These days, it’s harder than ever to keep kids engaged in positive activities. That’s why I wanted to share a few great science fiction books for kids!
Great Science Fiction Books for Kids
I’d place all these science fiction titles firmly in the middle grade category, for ages 8-14.
Louie’s given them all his stamp of approval. Let’s have a look!
No audio version for this post. I’ve got a cold. Louie tried but I was unsure if everyone spoke boxer, so I opted to let it go.
Great Science Fiction Books for Kids
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I did it also because it’s a big plus that you can click right on the cover art! No need to type titles into your browser.
The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
Can a robot survive in the wilderness?
When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is all alone on a remote, wild island. She has no idea how she got there or what her purpose is–but she knows she needs to survive. After battling a violent storm and escaping a vicious bear attack, she realizes that her only hope for survival is to adapt to her surroundings and learn from the island’s unwelcoming animal inhabitants.
As Roz slowly befriends the animals, the island starts to feel like home–until, one day, the robot’s mysterious past comes back to haunt her.
I loved this book. It was gentle, with subtle lessons about friendship. I found myself rooting for the robot, Roz! Her determination and confusion make her endearing. This one is great for kids not quite able to read on their own, all the way through middle school. I suppose the science thread is on the loose side, but that’s okay. Robots = science fiction. Plus, there’s a sequel! More fun with Roz.
We’re Not from Here by Geoff Rodkey
Imagine being forced to move to a new planet where YOU are the alien!
That’s how we ended up on Choom with the Zhuri. They’re very smart. They also look like giant mosquitoes. But that’s not why it’s so hard to live here. There’s a lot that the Zhuri don’t like: singing (just ask my sister, Ila), comedy (one joke got me sent to the principal’s office), or any kind of emotion.
This book is light-hearted with snarky characters. The scare factor is close to zero, but it’s fun and fanciful. It has an important message about going with the crowd and thinking for oneself. And friendship themes. This title firmly fits into science fiction books for kids.
The Third Mushroom by Jennifer Holm
Ellie and Melvin are back! Melvin has been on the road for the past year and tired of it. He is also tired of “the puberty”. So he and Ellie team up for the science fair. They have an axolotl that seems to have extra appendages, so they feed bits of it to fruit flies to see what happens. Of course, Melvin also experiments on himself.
Ellie is also dealing with the fact that her mom has remarried and her budding feelings for her best friend Raj. Should they become more than friends? When her cat Jonas gets sick, she and Melvin try to revive him with the axolotl to no avail. But is the axolotl having an effect on Melvin?
I’m picky about sequels! This book surprised me. (I recommended The Fourteenth Goldfish here) I liked The Third Mushroom just as much as Holm’s first book in this series, The Fourteenth Goldfish. Melvin’s humor is subversive and will resonate with the adults, so I suggest you read this out loud. Or just read it. Start with the first one though…
Space Case by Stuart Gibbs
Like his fellow lunarnauts–otherwise known as Moonies–living on Moon Base Alpha, twelve-year-old Dashiell Gibson is famous the world over for being one of the first humans to live on the moon.
And he’s bored out of his mind. Kids aren’t allowed on the lunar surface, meaning they’re trapped inside the tiny moon base with next to nothing to occupy their time–and the only other kid Dash’s age spends all his time hooked into virtual reality games.
Then Moon Base Alpha’s top scientist turns up dead. Dash senses there’s foul play afoot, but no one believes him. Everyone agrees Dr. Holtz went onto the lunar surface without his helmet properly affixed, simple as that.
But Dr. Holtz was on the verge of an important new discovery, Dash finds out, and it’s a secret that could change everything for the Moonies–a secret someone just might kill to keep…
Another fun middle grade romp, this time on a space station on our moon in the future. Science and a mystery are interspersed, with a light touch. The science fiction setting feels plausible.
