A Universe of Tween Readers

A young astronaut sitting on an open book filled with various diagrams.

This recommended reading list provides a broad list of books related to this summer’s theme of space. This list includes audio, braille, and large print titles and is recommended for those reading at a grade 5 through 8 reading level up to a grade 6 through 9 reading level.


To order any of these titles, contact the library by email, mail or phone. You may also request these titles online through WolfPAC. Identification numbers for braille books begin with BR, large print books begin with LP, and audiobooks begin with DB or DBC. All audiobooks and available braille books listed are linked to the Braille and Audio Reading Download site (BARD) for downloading.



Grades 5 to 8


Apollo 8: The Mission that Changed Everything by Martin W. Sandler

DB 93071

Read by Jon Pinnow. Reading time: 3 hours, 26 minutes.

LP003523; 237 p.

Explores the space race during a time when Americans desperately needed something to believe in. Covers the history of the Apollo 8 mission, the technical challenges, and the key players involved in launching three astronauts into space to orbit the Earth's moon in 1968.  2018.


Chasing Space: Young Readers' Edition by Leland Melvin

DB 89168

Read by Bob Moore. Reading time: 5 hours, 30 minutes.

A NASA astronaut shares his experiences that led him off the football field and into space. Discusses his time as an NFL football player and as an engineer, as well as the spacewalk training accident that left him with a partial hearing loss. 2017.


The Columbia Space Shuttle Disaster from First Liftoff to Tragic Final Flight by Michael D. Cole

DB 58504

Read by Steven Carpenter. Reading time: 46 minutes.

Details the history of the reusable spaceship Columbia from before its first launch in 1981 to its last in 2003 when tragedy struck. Discusses the experiments conducted in space and the craft's heat-tile problems that led to the crash and death of seven astronauts.  2003.


Double Identity by Margaret Peterson Haddix

LP001771; 299 p.

Thirteen-year-old Bethany's parents have always been overprotective, but when they suddenly drop out of sight with no explanation, leaving her with an aunt she never knew existed, Bethany uncovers shocking secrets that make her question everything she thought she knew about herself and her family. Mark Twain Award nominee, 2007-2008. 2007.


Endurance, Young Readers Edition: My Year in Space and How I Got There by Scott Kelly

LP003528; 439 p.

Prepare to blast off with astronaut Scott Kelly as he takes readers on a journey through his year aboard the International Space Station and his life prior to becoming a true American hero.  2019.


Fairyland series by Catherynne M. Valente


The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente

DB 73304

Read by Colleen Delany. Reading time: 7 hours, 14 minutes.

Twelve-year-old September's ordinary life in Omaha, Nebraska, becomes an adventure when the Green Wind offers her a ride to Fairyland on the back of a leopard. Once there an evil marquess demands that  September retrieve a talisman from the enchanted wood. Fairyland series, book 1. Andre Norton Award. 2011.


The Girl Who Fell beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente

DB 77845

Read by Mare Trevathan. Reading time: 7 hours, 50 minutes.

September longed to return to Fairyland, but finds trouble when she does. Fairyland's inhabitants are losing their shadows to the Hallow Queen — September's own shadow, which she had sacrificed. Fairyland series, book 2. 2012.


The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente

DB 80604

Read by Mare Trevathan. Reading time: 7 hours, 50 minutes.

Longing for a new adventure that will reunite her with her friends Ell and Saturday, September is spirited away to the moon and charged with saving Fairyland from a moon-Yeti who wields mysterious powers. Fairyland series, book 3. 2013.


Heroes of the Challenger by Daniel Cohen

DB 25430

Read by Jake Williams. Reading time: 2 hours, 9 minutes.

Starting with an account of the January 28, 1986, explosion of the space shuttle "Challenger," this book includes short, interesting profiles of each of the seven astronauts killed in the tragedy, as well as a brief history of the U.S. space program. 1986.


