How far does the moon appear to you? The distance changes within a month, but it's an average of 240,000 miles, enough that more than 400,000 American men and women took almost a decade to figure out how to send astronauts back and forth. The four books here show how many challenges – including the basic laws of gravity – were involved and how much more to explore.
Apollo 8: The mission that changed everything
By Martin W. Sandler. Age 10 and older
When President John F. Kennedy pledged the United States to put a man on the moon in the late 1960s, the Americans were determined to win the space race against the Soviet Union. In this well-researched book, Martin Sandler focuses on the Apollo 8 space flight of December 1968, in which three astronauts attempted to go beyond Earth's orbit to orbit the Moon. In addition to the historical background, Sandler conveys a sense of what it was like to be in the capsule for more than six days. For starters, the flight simulators did not really prepare them for the launch of the Saturn V rocket. Astronaut Bill Anders said, "I felt like a rat in the throat of a giant terrier." And when the crew's photos and TV shows brought their findings to American homes, this book fulfills a similar mission for readers born decades later ,
Countdown: 2979 days to the moon
By Suzanne Slade Illustrated by Thomas Gonzalez. 10 to 14 years
In "Countdown", Suzanne Slade and Thomas Gonzalez celebrate the teamwork with which the first men were taken to the lunar surface and back in the summer of 1969. In addition to images that manage to be both realistic and dreamlike, Slade clearly illustrates the technical goals ("design, build and test four new craftsmanship … that must work together flawlessly") as well as the emotional ups and downs the team experienced. And though the story is full of danger and courage, Slade and Gonzalez also create lighter moments, such as when the astronauts hear music from a hovering tape recorder.
To the moon and back: My Apollo 11 adventure
By Buzz Aldrin with Marianne J. Dyson. Age 8 to 12.
In November 1966, Buzz Aldrin went into space for the first time. Less than three years later, he and Neil Armstrong were the first two humans to enter the moon. In addition to Aldrin's memories of these adventures, this book contains many photos and pop-up models of devices such as the Saturn V rocket. The book's pullout cards discuss these exciting years from the perspective of Aldrin's daughter. She was not yet a teenager, and she and her two brothers had to stay up late and see their dad's moon on one of the first color TVs in their neighborhood.
Space: The definitive visual catalog of the universe
By Sean Callery and Miranda Smith. Age 8 to 12.
Through photographs and other images, this beautiful, informative book reveals all sorts of things we can not see with our own limited view. For example, the color of stars. Above a photograph taken with the Hubble telescope, the authors explain how the color of a star (red, white, yellow, orange or blue) indicates its surface temperature. This book contains a universe of discoveries – from our own solar system to the dark matter that astrophysicists study from outside.