Monday, July 20, 2009

Books to Celebrate Today--The First Men on the Moon!

Such a great celebration--40 years since we had men land on the moon. No matter how long it's been, it is still an amazing story. So much to celebrate about the day. As with any "event", there are many many books that tie into the first men on the moon. I am thrilled with the quality of so many of the books out on this topic. I think that the books will really invite our children to be part of this day in a way that makes it as exciting as it is to those of us who actually remember it.

I've shared two of these books before but thought that today was a great day to rerun the reviews.

ONE GIANT LEAP This book tells about the first trip to the moon from the time the Eagle took off to the time the astronauts landed. The book captures the power of the trip and the emotions of the astronauts well.

Mike Wimmer's illustrations are amazing. Most are dark as the moon would have looked when they landed. The details show so many things about the trip and the feel of the illustrations matches the feel of the world when the astronauts stepped out on the moon.

The language in the book is one that makes it a perfect read aloud. Yesterday, I read it to 3rd, 4th and 5th grade classes and they were glued. Not much of a sound from any group that I read it to. And kids this age take space travel for granted. But somehow the author and illustrator helped them relive the excitement of the moment in this book.

After reading this aloud to 4th and 5th graders, many of the kids pulled out a laptop and quickly found the original film of the moon landing on the internet. They watched and were excited to see what they had just read about and to hear Neil Armstrong's actual voice saying, "One small step for man. One giant leap for mankind." (On a side note, kids had heard spinoffs of this famous quote on Spongebob and other shows and had no idea what the origin of the quote was...) Within minutes they found information on Neil Armstrong, clips of the trip, information on more recent space travel news.

It isn't often that a nonfiction picture book can capture history so clearly and so powerfully. Often, I read aloud a picture book and kids learn but this one actually allows the children who take space travel for granted, to feel the excitement and thrill of the day. For the astronauts who lived it and for the world who watched.

I am also excited about LOOK TO THE STARS by Buzz Aldrin to my collection. As you can tell, I am kind of hooked on the 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11. This is a great way to celebrate the flight. Astonaut, Buzz Aldrin starts with an introduction inviting readers to look at the history of flight. On each 2 page spread of the book, Aldrin looks at one piece of the timeline that led us to space travel and looks ahead to where we might go next. He highlights important times in the history of flight and space travel and gives interesting information with each. The book is definitely one that kids can read and follow. The end of the book includes an extensive timeline of important dates including events from the year 1543 through 2010. An exciting celebration of the discoveries that led us to current missions in space. An added bonus in this book are the end papers--they are filled with great quotes about flight by those who are known for their contributions. A great book!

ONE SMALL STEP: CELEBRATING THE FIRST MEN ON THE MOON may end up being a favorite with the kids. This book is put together in the form of a scrapbook. Each spread focuses on one piece of the history of space travel. Photos, sketches, diagrams, and text work together to pull a lot of information into one book. I loved seeing so many photos and captions that explain them. I loved the way that this book captures Launch Day (July 16) with photos of President Johnson, the astronauts and the people in the control room. There are lots of invitations for readers to lift the flaps to learn more about certain topics. My personal favorite page is the one that celebrates the three astronauts and that shares info and photos of the actual spacesuit.

I have always thought it was pretty cool to live in Ohio--home of Neil Armstrong, John Glenn and so many other great astronauts. I think this new set of books is a great way to celebrate this anniversary but one that I think we will all be able to learn from for years to come. These books won't be popular only because of the anniversary. These books will be well-read because they give great insights into the history of this day and more.

There are also so many great sites to celebrate today. "We Choose the Moon" is one of my favorites. We can also watch the landing on Youtube. Love that!

I also started to follow Astronaut Mark Palansky on Twitter. Love that they can tweet from space. That is amazing to me.

Enjoy the day!


  1. The documentary In the Shadow of the Moon is also a great connection to the books you name. It is interviews with several of the astronauts involved in the first Apollos.

  2. I've collected an assortment of books related to Apollo, including all those you mentioned, but one I particularly like is Brian Floca's Moonwalk. He has a fabulous website with an accumulation of information, which he collected during the 10 years spent writing the book. It will be a "mentor text" for me this year since the writing is so lyrical. Illustrations are fabulous, too.


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