The Incredible Magic of Being by Kathryn Erskine

DB 89578

Read by Pierce Cravens. Reading time: 5 hours, 36 minutes.

Julian uses his "uni-sense," his love of science and comets, and his mystical ways of seeing the world to have eternal optimism. After his family moves, things aren't quite the same anymore for everyone, and he tries to do something incredible to unite them.         

Is There Life on Mars? by Dennis B. Fradin

DB 50468

Read by Andy Chappell. Reading time: 4 hours, 5 minutes.

Historical survey of theories about life on Mars, from ancient civilizations' perceptions to twentieth-century space exploration. Discusses evidence of canals and Percival Lowell's studies of them, discoveries made by the Mariner and Viking missions, and possibilities of future colonization by earthlings.  1999.


Mission Control, This Is Apollo: The Story of the First Voyages to the Moon by Andrew Chaikin

DB 69525

Read by Andy Pyle.  Reading time: 3 hours, 52 minutes.

Chronicles the NASA response to President John Kennedy's challenge to put a man on the moon, describing the successes and failures of all seventeen Apollo missions from 1967 through 1972. Discusses the astronauts' courage, moonwalks, and reactions to space travel.


Onboard the Space Shuttle by Ray Spangenburg

BR 15326; 1 volume of press braille.

DB 57877

Read by Graci Ragsdale Miller. Reading time: 2 hours, 27 minutes.

Examines what life is like for crews working on U.S. space shuttles and on the Russian space station Mir. Describes the space program's development and early problems, major scientific accomplishments, the 1986 Challenger explosion, landmark missions, and the 2000 international space station launch. 2002.


Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix


Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix

BR051914; 1 volume of braille.

DB 53286

Read by Brian Conn. Reading time: 3 hours, 41 minutes.


In a future where the Population Police enforce the law limiting a family to only two children, Luke has lived all his twelve years in isolation and fear on his family's farm, until another "third" convinces his that the government is wrong. Shadow Children series, book 1. 1998.


Among the Imposters by Margaret Peterson Haddix

BR051813; 1 volume of braille.

LP000092; 211 p.

In a future where the law limits a family to only two children, third-born Luke has been in hiding for the entire twelve years of his life, until he enters boarding school under an assumed name and is forced to face his fears. Shadow Children series, book 2. F2001.


Among the Betrayed by Margaret Peterson Haddix

BR051804; 1 volume of braille.

DB 55629

Read by Brian Conn. Reading time: 3 hours, 54 minutes.

LP001579; 192 p.

Thirteen-year-old Nina is arrested by the Population Police. She must reveal the identity of other illegally born third children or be killed. But Nina and three other younger kids escape from prison. Shadow Children series, book 3. 2006.


Among the Barons by Margaret Peterson Haddix

BR051803; 2 volumes of braille.

DB 57037

Read by Brian Conn. Reading time: 4 hours, 16 minutes.

Luke has assumed a false identity and attends boarding school. When Smits, the younger brother of his namesake, appears, Luke's existence may be again threatened by the Population Police. And Smits thinks his real brother was murdered. Shadow Children series, book 4. 2003.


Among the Brave by Margaret Peterson Haddix

BR051859; 2 volumes of braille.

DB 59358

Read by Brian Conn. Reading time: 4 hours, 16 minutes.

LP001423; 278 p.

Following Among the Barons Trey and his fellow illegal third-born children seek help from Mr. Talbot until the Population Police arrive to arrest their mentor. When the government is overthrown and more kids are imprisoned, Trey must summon all his courage to rescue them.  Shadow Children series, book 5.  2004.  


Space Junk: The Dangers of Polluting Earth's Orbit by Karen Romano Young

DB 85793

Read by Kurt Elftmann. Reading time: 2 hours, 10 minutes.

Examines the proliferation of debris in outer space, such as twenty-six hundred nonoperational satellites — also known as zombies — and discusses methods of retrieving and disposing of the material.


Space Flight: Crossing the Last Frontier by Jason Richie

DB 57463

Read by Butch Hoover. Reading time: 3 hours, 36 minutes.

