Mentor Texts for Solar System Units in Upper Elementary

The solar system is one of my favorite science topics! It’s so easy to make the subject interesting! One of the things I love to do with a space unit is to tie it into language arts!

I thought it might be helpful to share with you some of the books I like to use as mentor texts in upper elementary.

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Some of the mentor texts here give more factual information, while others are great to use for class discussions, as a springboard for writing activities, or to read for pure enjoyment!

1. Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed

This book tells the story of Mae Jemison, who was the first African American woman in space. This story is also a great example of the themes of determination and following your dreams.

2. Zoo in the Sky by Jacqueline Mitton

This beautifully illustrated book presents well known and lesser-known constellations in pictures with background stories for each of them.

3. Sun! One in a Billion (Our Universe) by Stacy McAnulty

This book has so much good scientific information and is one in a series of highly entertaining space books for kids. You’ll want to check out Earth and Moon!, two more space books by the same author.

4. Margaret and the Moon by Dean Robbins

Margaret Hamilton loved math and was fascinated by stars as a little girl! She eventually created the code to make Apollo 8 – 11 possible! I love this inspiring book!

5. One Giant Leap by Robert Burleigh

What a great introduction to the story behind the Apollo 11 mission in 1969! It includes information and pictures that capture kids’ interest in the historic first moon mission.

6. Dogs in Space by Vix Southgate and Iris Deppe

In 1960, these two stray dogs, Belka and Strelka, wandered the streets in Moscow. They became famous after they were rescued and selected to become cosmonauts! Super interesting story!

7. Out of this World: Poems and Facts About Space by Amy Sklansky

Poetry is one of my favorite things, so I was instantly drawn to this book! It has poems about planets, moons, stars, rockets, moon landings, and more! Besides the poetry, there are additional facts in the margins.

8. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

I enjoyed the movie so much that I was excited to read this book too! It tells the story of the four black women who helped NASA launch Apollo 11! The book not only describes the space race but has important civil rights themes.

9. A is for Astronaut by Clayton Anderson

I love that the author of this book, Clayton Anderson, is a retired astronaut! Anderson gives readers tons of information using fun poems to teach about space, NASA, astronaut facts, and astronomy.

10. The Astronaut Who Painted the Moon by Dean Robbins

In 1969, Alan Bean became the fourth person to walk on the moon, but he was the first astronaut to paint the moon! This book is a great tie into STEAM and tells the story of how Bean combined his love of art with science.

There are so many excellent space books, it’s hard to know where to stop. I hope these have given you a few new ideas!

In addition to using mentor text to enrich my solar system unit, I also like to use a reader’s theater to incorporate science and reading!

Click here to take a look at the Solar System Play.

Here’s a synopsis of the play:

The Sun thinks he/she is the most important thing in the Solar System and isn’t afraid to let everyone know it. With the guidance of each planet, (including Venus, the diva, and Saturn, the surfer) and each solar system object, the Sun realizes, in the end, that each planet, moon, asteroid, comet, etc., has value.

Solar System Reader's Theater Science Play

I actually created this reader’s theater as big end of the year performances for parents as well as the entire school, but it also is effective as a stand-alone reading resource or to supplement science units (it’s loaded with scientific space information but is so much fun!). The Solar System script is kid-approved and comes with very complete teacher notes!


If you are looking for other reader’s theater plays to supplement other subjects, I have a few others you might enjoy! Click here


Thanks so much for stopping by!

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