Retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and his brother, Mark, are the first twin astronauts in the agency’s history. As the first commander of the International Space Station to spend almost a year in space, Scott set the record for the longest spaceflight by an American. He chronicled his high-flying adventures for picture book readers in My Journey to the Stars (Crown, 2017), illustrated by André Ceolin; hardcover and paperback Step into Reading editions of the book pubbed in January.

How do you feel about the current spotlight on the 1969 moon landing and on space exploration in general?

An achievement like the first moon landing is important to recognize 50 years later, along with all the discoveries it’s inspired through the decades. It’s also great to see the excitement people have for our space program now, and for where we’re headed.

What are your thoughts on adapting My Journey to the Stars for beginning readers?

I’m glad that my story can inspire new readers to get off to the right start with literacy, especially since I didn’t discover the joys of reading until my college years. While the content on each spread of the Step into Reading edition is the same, I did make the sentences shorter and simpler, so newer readers can read the text themselves.

How have those young readers reacted?

I’ve been surprised by how many kids have told me they’ve read the book over and over, many times. I think my life story is one that many children and parents can relate to. It’s a story of humble beginnings, hard work, and perseverance—culminating with a year in space.

What space-exploration milestones do you anticipate today’s young readers might witness in their lifetimes?

I think we’ll see a return to the moon and a mission to Mars. Beyond that, we will have to let the kids of today decide where to go next.