle Grade Novel)
Twelve-year-old Dash is one of the first humans to live on the moon at Moon Base Alpha thanks to his lunar geologist mom and mining specialist dad, but he’s quick to assure readers that living in space is not all it’s cracked up to be – just take the toilets for example. Dash is bored because of all the restrictions he has on the base, but he gets more than he bargains for when the top scientist Dr. Holtz turns up dead. Because of a conversation overheard in the bathroom, he knows that Dr. Holtz was about to reveal an important breakthrough in his research that could change everything, but no one but Dash thinks there was foul play. It’s up to him to solve the mystery, and this adventurous novel sprinkled with excerpts from The Official Residents’ Guide to Moon Base Alpha is sure to keep readers laughing and thinking as they follow Dash in his adventures.
[S-Collection S. G35512spa]

Be sure to check out the sequels, Spaced Out (S. G35512s) and Waste of Space (S. G35512w), also found in the S-Collection!

Kuhlmann, Torben.
Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the Moon. 2016 (Fiction Picture Book)
With beautifully illustrated, detailed, full-page, artistic images, Kuhlmann makes the story of a mouse who dreams of going to the moon come to life. Readers immerse themselves in this tale of a mouse’s escapades trying to create a rocket and learning to fly, rooting for him from the beginning. A whimsical narration, this version of the moon landing claims that we humans learned how to make a rocket from the clever mouse’s designs, but the end includes an informational short history of space travel. Readers of all ages will enjoy this inspiring take on shooting for the moon.
[S-Collection Q. S. K9553a]

School Library Journal

Universe of Stories: Middle-School

School Library Journal has compiled a list of playlists for summer listening, and the middle school list in particular includes some great episodes featuring the moon in honor of the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. It includes:
• Brains On: Waves, Wind, Tides and Moon
• Why Do We Sometimes See the Moon During the Day?
• 25th May 1961: Kennedy Announces Plan for Manned Moon Landing
• Is the Moon Made of Cheese?
• 20th July 1969: Apollo Lands on the Moon
• And more!

Journeying Into Space

Who doesn’t love looking up at the sky and imagining what exists beyond what the eye can see? Our universe is full of amazing phenomena, from the planets in the Solar System, to shooting stars, black holes, meteors, dark matter, and more. The Milky Way Galaxy is 13.6 billion years old with more than a hundred billions stars, so there’s a lot for astronauts and space ships to explore. To join them on a trip through space and time, go through the list of books below to see what you can discover!

To find more books that take you on an adventure out of this world, try searching the catalog using a combination of subject terms like “juvenile fiction” for fiction books or “juvenile literature” for nonfiction books along with “outer space,” “extraterrestrial beings,” “space ships,” or “astronauts.”

Ball, Nate.
Let’s Investigate with Nate: The Solar System. 2017. (Nonfiction: picture book)
Nate takes kid investigators Felix, Wendy, Braden, and Rosa on the adventure of a lifetime as they travel through the Solar System in a race against time to figure out if Pluto is a planet or not. The varying forms of text – speech bubbles, the narrator, and entries from Braden’s Journal – will engage children and keep them turning the pages. Filled with facts about space, readers will learn along with the characters and will be asking for another adventure with Nate!
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. S.523.2 B2101s]

Buckingham, Will.
Lucy and the Rocket Dog. 2017. (Fiction: chapter book)
Lucy is fascinated by space, and Laika, her dog, is fascinated by Lucy. Told in their alternating perspectives, this is the story of how Laika accidentally wanders into Prototype I – the rocket Lucy has built – and is launched into space! What follows is Lucy’s lifelong journey trying to bring Laika home that is full of love, wonder, and exploration.
[SSHEL S-Collection S. B8561l]

Englert, Christoph.
Destination: Space. 2016. (Nonfiction: picture book)
With beautiful illustrations and accessible explanations, readers will want to explore this book in depth. The two-page spreads about various topics in space are made for perusing, and the question and answer format is a natural way for kids to learn. Children and adults alike will find something fascinating that captures their attention, makes them take a second look, and inspires further research.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. S.520 En35d]

