Reading is a fundamental skill that helps children develop a strong foundation for academic and personal growth.
For eight-year-olds, reading becomes more than just decoding words; it is about understanding and enjoying the stories they read!
As such, choosing the right books for eight-year-olds is critical to fostering their love of reading and building their reading skills.
With this in mind, we will be exploring the best books for eight-year-olds, focusing on books that capture their imaginations, challenge their thinking, and inspire their curiosity.
Let’s get started.
Fabio The World’s Greatest Flamingo Detective: Mystery On The Ostrich Express By Laura James
This book is about Fabio, a flamingo detective, who is called upon to solve a mystery on the Ostrich Express train.
Fabio and his giraffe sidekick, Gilbert, investigate a missing item and interview the train’s various animal passengers to uncover the truth.
- Colorful illustrations that engage young readers
- Humorous and entertaining
- Might not be challenging enough for more advanced readers.
Matilda By Roald Dahl
This book centers around a brilliant and gifted girl named Matilda Wormwood.
Despite facing neglect and mistreatment from her parents and school principal, Matilda develops her telekinetic powers and uses them to help her teacher, Miss Honey, regain her inheritance from the evil headmistress, Miss Trunchbull.
- Promotes the importance of education and intelligence, and encourages standing up to injustice.
- Strong, relatable characters
- Includes dark and mature themes, such as child neglect and abuse, which may not be suitable for all young readers
Bunny Vs. Monkey: A Graphic Novel By Jamie Smart
This series follows a bunny and a monkey, aptly named Bunny and Monkey!
The story features a cast of quirky and amusing animal characters and is presented in a graphic novel format, with colorful illustrations and speech bubbles.
- Lively and entertaining characters
- Colorful illustrations and a unique graphic novel format
- Some may not like the characters’ frequent use of pranks and antics, which can be seen as negative behavior.
Good Dog, McTavish By Meg Rosoff
This next book tells the story of the Peachey family, who are struggling to cope with the chaos in their home.
When the father brings home McTavish, a rescue dog, as a solution to their problems, the family is initially hesitant.
However, McTavish takes on the role of family helper and decides to train the family members to become more organized and efficient.
- McTavish can help teach children about the responsibilities of pet ownership and the benefits of caring for animals
- Themes of empathy and understanding
- May not appeal to children who are not interested in dogs or pets in general.
Werewolf Club Rules By Joseph Coelho
This children’s poetry book tells the story of a young boy who creates a club for himself and his friends where they pretend to be werewolves.
The boy describes the rules of the club, such as how to howl at the moon and when to transform into a werewolf.
- Features imaginative poetry
- The poems are accompanied by playful illustrations
- Might be too advanced for younger readers, or those who are not interested in poetry as a form of storytelling.
The Diary Of A Wimpy Kid Series By Jeff Kinney
This series follows the story of a middle school student named Greg Heffley, who shares his day-to-day experiences and observations in the form of a diary.
The books are written in a diary-like format with handwritten text and illustrations, which makes them unique and appealing to younger readers.
- Relatable characters and situations
- Unique due to the diary-like format and illustrations
- Some argue that the series reinforces negative stereotypes
The Hodgeheg By Dick King-Smith
The Hodgeheg is about a young hedgehog named Max, who is determined to cross a busy road to reach the park on the other side.
Along the way, Max learns about the dangers of the road and the importance of careful planning and perseverance.
- Educational value
- Positive role models
- Potentially scary subject matter for kids
Ramona Quimby, Age 8 By Beverly Clearly
This novel follows the adventures of Ramona Quimby, an eight-year-old girl who is struggling to navigate the ups and downs of family, friendship, and school.
- Relatable characters
- Positive messages
- Slow pacing
How To Train Your Dragon By Cressida Cowell
This well-known book turned animated movie series tells the story of a young Viking named Hiccup, who lives on the island of Berk where the chief, his father, is at war with the dragons.
