11 Books to Inspire Aviators

August 19, 2022

Flying, floating, soaring through the air, children of all ages dream about the thrill of being sky-high! Aviation is a significant part of all military branches. High-speed jets, multi-functioning choppers, gigantic cargo planes, and high-tech drones are all around us in the military community. 

In honor of National Aviation Day, United Through Reading has compiled a list of recommended books to inspire future aviators through history and science fiction too! Read aloud these books with your children to encourage innovation in aviation.


Captain Marvel: Higher, Further, Faster

Carol Danvers kicks off her U.S. Air Force career with her first year at flight school, where she’ll be tested in ways she never thought possible―and make a lifelong friend, Maria Rambeau, in the process―in this atmospheric and exciting intro to Captain Marvel! This story, written by Liza Palmer, is recommended for readers 12-14 years old. 


Chasing Space (Young Readers’ Edition)

Young readers will learn about Leland Melvin’s remarkable life story, from being drafted by the Detroit Lions to bravely orbiting our planet in the International Space Station. The inspiring memoir is suggested for 8-12-year-old readers. 


Elephant and Piggie: Today I Will Fly!

This book, written by Mo Willems, is for the youngest readers. Piggie is determined to fly. But Gerald the elephant knows that’s impossible–isn’t it? 


Hidden Figures (Young Readers’ Edition)

Before John Glenn orbited the earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules, and machines to calculate the numbers that would launch astronauts into space. Hidden Figures was written by Margot Lee Shetterly and is suggested for 8-12-year-old readers. 


Me and the Sky: Captain Beverley Bass, Pioneering Pilot

Beverley Bass was a young girl in the late 1950s; she told her parents she wanted to fly planes–and they told her that girls couldn’t be pilots. Still, they encouraged her. Finally, after decades of refusing to take no for an answer, in 1986, Beverley became the first female pilot promoted to captain by American Airlines and led the first all-female crewed flight shortly after that. Beverley’s incredible life is now immortalized in the hit Broadway musical Come from Away. Me and the Sky: Captain Beverley Bass, Pioneering Pilot was written by Beverley Bass and Cynthia Williams and is appropriate for children 4-8 years old. 


My Journey to the Stars

NASA astronaut Scott Kelly was the first to spend an entire year in space! Discover his awe-inspiring journey in this fascinating picture book memoir (the perfect companion to his adult book Endurance) that takes readers from Scott’s childhood as an average student to his record-breaking year among the stars. This autobiography is recommended for readers 7-14 and older. 


Nerdy Babies: Space

In Nerdy Babies: Space, we follow our intrepid infants into the great unknown. Check out the moon and the sun, and all the planets in our solar system. Plus, learn about gravity and orbits in this simple text written in question-and-answer format. Nerdy Babies: Space, the picture book, is written by Emmy Kastner and is appropriate for early readers! 


Reaching for the Moon: The Autobiography of NASA Mathematician Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson showed an exceptional aptitude for math. In school, she quickly skipped ahead several grades and was soon studying complex equations with the support of a professor who saw great promise in her. But ability and opportunity did not always go hand in hand. As an African American and a girl growing up in an era of brutal racism and sexism, Katherine faced daily challenges. In the early 1950s, Katherine was thrilled to join the organization that would become NASA. She worked on many of NASA’s most significant projects, including the Apollo 11 mission that landed the first men on the moon. The autobiography is suggested for 10-18-year-old readers. 


VIP: Dr. Mae Jemison, Brave Rocketeer

Soar to the stars with Dr. Mae Jemison in this exciting middle-grade nonfiction biography. Mae Jemison is the first African American woman to travel to space. Experience all the exciting moments in Dr. Jemison’s thrilling life in this compelling biography, packed with two-color illustrations and fun facts, including the secrets of NASA. VIP: Dr. Mae Jemison, Brave Rocketeer, was written by Heather Alexander and recommended for readers 8-12 years old.  


Who Were the Tuskegee Airmen?

During World War II, black Americans fought for their country and freedom in Europe. Yet, they had to endure a segregated military in the United States, where they weren’t considered smart enough to become military pilots. After acquiring government funding for aviation training, civil rights activists were able to kickstart the first African American military flight program in the U.S. at Tuskegee University in Alabama. While this book details thrilling flight missions and the grueling training sessions the Tuskegee Airmen underwent, it also shines a light on the lives of these brave men who helped pave the way for the integration of the U.S. armed forces. Who Were the Tuskegee Airmen? was written by Sherri L. Smith. 


You Can’t Bring a Sandwich to the Moon . . . and Other Stories about Space!: Space Age

True stories about the space race of the 1950s and 1960s was written by Laurie Calkhoven and is suggested for 6-8-year-old readers. The Secrets of American History is an action-packed nonfiction Level 3 Ready-to-Read series that lets beginning readers in on a little secret: history is full of surprises!


Want to read one of these books aloud to your child while you are deployed or at training? Download our app today; we’ll send the free book to your loved one and help you create a storytime recording that your child will cherish forever www.utr.org/app.