With NASA’s Opportunity Mars rover exploring new terrains on the red planet and New Horizons sharing the first close-up images of Pluto with the world just this past summer, space truly is humanity’s next big project in exploration and discoveries. Opportunity and New Horizons are two huge steps in discovering new worlds, but they are also merely baby steps considering how large the cosmos truly is. Who will explore more of the vast universe that surrounds Earth? That would be the children of today. Humanity’s future scientists, astronauts, and astronomers learn all about space throughout their school years; very important years when children begin to decide what they wish to do for the rest of their lives. The Astronaut Instruction Manuals: Practical Skills for Future Space Explorers by Mike Mongo is a wonderful introduction for children who hope to perhaps, one day, study and explore space.
What an influence Mongo is for children with his first book and what an incredible amount of information he packed into 70 pages. For a book that can be read within a day, Mongo uses enthusiasm, fun facts, and important life lessons to teach kids the wonderful and dangerous traits that go with being an astronaut.
Mongo begins his book by telling children that they are going to become “Humannaires,” meaning they are going to be the next kind of astronauts who live and work in space. This really opens up children’s imaginations to all of the possibilities their futures can hold. Their imaginations expand evermore as, throughout his book, Mongo gives potential scenarios of what could be discovered in space: what it could be like to live in space, what could happen if future humans actually meet other life forms in the universe, etc. All of these possibilities mixed with short biographies of actual scientists and astronauts, the curiosity of the young mind will be peaked and children will want to learn more.
Aside from being introduced to space and the possibilities of living up there, Mongo teaches children very meaningful life lessons that they will need when they become scientists and astronauts, but lessons they can also use for everyday life as they grow to adulthood. These lessons include how to focus, how to keep one’s head in emergencies, how everything always works out in the end, how to be resourceful, how to stay healthy, etc. Even if the children who read this book do not want to pursue a career in astronomy as they grow up will take away valuable lessons they will use every day, whether they are aware of it or not.
Not only can kids read this on their own for educational or entertainment purposes, The Astronaut Instruction Manual is also a great teaching tool teachers could use in the classroom. An entire week’s worth of lesson plans could be made revolving around just this book. It is an interactive book children can write in and Mongo also incorporated questions, Google searches, and activities that would make great in-class projects. Not only is the content fun, but the presentation of the book really catches the eye. Pictures can be found on every page with most of them looking like one needs 3D glasses to look at them, catching one’s attention just by opening the book.
Though Mongo’s book is geared more towards younger readers, The Astronaut Instruction Manual can be enjoyed by readers of all ages. Both children and adults alike will have fun reading and researching interesting facts about space and humanity’s future in exploring it. This manual makes a great teaching tool both inside and outside of school and will be used for years to come. Opportunity and New Horizons have and still are showing the world what is really out there. Mongo is teaching the world what could be out there, is encouraging the imaginations of anyone who wishes to think of the possibilities of a future where humans live in space, and is inspiring children to pursue their dreams of, someday, being up there like the astronauts of the past exploring new stars and new galaxies.