Celebrate World Space Week with a book!

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Ingenium – Canada's Museums of Science and Technology
Book reviewer Kim Reynolds shows off some of her favourite picks next to the Canadarm at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum.

World Space Week is celebrated each year from October 4 to 10. This year’s theme is “Space Unites the World” which truly reflects one of humanity’s greatest achievements — international cooperation in space. Orbiting our planet at any given time is a team of highly-trained astronauts from several different countries, living and working together on the International Space Station. Astronauts build a bond of kinship through their shared experiences that include learning about each other’s languages and cultures so they can coexist harmoniously.

What does this have to do with a book list? Well, astronauts work hard but they also acknowledge the importance of setting aside time to feed their souls. They engage in many pursuits — from music to photography — and many choose to lose themselves in a good book.

Imagine yourself floating in the cupola, staring out at the vastness of space, admiring the beauty of our planet, and opening the pages of a new adventure. A shared love of reading is another way to unite the world!

In honour of World Space Week, the Ingenium Channel has selected a few space-themed books to share with you. We also want to hear from you! Share your favourite book with the #IngeniumChannel — connect with us @CanadaAviation (on Twitter) or @AvSpaceMuseum (on Facebook).

The Magic School Bus: Lost in the Solar System

Magic School Bus: Lost in the Solar System

Author: Joanna Cole

Illustrator: Bruce Degen

As a student teacher, my favourite placement was a Grade 4 classroom where the teacher built an entire program around this book. The students used it as a research tool to create a project about a planet. But beyond that, the teacher integrated it into every other lesson — language, math, science, history, all the arts and even physical education where we played a games tweaked to incorporate planet names and other information. The class was thoroughly engaged and it remains an inspirational moment for me, almost 25 years later!

Available from Amazon and Indigo.

Olga: We're Out of Here!

Olga: We're Out of Here!

Author and Illustrator: Elise Gravel

Elise Gravel lives and works in Montreal, but her books have spread across the globe along with her enchanting characters —Olga being one of the most endearing of all. How can you not like a book that starts with the lines, “I’ve been thinking about moving to another planet. I’m half serious about it too.”? And that sparks Olga’s adventure into space – or does it? Seriously, who just runs off into space alone and uninformed? Well, certainly not Olga. If you’re Olga, you do first what Olga does best — research! Olga loves research and she approaches her journey from a very scientific mindset, without losing the spirit of imagination. This book keeps a lively pace animated by Gravel’s very special brand of art; her drawings simply exude personality! One last word on this book…Olga’s trip takes an unexpected twist. But you’ll have to read it to find out!

Available from Amazon and Indigo.

Go for Liftoff!

Go for Liftoff! How to Train Like an Astronaut

Author: Dr. Dave Williams and Loredana Cunti

Illustrator: Theo Krynauw

If you dream of being an astronaut, who better to ask your how-to questions than an actual astronaut? Former Canadian Astronaut, Dr. Dave Williams (a.k.a. Dr. Dave), takes readers on the journey from dreaming of space, through testing, training, selection, (to more training!) on the voyage of a lifetime.

The book is filled with photos of Dr. Dave and his many astronaut colleagues, doing everything from walking underwater to floating in microgravity. The inclusion of fun illustrations make the reader feel like they are training right alongside him.

One of my favourite parts of this book is that Dr. Dave doesn’t just tell you what astronauts do in their training, he explains the “why” part of the equation — making this an enriching read for any age!

Available from Amazon and Indigo.

Take Us To Your Chief and Other Stories

Take Us to Your Chief and Other Stories

Author: Drew Hayden Taylor

In the foreword of his book, author Drew Hayden Taylor of Curve Lake First Nation writes that this work was a “labour of fun” and that certainly comes through in his writing. If you’re a sci-fi fan and you haven’t read his book, you’re really missing out!

This collection of nine stories is inspired by classic sci-fi themes transported to the modern world. In his words, he wanted to “take traditional science-fiction characteristics and filter them through an Aboriginal consciousness.” It is a fresh take that breathes new life and new perspectives into the genre.

I love science fiction because it gives people an opportunity to look at life from different angles, to start dialogues about who we are as humans, sharing one planet. Taylor’s work is exactly that kind of book — one that can simultaneously entertain, educate, and enlighten.

Available from Amazon and Indigo.

The Expanse

The Expanse

Author: James S. A. Corey

If you’re a sci-fi fan, you may have seen the TV series, The Expanse, but have you read the Hugo Award-nominated book series? Mature themes abound in this gritty tale, set in a future where humans have colonized Mars and “Belters” literally live and work in the asteroid belt. Reviewers tend to place this book in a 16+ category, but generally laud the book’s tasteful approach to depicting human reality versus the use of gratuitous violence.

This book series was suggested by my teenage daughter as being the best modern sci-fi series she’s read (she’s a fan of the classics), primarily because of the believable characters and deep social commentary. She’s also a fan of the “monsters” in the book but we can’t tell you more because…spoilers!

Available from Amazon and Indigo.

Disclaimer: You’ll notice there are no recommended age categories for these books. Generally, I think a good book is a good book and I personally love to read books aimed at kids. I also wanted to acknowledge that everyone has their own sensibilities about what material they and their children view, so parents, we recommend you dig into the books and decide for yourselves, the appropriateness of the of a given title for you and your family.

How are you celebrating World Space Week? Join us at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum for a range of family-friendly activities.

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Kim Reynolds

Kim Reynolds is the Canada Aviation and Space Museum's Education Officer. Her goal is to infect as many people as possible with a love of learning!