Profiles seven engineers and scientists who made space flight possible. In describing important projects the author includes Robert Goddard and the liquid-fuel rocket, William Pickering and planetary probes, and Wernher von Braun and the moon program.  2002.


Team Moon how 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon by Catherine Thimmesh

DB 63398

Read by Mark Delgado. Reading time: 2 hours, 13 minutes.

Profiles the unsung heroes accountable for Apollo 11's launch, voyage, landing, and return, including engineers, computer technicians, and seamstresses who assembled the space suits. Discusses glitches that occurred and the quick thinking that resolved them. Conveys the team effort that made the mission a success.


To the Moon! The True Story of the American Heroes on the Apollo 8 Spaceship by Jeffrey Kluger

DB 90523

Read by Jeffrey Kluger. Reading time: 7 hours, 23 minutes.

Recounts the exciting and inspiring true story of Apollo 8, the first manned American spaceship to break free of the Earth's orbit and reach the moon. 2018.


Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky

DB 86127

Read by Eva Wilhelm. Reading time: 3 hours, 46 minutes.

Profiles fifty notable women and their achievements in science, engineering, and mathematics, from the ancient world to the present. Includes Katherine Johnson, an African American physicist and mathematician, who worked for NASA as a female computer and later calculated the trajectory for the Apollo 11 mission.  2016.


A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

BR 01546; 2 volumes of press braille.

BR 09403; 2 volumes of press braille. Volume 1. Volume 2.

DB 48972

Read by Madelyn Buzzard. Reading time: 5 hours, 39 minutes.

LP002135; 198 p.

When an atomic physicist disappears, his children begin a bizarre search. Led by three whimsical characters, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which, they manage their interplanetary journey by "wrinkling" to span space and time. Newbery Medal. 1962.


Writing Magic: Creating Stories That Fly Levine by Carson Gail

BR 17206; 1 volume of press braille.

Newbery Honor author of fiction provides advice, tips, and exercises to encourage aspiring writers. Covers story writing — from coming up with an idea and developing characters and plot to find a publisher. Recommends practicing a lot and saving everything you write.


Grades 6 to 9


Almost Astronauts: Thirteen Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee Stone

DB 69713

Read by Erin Jones. Reading time: 3 hours, 31 minutes.

Discusses the thirteen American women who passed the stringent physical and mental exams required to become astronauts in the 1960s but were disqualified on the basis of gender. Covers the role these female pilots played as pioneers for admittance to the NASA program. 2009.


Black Stars in Orbit NASA's African-American Astronauts by Khephra Burns

DB 41667

Read by Chuck Young. Reading time: 1 hour, 19 minutes.

In 1983 Guion Bluford became the first African American astronaut to fly in space. This book traces the history leading to that milestone, including the Tuskegee Airmen, the first black astronaut in the space program, and the important scientific and support contributions by blacks. It also tells how African American men and women continue the legacy in the 1990s.


The Ear, the Eye and the Arm by Nancy Farmer

DB 39386

Read by Lisette Lecat. Reading time: 10 hours, 46 minutes.

LP001559; 477 p.

Tendai, Rita, and Kuda, the three children of the general, are kidnapped by the She Elephant’s minions when they venture one day into the dangerous streets of Harare. The children’s worried parents consult a bumbling, unorthodox, mutated detective trio — the Ear, Eye, and Arm — and the chase is on, with the detectives always one step behind the kids, who fall in and out of the She Elephant’s clutches. 2006.


Earth and the Moon World's Beyond by Ron Miller.


Read by Sheila Halstead. Reading time: 2 hours, 5 minutes.

Chronicles the origin, evolution, and exploration of the Earth and the Moon, and discusses their composition, their place in our solar system, and more.


Flying to the Moon and Other Strange Places by Michael Collins

DB 10443

Read by Ralph Lowenstein. Reading time: 4 hours, 15 minutes.