Hawking, Lucy & Steven.
George’s Secret Key to the Universe. 2007. (Fiction: chapter book)
In this action packed novel from father-daughter duo Lucy and Steven Hawking, George’s pet pig has escaped into the abandoned yard next door, and much to his surprise, he finds new neighbors! A scientist named Eric has moved in with his daughter Annie, and soon they’re exploring the universe with the help of supercomputer Cosmos on a crazy adventure through space while racing to protect the world. Readers will enjoy the scientific explanations interspersed throughout the text along with the creative illustrations and color photographs of space phenomena.
[SSHEL S-Collection S.H313g]

Kelly, Mark.
Astrotwins: Project Blastoff (Astrotwins #1). 2015. (Fiction: chapter book)
Loosely based on the childhood of retired astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly, this is the story of how one summer, the twins are in trouble as usual and get sent to their grandpa’s house as a punishment. With nothing to do, Grandpa suggests they build a go-kart, but Mark and Scott decide to build a rocket instead. Amidst the middle-school drama and dreams of being an astronaut, readers will connect with the characters and explore outer space as well as friendship.
[SSHEL S-Collection S. K2978a]

Melvin, Leland.
Chasing Space (Young Readers’ Edition). 2017. (Autobiography)
In this moving memoir, Leland Melvin shares with readers how he has spent his life chasing his dreams – even following them to outer space. When an injury cut his time as a professional football player with the Detroit Lions short, Leland didn’t give up, and instead became an astronaut who helped build the International Space Station. With hope, photos, experiments to try at home, inspiration, and adventure galore, readers are sure to race through this book and start chasing dreams of their own.
[SSHEL S-Collection SB. M5312m]

Pittman, Eddie.
Red’s Planet (Red’s Planet #1). 2016. (Fiction: graphic novel)
Red is a 10-year-old orphan who yearns to get away from her foster family, but she doesn’t expect to be kidnapped by a UFO! Soon she’s definitely far, far away from Earth and the ship she is on has crash landed on a small deserted planet. Along with Red, readers will meet the cast of misfit aliens who live there as she tries to survive this crazy new world and maybe find a new family without trying.
[SSHEL S-Collection S.741.5973 P6871r]

Shetterly, Margot Lee.
Hidden Figures: The Untold True Story of Four African-American Women Who Helped Launch Our Nation Into Space (Young Readers’ Edition). 2016. (Nonfiction: chapter book)
A companion to the movie of the same name, this book helps bring to life and light the amazing accomplishments of the female mathematicians that helped men get to space. Called human computers, Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden were just four of the women at NASA who helped perform the calculations for the launch of astronaut John Glenn. In the race to get to space, these women defied all the odds placed against them because of gender, race, and status, and readers will love learning about their fight for well-deserved recognition.
[SSHEL S-Collection S.510.92520973 L515h]

Siy, Alexandra.
Voyager’s Greatest Hits: The Epic Trek to Interstellar Space. 2017. (Nonfiction: chapter book)
Learn all about the space probes Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 in this nonfiction medley of fact, narrative, and photographs that will have readers wishing for more. The twin probes went on a mission to travel to Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune in order to take pictures and gather other data to send back to Earth, but they didn’t stop there. Now on a journey into interstellar space, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 both have a copy of a record titled “The Sounds of Earth” – just in case they need to communicate with other (possibly alien!) life forms.
[SSHEL S-Collection S.523.4 Si99v]

Underwood, Deborah.
Interstellar Cinderella. 2015. (fairy tale picture book)
In this rhyming, rollicking, rocket-full retelling, Cinderella is an aspiring mechanic once upon a planetoid. With her trusty sidekick Murgatroyd the robot mouse, her fairy godrobot, and her socket wrench in her pocket, Cinderella is ready for anything. Readers will love the twists in this traditional tale and will be captivated by the out-of-this-world illustrations and message that you can do whatever you set your mind to.
[SSHEL S-Collection Q. S.398.2 Un25i]