When Hiccup captures a small dragon, Toothless, he discovers that dragons are not the fearsome creatures that the Vikings believe them to be.
- Unique world-building
- Diverse characters
- Some stereotypical characterizations
Charlotte’s Web By E.B White
This next book tells the story of a young pig named Wilbur, who is saved from being slaughtered by a clever spider named Charlotte.
Charlotte and Wilbur develop a friendship, and with the help of other barnyard animals, they work together to convince the farmer that Wilbur is a special pig who deserves to live.
- Heartwarming story
- Accessible language
- The sad themes could be difficult for some children to read.
Wish By Barbara O’Connor
This next book focuses on a young girl named Charlie who moves to a small town in North Carolina to live with her aunt and uncle.
Charlie is struggling with a difficult family situation, and she feels like an outsider in her new home, but when she meets a stray dog named Wishbone, she begins to form a friendship that helps her feel more connected to the community.
- Themes of belonging, friendship, empathy, and resilience
- An engaging yet simple story
- Deals with themes that some might find too mature for eight-year-olds, such as having a father in prison
The Trapped In A Video Game Series By Dustin Brady
This series of children’s books revolve around a young boy named Jesse Rigsby who gets sucked into a video game and must navigate his way out with the help of his friends.
- Action packed
- Engaging concept
- Limited character development
The Amelia Bedelia Series By Herman Parish
Another series of books, these novels center around the character Amelia Bedelia, a young housekeeper who takes idiomatic expressions literally and often misunderstands instructions.
Despite her frequent misunderstandings, Amelia’s good intentions always lead to a happy resolution.
- Colorful and fun illustrations
- Might be too silly for some eight-year-olds
Disney’s The Never Girls By Kiki Thorpe
The Never Girls follow the adventures of four friends – Kate, Mia, Lainey, and Gabby – who discover a magical portal to the fairy world of Never Land.
Once there, they embark on a series of adventures with Tinker Bell and other fairy friends.
- A great introduction to the world of Peter Pan and Never Land for young readers who may not be familiar with the classic story.
- Fun and engaging storyline
- Primarily marketed to girls and may not appeal to all readers, especially boys.
Legend Of The Star Runner: A Timmi Tobbson Adventure Book For Boys And Girls By J.J Wagner
This next series follows Timmi Tobbson, as he sets out to solve a mystery involving an old map that leads to a treasure hidden deep in the city.
- Includes several challenging puzzles and riddles that can help children develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
- Could be too complex for some children due to the aforementioned puzzles
The Last Firefox By Lee Newbery
When schoolboy Charlie Challinor is made the guardian of a fox cub named Cadno- a firefox and the last of his kind- he soon discovers the importance of friendship, family, and finding your inner fire on his mission to protect his new fiery friend.
- Tackles relatable themes for kids such as bullying and coping with changes at home
- A cute, mystical animal companion as a major character
- Quite a long read for restless child readers
Harry Potter Series By J.K. Rowling
The Harry Potter book series is a set of seven fantasy novels that follow the life of young orphan Harry Potter, who discovers that he is a wizard and attends Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
The series explores themes such as love, friendship, death, and power, and it has been praised for its world-building, character development, and imagination.
- A beloved and iconic work of children’s literature, which has captured the hearts of millions of readers around the world.
- A well-developed and complex world with its own history, mythology, and magical rules
- Some have argued that the series can be too dark or intense for young readers, especially in the later books
Charlie And The Chocolate Factory By Roald Dahl
This infamous story focuses on Charlie Bucket, who wins a golden ticket to tour the magical chocolate factory of the reclusive Willy Wonka.
The book is known for its whimsical and imaginative story, memorable characters, and themes of kindness, morality, and the consequences of greed.
- A timeless classic of children’s literature
- Full of humor, wit, and imaginative details that can engage and delight children of all ages.
- Some readers may find the book’s portrayal of the Oompa-Loompas, a group of small workers from a fictional land, to be offensive or culturally insensitive.
InvestiGators By John Patrick Green
This graphic novel series follows the adventures of Mango and Brash, a team of alligator detectives who solve mysteries and fight crime in the city’s sewers.
- Colorful, expressive, and well-detailed artwork
- Themes of environmentalism, animal rights, and social justice, which can provide valuable opportunities for discussion and reflection.
- Could be too silly or irreverent for some readers
The Famous Five Series By Enid Blyton
The Famous Five is a series of children’s adventure novels that follow the adventures of a group of four children – Julian, Dick, George, and Anne – and their dog Timmy.
The group often goes on exciting adventures and solves mysteries, with the series being a classic in children’s literature.
- Classic adventure stories that can appeal to children and adults alike.
- Well-written, easily standing the test of time
- Lack of diversity due to very much being a work of its time
The Girl Who Drank The Moon By Kelly Barnhill
This story follows the adventures of Luna, a young girl who is raised by a kind witch and her enchanted swamp monster, as she sets out to uncover the truth about her past and the magic that has shaped her life.
- Well-written and imaginative, with a richly detailed world and well-developed characters.
- A unique and captivating tale
- The book’s complex plot and characters may require some concentration and attention from kids
The Good Germ Hotel: Meet Your Body’s Marvelous Microbes By Kim Sung-hwa
This science book explores the topic of microbes and the important role they play in human health in a way that is easy for children to understand, whilst also providing fun illustrations.
- Well-researched and informative, providing clear and accurate explanations of complex scientific concepts.
- Engaging illustrations to help children learn about microbes and their functions in the body.
- The focus on microbes and the human body may not be of interest to all children
Earth’s Incredible Places: Everest By Sangma Francis
This next children’s book is a factual one that explores the geography, history, and culture of Mount Everest, the world’s tallest mountain.
- Covers various topics related to Everest, including its geology, climate, wildlife, and the experiences of climbers who have attempted to scale its peak.
- Emphasis on the cultural and historical significance of Everest can help to broaden children’s understanding of the world and its diverse peoples.
- The book’s narrow focus on Everest may not be of interest to all children
The Borrowers By Mary Norton
Another classic, The Borrowers was first published in 1952 and tells the story of a family of tiny people who live secretly in the homes of “human beans” who have to “borrow” everyday objects to survive.
- A charming and imaginative story
- Encourages children to use their imaginations and see the world from a different perspective
- The book’s 1950s setting and language may not be relatable to modern readers and may require some explanation or context from an adult.
Dog Man: The Supa Epic Collection By Dav Pilkey
A graphic novel series, Dog Man follows the adventures of a part-dog, part-human police officer named Dog Man, as he battles various villains and tries to maintain law and order in his city.
- The graphic novel format can be a good choice for reluctant readers or those who prefer visual storytelling.
- Promotes positive values like teamwork, kindness, and perseverance.
- A reliance on cartoonish stereotypes and characterizations might not be as interesting for some kids
A Bear Called Paddington By Michael Bond
Published in 1958, this book tells the story of a young bear from “Darkest Peru” who is found by the Brown family at Paddington Station in London, and who subsequently goes to live with them in their home.
- Encourages empathy and compassion
- The character of Paddington is infamous, lovable, and charming
- The focus on Paddington’s “exotic” origins and cultural differences may reinforce stereotypes or cultural appropriation.
Jumanji By Chris Van Allsburg
This 1981 classic picture book tells the story of two children, Peter and Judy, who discover a mysterious board game in their attic, which turns out to have magical powers that bring the game’s jungle-themed animals and hazards to life in their house and neighborhood.
- A thrilling and imaginative adventure
- The book’s illustrations are intricate and beautiful, with a dark and mysterious tone that enhances the sense of danger and excitement.
- Due to being a picture book, there isn’t much actual reading involved
Gangsta Granny By David Walliams
This book tells the story of Ben, a young boy who thinks his grandmother is boring until he discovers that she used to be a jewel thief and still has some tricks up her sleeve.
- Promotes empathy and understanding with familial relationships
- Colorful and engaging illustrations
- The portrayal of criminal activity may be seen as inappropriate
The Last Bear By Hannah Gold
The Last Bear focuses on a young girl named April, who befriends the last polar bear on Bear Island and works to protect her and her Arctic home from human interference.
- An emotionally resonant story
- Provide opportunities for children to learn about environmental issues and the impact of human activity on wildlife and ecosystems.
- The book’s emotional impact may be too intense, especially for kids who are sensitive to themes of loss, isolation, or ecological damage.
The Great Fire Dogs By Megan Rix
Next up is a book that tells the story of Woofer- a stray dog- and Tiger Lily- a pampered spaniel who belongs to King Charles II- in London in 1666.
The two pups are best of friends, but when the Great Fire of London breaks out, they have to brave the flames to survive and find their way to safety.
- An interesting take on an infamous historical event
- Great for kids who are dog lovers
- The mortal danger that the dogs find themselves in might be upsetting.
The Worst Witch By Jill Murphy
This 1974 novel follows the story of Mildred Hubble, a young girl who attends Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches and struggles to keep up with her classmates due to her clumsiness and lack of confidence.
- A relatable story about overcoming challenges, developing self-confidence, and making friends.
- The portrayal of a school for witches can spark children’s imagination and creativity, and introduce them to themes of magic, fantasy, and mystery.
- The school setting and its dynamics may reinforce certain stereotypes or clichés, such as the notion of the “good” and “bad” students, or the pressures of competition and conformity.
Howl’s Moving Castle By Diana Wynne Jones
This 1986 novel is well known for its animated adaptation from Studio Ghibli, and the story follows Sophie Hatter, a young woman who is transformed into an old lady by a wicked witch.
To break the curse, she seeks refuge in the titular moving castle of the enigmatic wizard Howl and becomes entangled in a magical adventure full of spells, portals, and magical creatures.
- An immersive experience of a fantastical world
- Complex and nuanced characters that undergo profound transformations and growth
- The book’s plot can be convoluted and hard to follow at times, especially for younger or less experienced readers.
Bridge To Terabithia By Katherine Paterson
This 1977 coming-of-age novel tells the story of Jesse Aarons, a boy who befriends and creates an imaginary kingdom with a new girl in town named Leslie Burke, and how their friendship helps him cope with loss and find his own identity.
- The descriptions of the imaginary kingdom of Terabithia are vivid, imaginative, and open-ended.
- Elegant, poetic, and accessible prose
- The tragedy and loss, while poignant and powerful, might be too intense or sad for some children
The Miscalculations Of Lightning Girl By Stacy McAnulty
This next book centres on 12-year-old Lucy, who gains incredible math skills after being struck by lightning, whilst also struggling with social interactions and emotional intelligence.
- Themes such as giftedness, neurodiversity, family, friendship, and personal growth, which can resonate with children and provide valuable insights and empathy.
- The portrayal of math and STEM topics is engaging, accessible, and informative, and can inspire children to develop their own curiosity and skills in these areas.
- Somewhat predictable plot
The Hundred And One Dalmatians By Dodie Smith And Glyn Robbins
The classic children’s book turned timeless animated Disney movie follows Pongo and Missis, two Dalmatians who set out on a mission to rescue their 15 puppies after they are kidnapped by the villainous Cruella de Vil.
- A delightful cast of animal characters
- Features themes of family, friendship, and courage, as well as its critique of materialism and cruelty, are timeless and relevant
- The book’s writing style, which is more formal and descriptive than modern children’s literature, might not appeal
You’re A Bad Man, Mr Gum! By Andy Stanton
A comedic children’s book, this story follows the adventures of an unpleasant, foul-mouthed man named Mr Gum and a young girl named Polly who tries to stop him from causing mischief in their small town.
- Irreverent and zany humor, which can be appealing to children who enjoy slapstick and absurdity.
- Offers a message about the importance of kindness and doing the right thing
- The plot can be meandering and disjointed at times, with the focus shifting between different characters and subplots.
The Adventures Of Captain Underpants By Dav Pilkey
Another humorous take on children’s literature, this series follows the adventures of two mischievous fourth graders, George Beard and Harold Hutchins, who hypnotize their mean-spirited principal into believing he is a superhero named Captain Underpants.
- Fast-paced action and short chapters make it an easy and engaging read
- Themes of the power of friendship and imagination
- The humor may not be appropriate for all children, as it includes bathroom humor and other gross-out gags.
The Last Kids On Earth Series By Max Braillier
As the name suggests, this kid’s book series has a post-apocalyptic theme that follows a group of kids who are among the last survivors after a zombie apocalypse.
- A diverse cast of characters
- The books include illustrations, which can help readers stay engaged with the story.
- Some of the content in the series, such as violence and zombies, may be too intense
A Wolf Called Wander By Roseanne Parry
Inspired by a true story of a wolf named OR-7- who travelled over a thousand miles across the Pacific Northwest in search of a mate- the book follows the journey of a young wolf named Swift, who sets out on a similar adventure after his family is scattered by a rival wolf pack.
- Based on a true story, which can be an educational and inspiring experience
- Emotionally engaging
- May be too emotionally intense due to themes of death and survival in the wild
The One And Only Ivan By Katherine Applegate
Last but not least, The One and Only Ivan is another children’s story based on a true story.
The real-life story the book is based on is that of a gorilla named Ivan, who lived in captivity for most of his life.
The book follows Ivan as he develops a sense of self-awareness and empathy, and works with his friends to escape their confined and lonely existence.
- Deals with important themes such as animal rights, compassion, and empathy
- Offers a sense of hope and triumph over adversity
- Could be too emotionally intense for some children due to themes of animal abuse and confinements.
How To Choose The Right Books For Eight-Year-Olds
Consider Their Interests
Ask the child what kind of stories they enjoy or what they are curious about. If they have a particular interest, look for books that cater to those interests.
Check The Reading Level
Make sure the book’s reading level is appropriate for the child’s age and reading ability.
You can check the book’s recommended age range or use online resources to determine the reading level.
Look For Engaging Illustrations
Children at this age still enjoy pictures in their books, so look for books with colorful and engaging illustrations that add to the story.
Choose Diverse Books
It’s important to expose children to diverse books that reflect a variety of cultures, experiences, and perspectives.
Look for books that feature diverse characters or stories that promote inclusivity and empathy.
By considering these factors, you can choose books that will not only entertain, but also educate and inspire eight-year-olds.
Choosing books for eight-year-olds can be challenging, as children at this age can have a wide range of reading abilities, interests, and maturity levels.
When selecting books for eight-year-olds, it is important to consider factors like the child’s interests, reading level, and maturity, as well as the themes and values presented in the book.
Parents and educators may also want to consider diversity and representation in the books they choose, as well as the potential benefits and drawbacks of different genres and formats, such as graphic novels or audiobooks.
Ultimately, the best books for eight-year-olds are ones that are engaging, age-appropriate, and promote positive values like empathy, creativity, and critical thinking, while also providing opportunities for children to explore new ideas, perspectives, and worlds.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Kind Of Books Are Suitable For An Eight-Year-Old?
Books suitable for eight-year-olds are typically those with engaging stories, relatable characters, and suitable reading levels. Popular genres for this age group include adventure, mystery, fantasy, and realistic fiction.
Should I Encourage My Eight-Year-Old To Read Books Above Their Reading Level?
While it’s important to challenge a child’s reading skills, it’s not recommended to encourage them to read books that are significantly above their reading level, as this can lead to frustration and discourage their love of reading.
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