Account of the astronaut's career and celebrated moon landing. Includes speculations about the future of space exploration. 1976.


The Giver series by Lois Lowry


The Giver by Lois Lowry

BR 22397, 2 volumes of braille. Volume 1. Volume 2.

DB 37689

Read by June Carter. Reading time: 5 hours, 1 minute.

LP000125, 226 p.

LP002272, 226 p.

Jonas lives in a utopia: there is no hunger, no disease, no fear; the elderly are tenderly cared for, and every child has attentive parents. The society is uniformly run. Jonas eagerly awaits the Ceremony of Twelve, when twelve-year-olds receive assignments for their lifelong professions. He is selected to be the new Receiver of Memories. As such he learns of misery and pain, but also of joy and love. Giver series, book 1. Newbery Award. 1994.


Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry   

BR 15631; 2 volumes of press braille. Volume 1. Volume 2.

DB 51297

Read by Michele Schaeffer. Reading time: 4 hours, 41 minutes.


Lame and suddenly orphaned, Kira is mysteriously removed from her squalid village to live in the palatial Council Edifice, where she is expected to use her gifts as a weaver to do the bidding of the all-powerful Guardians. Giver series, book 2. 2000.


Messenger by Lois Lowry

BR 15675; 1 volume of press braille.

DB 59006

Read by Michele Schaeffer. Reading time: 3 hours, 44 minutes.

Teenage Matty lives with blind Seer in Village. When the changing community wants to close itself to outsiders, Matty journeys through hostile forests to save Village's founding principles. Giver series, book 3. 2004.


Son by Lois Lowry

BR 19651; 4 volumes of braille. Volume 1. Volume 2Volume 3. Volume 4.

DB 75578

Read by Mare Trevathan. Reading time: 7 hours, 43 minutes.

LP002279, 421 p.

After a difficult labor, fourteen-year-old birthmother Claire has a baby boy who is immediately rescued by Jonas, from The Giver. Claire knows she shouldn't search for her "product" but, overwhelmed by a sense of loss, she does anyway. Giver series, book 4. 2012.


How to be a Space Scientist in Your Own Home by Seymour Simon

DB 31178

Read by Patricia McDermott. Reading time: 1 hour, 11 minutes.

A collection of twenty-four experiments, using easily available, inexpensive materials, which duplicate some principles and problems encountered in space flight. 1982.


Mark of the Thief by Jennifer A Nielsen


Read by Tim Youngbluth. Reading time: 8 hours, 45 minutes.

When Nic, a slave in the mines outside of Rome, is forced to enter a sealed cavern, he finds much more than gold and gemstones: he discovers an ancient bulla, an amulet that belonged to the great Caesar and is filled with a magic once reserved for the gods — magic some Romans would kill for. Nic must harness the magic within himself and defeat the empire's most powerful and savage leaders.


Maximum Ride series by James Patterson


The Angel Experiment by James Patterson

DB 61892

Read by Catherine Byers. Reading time: 8 hours, 22 minutes.

Fourteen-year-old Max and her adopted family — Fang, Iggy, Nudge, the Gasman, and Angel — are part-human, part-bird lab experiments pursued by mutant predators. When Angel is kidnapped, Max leads the flock on a cross-country mission to rescue Angel, find their parents, exact revenge, and save the world. Maximum Ride series, book 1. Some violence. 2005.


School's Out — Forever by James Patterson

DB 62734

Read by Elisabeth Rodgers. Reading time: 7 hours, 36 minutes.

LP001510; 501 p.

After a short stay with an FBI agent, where they attend school and lead a normal life, six genetically altered, winged youths head toward Florida and fourteen-year-old Max’s ultimate destiny — to save the world, whether she wants to or not. Maximum Ride series, book 2. 2006.


Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports by James Patterson

DB 65516

Read by Elisabeth Rodgers. Reading time: 7 hours, 35 minutes.


