Friday, August 29, 2014

KID LIT HEROES: Are children's books read in space? By Jan Godown Annino

Much of the time I’m in Florida, where ice cream from a walk-up snack window can melt in 60 seconds.
But Florida’s outer space ice cream lasts.  Fans of NASA and the Kennedy Space Center such as me and my family, know the Neapolitan-flavor trick to traveling with ice cream. Pack the freeze-dried kind for the family.

Here’s another NASA trick. And it’s in league with the International (which could easily be International and Outer Space) Reading Association (IRA.)
 If you know youngsters who are moon-gazers

 (NASA image credit/Bill Ingalls)

or science fiction fans or space-addicted, treat them to a story that is read from outer space, part of today’s KIT LIT HEROES.

 Stories from Space sites:

One advocate of this unusual story time is Reader-in-Space, Dad-in-Space, flight surgeon,  Kjell Lindgren. 

And next week, Astronaut Lindgren asks everybody sign up to pledge 60 (ice-cream-melt) seconds, to read or to enjoy writing, speaking or listening for 60 days in a row. 
Can I do this? 
Maybe I should eat ice cream with each read. 
The first day of the reading focus is called International Literacy Day
And this year, 2014, that is Monday, Sept. 8.

Kjell’s mission to have young people and adults reading is paired to a 
social media hashtag #ILD14, a website, and a poster.
The cool cartoon poster is from ASTRONAUT ACADEMY author/illustrator Dave Roman.  

Astronaut Kjell told the IRA magazine, READING TODAY, that he devoured space books even before he was 12 years old, which was also the age he first applied to the U.S. Air Force Academy. “I truly feel like books and reading have been fundamental to my success,” he said. 

Kjell is not only a surgeon to the astronauts, but also a veteran of working with Russian cosmonauts. He is preparing to lift off next year with the 2015 Expedition 44/45 to the International Space Station on a Russian Soyuz rocket from Kazakhstan, in May.

He told the IRA that his devouring of books, especially childhood books about weird futuristic science, is one reason why he will be one of the elite few who will be able to say he reads out loud to young readers from outer space.

“Books are fun to read – space history and science fiction captured my imagination and challenged me to pursue my goals,” he told the IRA.

Kjell and other astronaut/readers in space, Alvin Drew and Mike Hopkins, are among the Lift Off reading corps, who with the IRA, want every reader of all ages to  LIFT OFF TO LITERACY.

Book titles, among many that Kjell recommends for young readers, include
 I WANT TO BE AN ASTRONAUT, by Byron Barton and TOUCHDOWN MARS from Peggy Wethered and Ken Edgett and illustrated by Michael Chesworth.

Of course your 60 seconds pledged for 60 days can cover any
story or topic. I have a stack o’ reading to dig into, but if I desired even more, I might mix in THE ASTRONAUT'S COOKBOOK and,  AN ASTRONAUT COOKBOOK, Simple Recipes for Kids.

As a longtime member and fan of the IRA I plan to pledge and page through the 60-day challenge. 
I hope you can enjoy it, too. 
An IRA activity kit at the event site,,
suggests ways to spend those 60 seconds.

You can also share this information to inspire a reading club, class, or library group to Lift Off.  They can even mention one, or some, of their 60-second activities with an email to the IRA at
or a shout out in social media at hashtag #ILD14.
 Who knows? It might get attention from outer space!

 Note: I'm pleased that the LIFT OFF TO LITERACY project is created in part with ideas from educators including some in my state: Karen Jackson, Deobrah Kozdras and Sam Williams.
And, here are added stellar sites:
Dave Roman, LIFT OFF TO LITERACY poster creator & author of
 Astronaut Academy 

Dave Roman's online free Starbunny web comic:


  1. I meant to ask in the article - who has toured one of the space centers & which one & your impressions?

  2. It was so cool to watch astronaut Mike Hopkins reading books from space! I'm definitely on board for the challenge, Jan. Thanks for alerting us to it. I've never been to one of the space centers, but would love to go some day!

  3. Great, Patricia. If you decide on the KSC, I recommend having Lunch With An Astronaut, which is an extra ticket & I think something to book in advance.

    If you like on the Lift Off to Reading, remember to sign up at the IRA site listed above, so they have #s of readers, at the end.

  4. Very wonderful! I'm going to send this out to my staff members right now! Too bad it starts on a school holiday for us here in the US. It would be fun to start it out together here at school. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. By the way, love that freeze dried ice cream!

    1. Hoping they fly off with it, Todd. Thanks.

      I hadn't thought about Sept. 8 being a school holiday as it's not on our calendar.

  5. Ground control to Major Tom- check ignition and turn your reading lights on. Great post today.

    1. You are lifted off & writing, Kathy, I can tell! Thank you.

  6. Out of this world idea! I'll share this w/my educator group on Twitter. I have been to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in MD years ago.

    1. Appreciations for this sharing Tina. I haven't been to Goddard, but it's on the list!

  7. Earth to Jan: You have shared such outstanding information. I have visited the Kennedy Space Center in Florida many years ago. The neapolitan ice cream was the best! Thank you!

  8. Space Station to Garden Girl -

    I bet there is a story in space gardening, Suzy. They grow plants at the space station, I'm guessing?

    And thanks for visiting our International Reading Day (Monday Sept. 8, 2014) article. For more information: