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Top reads through space and time for kids

The theme of Library and Information Week this year is ‘Adventures in Space and Time’, inspired by the National Simultaneous Storytime book Give Me Some Space by Philip Bunting.


To inspire kids on their own journeys to infinity and beyond, our librarians and staff have selected some amazing books from our collections, from new releases to childhood favourites.

There are thousands more great books – many reviewed by top critics – to browse and read in our Children’s Library, in the Governor Marie Bashir Reading Room.

What are some of your favourites? Let us know and be sure to tag us @statelibrarynsw and #LIW2021

Picture books (Short reads)

Library and Information Week - Where Does Thursday Go?

Where Does Thursday Go?
by Janeen Brian and Stephen Michael King

Splodge the bear has enjoyed his birthday party and wishes the day didn’t have to finish. He knows his birthday will be gone tomorrow, which sets him wondering – where does Thursday go when it ends? That evening Splodge and his bird friend Humbug set off to say goodbye to Thursday, but they can’t find it anywhere. ‘This gentle introduction to the mysteries of time’s passing is thoughtful and reassuring,’ says librarian Jane Gibian. ‘Without going into too much detail, it gently links the passage of day and night to the sun and moon taking their turn.’

Library and Information Week - Zelda's Big Adventure

Zelda's Big Adventure
by Marie Alafaci and Shane McG

Zelda wants to be the first chook in space. Nobody will help her, so she builds her own spaceship, trains for space travel by herself, and leaves the others behind. When she returns triumphant, everyone wants a piece of her story. ‘Zelda is a role model for me,’ says librarian Laura Molino. ‘She doesn’t let others squash her dreams.’

Library and Information Week - Midnight at the Library

Midnight at the Library
by Ursula Dubosarsky 

What better way to celebrate Library and Information week than a book about libraries, written by the current Children’s Laureate and published by the National Library? Librarian Philippa Stevens calls it ‘a beautiful homage to the power of writing down words and stories and libraries giving access to them.’ She says it’s ‘wonderfully illustrated by Ron Brooks and one day I hope to find a little book made of gold in our shelves.’

Library and Information Week - Funky Chicken

Funky Chicken: Chooks in Space 
by Chris Colin and Megan Kitchin  

Join Funky Chook on an adventure through space! (Has anybody told Zelda?) Go on an entertaining journey to imaginary planets called Zude, Fink, Grotz and Ween and meet their unique and unusual inhabitants. ‘This story is funny with colourful illustrations which will capture the imagination of children and adults, says educator Michelle Lee. ‘It is good for predicting text through the rhyme and rhythm patterns. Best of all, it provides inspiration to create your own rocket using recycled materials!’ She adds that it’s ‘a great book to read aloud and be enjoyed by all.’ 

Library and Information Week - Aliens Love Underpants

Aliens  Love Underpants 
by Claire Freedman and Ben Cort  

Educator Susan Owen recommends this crazy, silly and fun rhyming picture book for kids three years and up. She suggests you should read this book ‘if you ever wondered why you might be missing some underpants.’ She adds that ‘with fabulous words like “zinging”, “pingy” and “satsuma”, you know this is a zany read-aloud book. You can imagine your underpants having an adventure in time and space!’ This is one of the many books available in multiple languages in the Library's Multicultural Collection.

Longer reads

Library and Information Week - Rowan of Rin

Rowan of Rin
by Emily Rodda

‘As a mother who is a librarian,’ says Philippa Stevens, ‘I felt very unhappy about my then seven-year-old child’s reading habits until this series was suggested by an inspired teacher.’ In the story, the titular Rowan must solve the witch Sheba’s prophecy, a riddle that could be the key to saving his home. ‘I read it with him and we both loved it,’ Philippa adds, ‘and it really changed his perceptions of how books can be interesting and engrossing and make you feel better about yourself.’

Library and Information Week - Planetarium

by Chris Wormell and Raman Prinja  

Want to know just how the planets in our solar system work? Then this is the book for you. Educator Andrea Sturgeon recommends this beautifully illustrated book because it’s ‘packed full of information that will make your eyes pop and your jaw drop!’ She adds that ‘the engaging mix of science and art in a large book format draws you into the fascinating world of space and will have you coming back again and again to digest the wonderous facts of the boundless areas beyond planet Earth. Be prepared to be amazed!’ It’s for older readers but the fascinating illustrations will engage all ages. 

Library and Information Week - The Lives of Christopher Chant

The Lives of Christopher Chant 
by Diana Wynne Jones 

Part of the brilliantly inventive Chrestomanci series, this book tells the story of Christopher, a young boy who travels to other worlds in his sleep. He calls these worlds the Anywheres, and each one brings a new adventure. Christopher delights in exploring the Anywheres, but what will happen when Uncle Ralph discovers Christopher’s powers?  Educator Alicia de Audney says this book is ‘perfect for fans of fantasy, magic and captivating plots.’ She adds that ‘this book is a classic for a reason!’ Alicia recommends this for ages 10 and over.

Library and Information Week - Playing Beatie Bow

Playing Beatie Bow
by Ruth Park

Part coming-of-age story, part time-travel historical adventure, this classic Australian children’s novel focuses on Sydney teenager Abigail, who feels out of place in the modern world. From her 1980s Sydney high rise home in The Rocks, she slips back in time to The Rocks of the 1870s. Here she is taken in by a Scottish immigrant family who cast her in the role of ‘The Stranger’ and expect her arrival to fulfil a long-held prophecy. Librarian Emma Gray remembers this novel fondly from childhood: ‘This was the first time I ever read about my own city, the history of places I knew. Walking around The Rocks was never the same after Playing Beatie Bow.’ 

Library and Information Week - Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet

Just Right: Searching for the Goldilocks Planet
by Curtis Manley and Jessica Lanan

The planet Earth is just right for us. It’s not like other planets that are too hot or too cold. Is there another planet that is just right? Many people have searched for one. Read about astronomers and telescopes from long ago to now. ‘I love the illustrated timeline, which starts with a Greek fellow called Aristotle in 250 BC,’ says librarian Laura Molino.

Library and Information Week - The Best Kept Secret 

The Best Kept Secret 
by Emily Rodda 

Join Jo as she’s drawn to a mysterious carousel that has unexpectedly appeared in her town – only some people are able to buy tickets to ride and she’s one of them. ‘This story invites readers to consider the consequences of travelling into the future,’ says educator Susan Brawn. ‘It follows Jo as she learns to accept change as part of life.’ She recommends the book for age nine and up: ‘This award-winning children’s classic is a page turner which will keep you on your toes and surprise you in the final chapters!’