Stephen Hawking the famous physicist turns 70 today. He has led a very public life much for his view of science, but also because he has achieved so much while suffering the physical ravages of motor neurone disease. There are children's biographies about him (see the two pictured here), but this list of seventeen things you need to know about him is a good place to start, even with children.
Together with his journalist daughter, Lucy, he has written a set of three funny adventure stories that also give facts and explanations about the universe. In these three books the characters, George, Annie and a computer named Cosmos explore space learning about marvels such as black holes along the way.
While I think the reading demands of these books are beyond most of my eight year olds many have shared them as parent-read serials and have had plenty to tell me afterwards.