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60 of the Best Books for 8th Graders

best new books for 8th graders

The best books for eight graders (who are usually around age 13) are upper middle-grade and young YA titles! That’s what you find recommended on this list. Still, I tend to lean toward conservative choices, especially for kids who are still under the age of 16. So I’ve included books about crushes, body image, sexual harassment and consent, and identity. Many of these books are personal favorites that I would certainly hand to my favorite 13 year olds.

For newer books for 8th graders, check out our brand new list of  books for 13 year olds .

Click on the graphics to head over to the book’s Amazon page.

Disclaimer: I use affiliate links for Amazon and will make a cent or two if you buy using these links. It’s a great way to support a blog(ger) you love.

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books for 8th graders - give me a sign, maybe he just likes you, keep it together keiko carter

Mary Underwater

Mary Underwater

Published: April 7, 2020

Mary Murphy feels like she’s drowning. Her violent father is home from prison, and the social worker is suspicious of her new bruises. An aunt she’s never met keeps calling. And if she can’t get a good grade on her science project, she’ll fail her favorite class.

But Mary doesn’t want to be a victim anymore. She has a plan: build a real submarine, like the model she’s been making with Kip Dwyer, the secretly sweet class clown. Gaining courage from her heroine, Joan of Arc, Mary vows to pilot a sub across the Chesapeake Bay, risking her life in a modern crusade to save herself.

Upstander

Published: May 11, 2021

Mary O’Malley is tired of keeping secrets. Secrets like her older brother, Jonny’s, drug use. Starting seventh grade is tough enough without the upheaval her brother is bringing to their family.

It seems the only person who might understand is Griffen Connolly, whose older sister runs with Jonny in the wrong crowd. Mary thought Griff was too cool, too popular for her. But now he wants to hang out with her, and listen.

When two girls Mary thought were her friends decide to slam another girl online, Mary tries to look the other way. Then the girls turn on Mary, and suddenly, she doesn’t have a safety zone. Her brother is out of control, her family’s energies are all spent on him. There is only one person she can turn to. But can she trust Griff? Or is he one of the bullies?

13 and Counting

Friendship List #3: 13 and Counting

Published: August 6, 2019

With winter break almost over and seventh grade spinning beyond their control, best friends Kaylan and Ari write a new list of 13 resolutions to make the New Year, middle school, and their friendship even more amazing before they go to separate camps next summer.

But what happens when their bestie bucket list reveals issues in their friend group? Can they want totally different things and still be BFFs?

Told in the alternating POVs of Ari and Kaylan—and with goals inspired by suggestions from readers—this contemporary coming-of-age story is bound to be the most heartbreaking and hilarious Friendship List yet.

Taking Up Space

Taking Up Space

Published: May 18, 2021

Sarah loves basketball more than anything. Crushing it on the court makes her feel like she matters. And it’s the only thing that helps her ignore how much it hurts when her mom forgets to feed her.

But lately Sarah can’t even play basketball right. She’s slower now and missing shots she should be able to make. Her body doesn’t feel like it’s her own anymore. She’s worried that changing herself back to how she used to be is the only way she can take control over what’s happening.

When Sarah’s crush asks her to be partners in a cooking competition, she feels pulled in a million directions. She’ll have to dig deep to stand up for what she needs at home, be honest with her best friends, and accept that she doesn’t need to change to feel good about herself.

Related :  Alyson Gerber on Taking Up Space

Refugee

Published: July 25, 2017

JOSEF is a Jewish boy living in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world . . .

ISABEL is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety in America . . .

MAHMOUD is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe . . .

All three kids go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers — from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But there is always the hope of  tomorrow . And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, shocking connections will tie their stories together in the end.

This action-packed novel tackles topics both timely and timeless: courage, survival, and the quest for home.

Give Me a Sign

Give Me a Sign

Published: July 11, 2023

Lilah is a teen with hearing loss but who isn’t profoundly deaf. So she has always felt caught in the middle — not deaf enough to be part of the Deaf community and not fully hearing to fit in completely there either. But when she becomes a counselor at a summer camp for deaf and blind kids, her experiences (and the boy she falls in love with) change the way the views her disability.

I loved this beautiful exploration of Deaf culture with a nostalgic summer camp setting and sweet first love. This book is a great addition to the slim pickings of  YA books about disability . I’d recommend this for readers ages 13+ who want to learn more about deafness and Deaf culture + are looking for a summer camp romance.

Cuba in My Pocket

Cuba in My Pocket

Published: September 21, 2021

When the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 solidifies Castro’s power in Cuba, twelve-year-old Cumba’s family makes the difficult decision to send him to Florida alone. Faced with the prospect of living in another country by himself, Cumba tries to remember the sound of his father’s clarinet, the smell of his mother’s lavender perfume.

Life in the United States presents a whole new set of challenges. Lost in a sea of English speakers, Cumba has to navigate a new city, a new school, and new freedom all on his own. With each day, Cumba feels more confident in his new surroundings, but he continues to wonder: Will his family ever be whole again? Or will they remain just out of reach, ninety miles across the sea?

Red, White, and Whole

Red, White, and Whole: A Newbery Honor Award Winner

Published: February 2, 2021

The year is 1983 and 13-year-old Reha is caught between two cultures: her Indian family and community at home; and the all-American experience at school and with her white “school best friend.” But it’s not all rosy. Her mother doesn’t approve of Reha acting more American than Indian. She makes all of Reha’s clothes herself and is upset when Reha says she would like to go to the school dance.

