When introducing a child to astronomy, having a well written, informative, and imagination-inspiring book (or two) on hand can go a long way in the educational process. Astronomy books make for great reading on cloudy or subzero nights, and can serve as invaluable reference on observing nights with your family.
Orion's Staff has put together a top ten list of favorite titles that are great for children just starting to learn about the sky. But we've also thrown several titles with parents in mind.
Here are our favorite books to have on hand while learning the night sky.
1. Randy Riley's Big Hit, written and Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen.
Get young children thinking about the night sky with this adventurous story about Riley and his work to deflect an asteroid back out into Space.
Age Level: Picture book, great for young kids up to 8 years of age.
2. A Child's Introduction to the Night Sky, written by Michael Driscoll, illustrated by Meredith Hamilton.
Children will love the beautiful illustrations and wealth of information about the night sky this book has to offer in its 92 pages of colorful, fact-packed pages. The best part about this book, though, is that parents will indefinitely learn something too. A recipient of the Parent's Choice Award, A Child's Introduction of the Night Sky comes with a star wheel and glow in the dark stickers of the solar system.
Age Level: Young children & elementary school students.
3. Find the Constellations by H.A. Rey (Curious George author)
A classic children's book with wonderful illustrations that will nurture their curiosity about the night sky.
Age Level: 8 - 12
4. Discover the Stars, by former long-time editor of Astronomy Magazine, by Richard Berry.
A good beginner book with an observing orientation, with thorough coverage of the sky, and charts on every page to accompany the text.
Age Level: Aimed more at beginning adults than kids.
5. The Backyard Astronomer's Guide, by Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer.
A complete guide to getting started in amateur astronomy, from the equipment you'll need, to the celestial panorama and advanced tips.
Age Level: Teens & up.
6. Turn Left at Orion: Hundreds of Night Sky Objects to See in a Home Telescope - and How to Find Them, by Guy Consolmagno and Dan M. Davis.
This excellent reference book was designed for use with Dobsonian telescopes, and is one of the most popular observing books of all time. One object per spread layout makes for clear and concise learning. An excellent reference, geared more towards adults or parents than children.
Age Level: Beginning adults and their children.
7. The Stars: A New Way to See Them by H.A. Rey (Curious George author)
Not just for children! The Stars is another classic to add to your collection, and a fantastic beginning astronomer's guide to the night sky. It's filled with star charts, constellation guides and details about observing seasons and the movement of objects in the sky.
Age Level: 12 and up.
8. Discover: Astronomy (Usborne Discovery) by Rachel Firth
Practical advice about how to find stars, constellations, planets, features of the Moon, this introductory book is packed with interesting facts and is a great one for the classroom. It's a perfect companion to a pair of binoculars.
Age Level: 7 and up
9. NightWatch: A Practical Guide to Viewing the Universe by Terence Dickinson
Written by the renowned Terence Dickinson, this was the world's top selling stargazing guide for the past twenty years, complete with star charts for both the northern and southern hemispheres. The fourth edition boasts a complete update of the equipment section, with guides to computerized telescopes, as well as an enlarged and updated photography section.
Age Level: Young adults to Adult.
10. Observer's Handbook 2014, by The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Edited by David M.F. Chapman
Compiled by an experienced staff of more than 60 professional astronomers of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, the Observer's Handbook of 2014 is THE reference book for any serious observer. It will tell you exactly what will be in the sky and when, from sunrise and sunset times to lunar phases, eclipses, solar transits, occultation's, and much, much more. 352 pages of meticulously edited and updated sky events.
Age Level: Adults, serious observers, and parents of beginners who want to help teach.