We love hearing stories of readers who feel a special connection to a certain book. So when we heard from Michal, a mom whose son Liam had found a particular interest in Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon and gained a personal sense of accomplishment after finishing the book, we had to let her share their family’s story.
During our most recent trip to our local library, my husband and my nine-year-old son Liam were trolling for new reading material when they spotted a new children’s book on prominent display. Countdown: 2979 Days to the Moon caught their eye immediately. The book had several things going for it. First, it was about the Space Program! Our family loves anything about space or astronauts, history or science, and this book had it all. After a quick look, my husband noticed the nice balance of text and illustrations, which would keep Liam wanting to read and moving through the book to see what was going to be on the next page.
It was apparent when Liam first cracked open Countdown that it was going to be a book that not only he loved, but that we all loved, even his fourteen-year-old sister. The illustrations are breathtaking, and some of them made him gasp out loud. We each had a favorite page of course. Liam’s favorite shows Apollo 5 blasting off above Earth.
The book follows the Space Program, from Kennedy’s speech announcing America would go to the Moon, to the success of the Apollo 11 mission. The book is 144 pages long, and I am aware of this because Liam was so very proud of himself as this was the first chapter book of this length that he was ever able to read completely on his own. The minute he was done, he checked how many pages it had, clutched to book to his chest, and proudly marched around the house to let everyone know what he had just accomplished.
This book never talks down to children. Using science vocabulary, it marches them right along events in history as if they were there. At times, Liam was so excited he was squirming and jumping up and down as he breathlessly read to find out what happened next. The feeling of accomplishment Liam had as he read words like “gauges”, “atmosphere”, “ignites”, and “trajectory” alongside pictures of rockets and actual astronauts was better than any A+ from any test. I have been telling anyone who will listen about this book; it’s entertaining, educational, and challenging for kids without being overwhelming.
As a mom, I was overcome with emotion when I saw what this book had accomplished for my son. Liam has struggled for a long time with reading, and this book was the first chapter book he read on his own. Some books are magical. We all know this. Countdown is one of those books. Suzanne Slade and Thomas Gonzalez have managed to come together and create a book that educates, inspires, and reminds children that they can do anything.