What should a 7 year old read after “The Martian”?
December 14, 2019 9:36 AM

My 7 year old space-obsessed nephew has been listening with rapt attention as I read him The Martian. He’s an excellent reader, and if it weren’t for all the swearing that I’m editing to “poop!” and “darn it!”, he’d totally be capable of reading it on his own. What book could he read by himself after this that has SCIENCE, and LOGISTICS, and PROBLEM-SOLVING, and SURVIVAL?
posted by ocherdraco to Media & Arts (27 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
Some of the Robert Heinlein juveniles are pretty harmless fun.
posted by wenestvedt at 9:45 AM on December 14, 2019

Hatchet & My Side of the Mountain are perhaps a little list sciency in the way The Martian is but are engaged in more throughouh understanding of the natural world.
posted by gregr at 9:48 AM on December 14, 2019

At first, I immediately thought A.C. Crispin's StarBridge series. It is, however, pitched a little older than seven in some places.
posted by WCityMike at 10:07 AM on December 14, 2019

Seconding My Side of the Mountain. At that age and interest I was also obsessively rereading the how-to book Survival With Style. It’s sort of like a Boy Scout handbook on steroids, with a ‘sensible 70s’ style. Lots of used copies available.
posted by chr1sb0y at 10:33 AM on December 14, 2019

He might like Golden Age sci-fi. Maybe start with this short story collection.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 10:46 AM on December 14, 2019

Seconding wenestvedt - Rocket Ship Galileo came to mind first, but also Red Planet.
posted by neilbert at 10:47 AM on December 14, 2019

Little bit of a stretch here- I really love Steve Sheinkin’s Bomb, which chronicles the development of the atomic bomb and all the spying and adventure surrounding it (more than I knew!) Tons of science, all painstakingly researched, reads like a thriller. Written for kids, uh, 10-15? No sex, lots of war but no blood that I recall.
posted by carterk at 11:09 AM on December 14, 2019

Try The Tripods series. I went insane over these books when I was just slightly older than he is (I was probably 8 or 9). Science, logistics, alien invaders who control society, kids surviving and escaping the alien mind control, society having regressed to provincial agrarian culture while the rusting hulks of cities still remain... it's awesome.

  • The White Mountains
  • The City of Gold and Lead
  • The Pool of Fire

  • posted by erst at 11:53 AM on December 14, 2019

    The George's Secret Key to the Universe series might work, though it might not have enough of the logistics/survival aspect. My Side of the Mountain or Island of the Blue Dolphins are good for problem solving and survival but aren't sciency.
    posted by Redstart at 11:53 AM on December 14, 2019

    When I was a sciencey kid around his age or a bit older, I was obsessed with James Burke's Connections television series and the accompanying book was something I read and re-read. It's not heavy on plot, but it is heavy on how science and technology were developed across history and how ideas lead from one to another. It might not be exactly right, but it might be a good side hustle.
    posted by hippybear at 11:56 AM on December 14, 2019

    Non-fiction, but the xkcd books appeal to all the kids I know who like that sort of thing. Thing Explainer (Example for a space obsessed kid), What if , and How To. From experience, be prepared to have him bring you page after page and want to READ YOU ALL ABOUT IT. Of the three, 'what if' got the most re-reads in my house.
    posted by true at 12:16 PM on December 14, 2019

    A guy named William Durbin writes books about young people in tough situations -- the fur trade, the Civil War, etc. -- that are really good. I encourage you to try those: my kids all loved them.
    posted by wenestvedt at 12:22 PM on December 14, 2019

    Heilein's Have Space Suit - Will travel has some pretty good physics/engineering. Being written pre-moon landing some of the planetary science is dated but it is still pretty good. Main characters are a late teenage boy and a pre-teen girl.

    Lost in the Barrens by Farley Mowat won the Governor General's Award in 1956 and the Canada Library Association Book of the Year for Children Award in 1958. Though minimal science it has LOGISTICS, and PROBLEM-SOLVING, and SURVIVAL in spades. There is a smidge of dated language (mostly Eskimo rather than Inuit).
    posted by Mitheral at 12:33 PM on December 14, 2019

    Is he a 2nd or 3rd grader? What grade would you feel comfortable with him reading?
    posted by dgeiser13 at 12:37 PM on December 14, 2019

    I adored the Danny Dunn books when I was that age. I don't know if a modern kid with all the tech we have today would find them as enjoyable, but if he's willing to read about something set then, they're great fun and I learned so much about sciencey stuff. My favorite was the Smallifying Machine, and to this day I use the word smallify.
    posted by kitten kaboodle at 2:19 PM on December 14, 2019

    I loved the Danny Dunn books when I was a kid too, and I read a bunch of them to my modern kids, who also enjoyed them.
    posted by Redstart at 2:23 PM on December 14, 2019

    Island of the Blue Dolphins! Lots of science—biology is a science.
    posted by squasher at 3:02 PM on December 14, 2019

    The Danny Dunn books was what I was going to suggest if I could have remembered the title.
    posted by mmascolino at 3:16 PM on December 14, 2019

    Le Guin’s Hainish novels are pretty great. Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice has tons of space logistics and no swearing. I would totally have read it at that age.
    posted by Lawn Beaver at 3:19 PM on December 14, 2019

    Not space/science, but a great relatable survival story is To The Wild Sky. It treats the young protagonists with great respect and was a favorite of mine. It's well worth the read.
    posted by Northbysomewhatcrazy at 6:02 PM on December 14, 2019

    Isaac Asimov's Robot Stories were my gateway to SF. First, I read a collection of the short stories from the local library. Then moved on to the robot novels and the Foundation books (not that I'd necessarily recommend those... a bit dated).
    posted by kokaku at 6:30 PM on December 14, 2019

    Selflink, but we've just put out the sixth in a series of science fiction anthologies geared for middle grade readers. And Nancy Kress is back with a new story this year! Young Explorer's Adventure Guide
    posted by korej at 6:32 AM on December 15, 2019

    Blue Dolphins is popular, but there are some concerns that it misrepresents Native American peoples.
    posted by Weftage at 6:48 AM on December 15, 2019

    It's not a space adventure, but I loved The Three Investigators series (also called Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators if you buy it used) when I was around that age. It's got some really memorable (and many dated) science facts but also a lot of sciency reasoning and problem solving. It's been at least thirty years since I read any of them. . . so, I can't guarantee it doesn't also have some bad things in it. But, I went crazy for them as a kid with similar interests.
    posted by eotvos at 9:19 AM on December 15, 2019

    Sounds like the I Survived series might be right up his alley. Not as much science-y, but all kiddo survival stories based on real disasters.
    posted by gottabefunky at 10:40 PM on December 15, 2019

    (I've been reading them to my 7- and 10-year old at bedtime and they both love them.)
    posted by gottabefunky at 10:41 PM on December 15, 2019

    CatStronauts is a goofy graphic novel series but it does have some actual space exploration and kids that age go nuts over it.
    posted by BibiRose at 9:04 AM on December 24, 2019

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