The time has come for Max, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gasman, and Angel to face their ultimate enemy — "the director," who plans to reengineer a select population into a scientifically superior master race. The six fight to save the world, despite obstacles. Maximum Ride, book 3. 2007.


The Final Warning by James Patterson

DB 66073

Read by Elisabeth Rodgers. Reading time: 5 hours, 13 minutes.

LP001888; 303 p.

While on a mission to Antarctica to save the world from global warming, fourteen-year-old Maximum Ride and her Flock — a band of genetically modified children who can fly — are pursued by their creator, the Uber-Director, who wants to auction them off to the highest bidder. Maximum Ride series, book 4. 2008.


Max by James Patterson

DB 69913

Read by Mare Trevathan. Reading time: 5 hours, 59 minutes.

LP001887; 398 p.

When millions of fish die off the coast of Hawaii and something destroys hundreds of ships, the government enlists the help of Max and the flock, genetically modified children who can fly. But as the kids investigate, a powerful enemy tracks them. Maximum Ride series, book 5. 2009.


The Race for Space: The United States and the Soviet Union Compete for the New Frontier by Betsy Kuhn

BR 17344; 1 volume of braille.

Discusses the beginning of the space age, from the Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957 to the American astronauts' moon landing in 1969, with comments on later developments. Examines the rivalry between the two superpowers and its influence on American society and government policy. People's History series. 2007.


Railhead; Black Light Express by Philip Reeve

DB 89680

Read by Andy Pyle. Reading time: 22 hours, 14 minutes.

Books one and two, written in 2015 and 2016, in a series featuring a universe where sentient trains travel on a Great Network throughout the galaxy. In Railhead, a petty thief is offered riches in exchange for stealing a box from the Emperor's train. Also includes Black Light Express. Railhead series, book 1-2.


This Place has no Atmosphere by Paula Danziger

DB 26847

Read by Mimi Bederman. Reading time: 3 hours, 9 minutes.


It's the year 2057, and 15-year-old Aurora has everything a girl could want, plenty of friends, plenty of time for shopping at the mall, generous grandparents, and a date to the homecoming dance with the boy she adores. How could her parents volunteer to be pioneers in a new colony on the moon, forcing her to live in a barren place with only 750 people? 1989.


Tripods Trilogy by John Christopher


The White Mountains by John Christopher

DB 26091

Read by Jim Bond. Reading time: 4 hours, 11 minutes.


A science fiction tale set in the 21st-century where all life and thought are controlled by the Tripods, mechanized steel creatures who exert control through metallic discs placed in the skulls of children. To escape this fate, three friends begin a dangerous journey to the White Mountains. The Tripods Trilogy, book 1. 1967.


The City of Gold and Lead by John Christopher

DB 27307

Read by Ken Kliban. Reading time: 5 hours, 15 minutes.


Teenage members of a group of free men determine to overthrow the Tripods in the City of Gold and Lead. The boys become favored slaves, and one of the masters reveals the source of the Tripods' power. The Tripods Trilogy, book 2.


The Pool of Fire by John Christopher

DB 35084

Read by Bruce Huntey. Reading time: 4 hours, 33 minutes.


The final volume of a science fiction trilogy sees 13-year-old Will and a band of free men thwarting the Tripods' plan to extinguish all life on Earth. The Tripods Trilogy, book 3.


Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson

DB 83092           

Read by Erin Jones. Reading time: 11 hours, 24 minutes.

1849. Sensing gold in the earth around her, Lee Westfall tries to hide her valuable secret from people who would take advantage of her. But when her personal world shatters, she flees to the gold rush in California to start over. Gold Seer Trilogy, book 1. Some violence.


What We Found in the Sofa and How It Saved the World by Henry Clark

DB 77116

Read by Bryan Kennedy. Reading time: 8 hours, 39 minutes.

River, Freak, and Fiona discover a mysterious sofa sitting at their bus stop. They search it for loose change and find a rare zucchini-colored crayon that launches them into the middle of an evil plot to conquer the world. Mark Twain Award nominee, 2015-2016.