Book Title: How We Got to the Moon
Book Author and Illustrator: John Rocco
Published Date: 2020
Why I Picked This Book
My wife and I often take our daughter to the local public library. Though not a relatively large library, it has quite the selection of children’s books on STEM topics (go youth librarian!). I was already looking for space-themed books since my daughter has been expressing interest since watching Hidden Figures recently (by the way, I highly recommend the movie and the book, both available on Amazon).
The other reasons the book stood out: the size of the book (an information-packed 256 pages) and the highly visual approach taken by the author/illustrator. The book is filled with illustrations, which you will see throughout this book review. Starting with the book cover (seen above).
This adds up to the book being very kid-friendly, accessible, and related to a topic kids enjoy learning about, particularly at young ages (6-10).
The book covers the entire range of events required for astronauts to originally reach the moon. You can get a good idea by looking at the table of contents:
Focus on People/Careers
I find that my kid enjoys learning about the different possibilities for what she can do when she grows up. It’s important to give her concrete examples of what it means to be a scientist, engineer, or even non-STEM career paths. As a kid, I did not even know the concept of an engineer. And only vaguely had an idea of what scientists did. How We Got to the Moon does a great job spotlighting specific people who contributed to the lunar landing mission, and explaining the importance of his/her role.
Focus on Problem Solving
I appreciate Rocco’s keeping the reader’s attention on the problem solving required to successfully land on the moon. He accomplished this by presenting several parts of the book as a problem/solution dynamic that works well to present readers with the dilemmas people faced, and then clearly explaining the steps required to solve the problem.
A children’s author, especially a non-fiction author, needs to take care to use language children can understand, while at the same time not “dumbing” down the material. Rocco does a great job walking this line.
For really young kids, they may take more interest in the wonderful pictures. But the book scales well for children of all ages. It is easy to follow for child my age (eight years old currently), but could easily be a very informative, quick-reference for someone several years older. In that regard, this book could serve as an introductory book that leads a space-interested child to explore more in-depth material.
The book is somewhat expensive (retails at regular price of ~$30), relative to many other children’s books. But books with high-quality production, large number of pages, and in-depth reference information often run more than other books. So, it’s not immediately offputting solely due to price. But I could understand someone wanting to get this from the library (like we did) rather than purchase.
That said, I’ve seen the book on sale locally and online for as little as $17. And that’s a good price point for a gift (e.g., niece/nephew), Particularly someone who is very much into space.
I’d suggest checking the local library first if for your own child, or local bookstores and/or Amazon if purchasing for someone outside of your immediate family.