The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
After her best friend dies in a drowning accident, Suzy is convinced that the true cause of the tragedy must have been a rare jellyfish sting–things don’t just happen for no reason. Retreating into a silent world of imagination, she crafts a plan to prove her theory–even if it means traveling the globe, alone. Suzy’s achingly heartfelt journey explores life, death, the astonishing wonder of the universe…and the potential for love and hope right next door.
This book tackles a heavy theme, dealing with the death of a friend. It is not light-hearted like We’re Not from Here or Space Case. It would be a great title to read with your kids, especially if they’re grieving. 2020 has not been my favorite year, or anyone’s I imagine. I’ve found myself enjoying lighter fare, but this book was gorgeously written and has science ala biology, so I needed to include it in the round up!
The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands
“Tell no one what I’ve given you.”
Until he got that cryptic warning, Christopher Rowe was happy, learning how to solve complex codes and puzzles and creating powerful medicines, potions, and weapons as an apprentice to Master Benedict Blackthorn—with maybe an explosion or two along the way.
But when a mysterious cult begins to prey on London’s apothecaries, the trail of murders grows closer and closer to Blackthorn’s shop. With time running out, Christopher must use every skill he’s learned to discover the key to a terrible secret with the power to tear the world apart.
This is an upper middle grade series (go series!) with a likable protagonist. The science is not modern science fiction, but it’s still science, as in alchemy, and integral to the plot. It’s got a great blend of action, adventure, science, history, and humor. I suppose I’m cheating –again– by including it in ‘science fiction for kids.’ But heck, it’s my blog post!
Found Margaret Peterson Haddix
Jonah knows that he’s adopted, but he doesn’t know that the past and history itself will depend on him more than he ever thought possible in this first book in Margaret Peterson Haddix’s New York Times bestselling The Missing series.
One night a plane appeared out of nowhere, the only passengers aboard: thirty-six babies. As soon as they were taken off the plane, it vanished. Now, thirteen years later, two of those children are receiving sinister messages, and they begin to investigate their past. Their quest to discover where they really came from leads them to a conspiracy that reaches from the far past to the distant future–and will take them hurtling through time.
The science fiction does become rather convoluted, but time travel is theoretical, complex, and open to interpretation in science fiction for kids and adults. The action doesn’t stop. This is a fun series and suitable for younger readers. So if your kids/classroom readers like it, they’ll have half a dozen books to keep them happy!
Coo by Kaela Noel
Ten years ago, an impossible thing happened: a flock of pigeons picked up a human baby who had been abandoned in an empty lot and carried her, bundled in blankets, to their roof. Coo has lived her entire life on the rooftop with the pigeons who saved her. It’s the only home she’s ever known. But then a hungry hawk nearly kills Burr, the pigeon she loves most, and leaves him gravely hurt.
Coo must make a perilous trip to the ground for the first time to find Tully, a retired postal worker who occasionally feeds Coo’s flock, and who can heal injured birds. Tully mends Burr’s broken wing and coaxes Coo from her isolated life.
Living with Tully, Coo experiences warmth, safety, and human relationships for the first time. But just as Coo is beginning to blossom, she learns the human world is infinitely more complex? and cruel? than she could have imagined.
Birds and Chocolate
Including Coo in my list of great science fiction books for kids is stretching the boundaries of middle grade books with science, but biology –in this case birds—is science! I love birds! More about birds here! (Okay the flower below is bird of paradise, not technically a bird. Neither is the chocolate. The FACES magazine cover is included because my article about crows and ravens is in there!)
Back to Coo. This book is uplifting at a time when I need uplifting! The story has lovely themes, Coo’s loyalty, her desperation to trust, and her intense desire to hold onto the love that’s been given to her. It reminds us that there is hope in reaching out to each other.
This title works well for younger readers in the middle grade set, as well as older ones.
Science Fiction and Fantasy?
I’ll stop before I drift more from science fiction books for kids into fantasy books for kids! Ozzie doesn’t even like fantasy. He wants a post on realistic fiction.