Reha is understandably frustrated at her mother’s lack of understanding, but she’s about to have more problems. Her mom is diagnosed with leukemia and Reha’s life is turned upside down. Between school, family issues, and navigating her affection for a boy in her neighborhood, Reha has her plate full.

This is a heartwarming and heartbreaking verse novel about mothers and daughters, the eighties, and straddling two cultures. This moving middle-grade novel with a protagonist coming of age in the midst of a traumatic life experience will appeal both to younger and older readers between ages 10-14

Related :   Rajani LaRocca on Red, White and Whole, Family and the 80’s

Carry Me Home

Carry Me Home

Published: August 24, 2021

Twelve-year-old Lulu and her younger sister, Serena, have a secret. As Daddy always says, “it’s best if we keep it to ourselves,” and so they have. But hiding your past is one thing. Hiding where you live—and that your Daddy has gone missing—is harder.

At first Lulu isn’t worried. Daddy has gone away once before and he came back. But as the days add up, with no sign of Daddy, Lulu struggles to take care of all the responsibilities they used to manage as a family.

Lulu knows that all it takes is one slip-up for their secret to come spilling out, for Lulu and Serena to be separated, and for all the good things that have been happening in school to be lost.

But family is all around us, and Lulu must learn to trust her new friends and community to save those she loves and to finally find her true home.

I Love You So Mochi

I Love You So Mochi (Point Paperbacks)

Published: May 28, 2019

Japanese-American, Kimi Nakamura is fashion-loving teen who spends her time designing and sewing bold, creative outfits. The only problem is that her mother — a graphic designer who always wanted to be an artist — expects Kimi to become a “real artist.” To her, Kimi’s designs should remain a “hobby.”

Although Kimi has already been accepted to a reputable fine art college, she hasn’t told her mother that she’s dropped out of Advanced Fine Art and hasn’t painted anything all semester. When her mother finds out and is sorely disappointed, Kimi takes advantage of her estranged grandparents’ offer to visit Kyoto.

This is a delightful, delicious young adult novel, perfect for anyone desperate for a trip to Japan on a page. Yet, it isn’t all fluff. It features a determined, artistic heroine and sheds light on all the ways parental pressures can change a person’s path in life. I would highly recommend this novel to fans of  American Panda , fashion aficionados, and anyone whose dreams have run contrary to parental wishes.

Related:  72 Asian YA novels to Read ASAP

Big Apple Diaries

Big Apple Diaries

Published: August 17, 2021

Big Apple Diaries  is Alyssa Bermudez’s graphic memoir detailing her life experiences in New York City between the 7th and 8th grades. Her middle school years also coincide with the attack on 9/11 and the book documents the impact on her and her circle.

I enjoyed this relatable and enjoyable coming-of-age  graphic memoir . Managing crushes, schoolwork, and a living in two homes  after her parents divorce , young Alyssa is also  actively doodling/journaling  — a skill she will continue to use. This is a much-needed personal account of 9/11 that will appeal to a younger audience. I would recommend this one to kids ages 11 and up.

The Love Report

The Love Report

Published: June 13, 2023

Grace and Lola are BFFs who decide to do a project to study love. Their research (if you can call it that) opens their eyes to how fickle romantic love can be (especially among infatuated teens), the negative effects of stereotypes (a goth has more to her personality than the way she dresses, an assumed “bimbo” is more than just a pretty face). But it also forces them to examine their own friendship and how well they show up for each other.

I loved the illustration style in this book and I liked the way the story connects to both girls’ families and the depiction of toxic masculinity and its impact on young boys. This book covers many themes, from parental separation to sexual harassment, but I think what it does best is extolling the value of female friendships through the ups and downs of life. I’d hand this to older kids ages 11+

Slider

Published: September 12, 2017

14-year-old David is a quintessential middle child. His sister Bridgette is in college and the family’s academic success story. Mal, his younger brother is on the autism spectrum, although his family prefers not to use the autism label. Mal is almost non-verbal and only says the word “okay.” David has always has a large appetite and an interest in competitive eating, but after he accidentally leaves a $2000 bill on his mother’s credit card, he’s forced to join a pizza-eating contest to win the grand prize of $5000.

This is an engaging, funny, true-to-life story about competitive eating,  navigating friendship dilemmas , understanding an  autistic sibling , and finding one’s place in their family. David is easy to love and the family dynamics in this story are truly heartwarming. I would totally hand this to anyone looking to read  more “boy books.”  

Breathing Underwater

Breathing Underwater

Published: March 30, 2021

Thirteen-year-old Olivia is excited about going on a road trip back to California with her sister and their uncle and aunt. Their family moved to Tennessee from California three years ago, and the girls had buried a time capsule before their move. Olivia’s big sister Ruth is now 16 and clinically depressed. She has good and bad days and is on medication to manage her depression.

Olivia feels responsible for Ruth’s happiness and has a plan to recover their time capsule, while doing a photo project during their trip to remind Ruth of good times and make her just a little happier. But she soon finds out that with mental illness, it’s not always so simple.

This a beautifully written, moving middle grade novel about sisterhood, art, and loving a sibling with a mental illness. This book portrays depression realistically, showing the highs and lows while reminding loved ones that sometimes loving people the way you know how to is the best you can do. Fans of books about road trips, family stories, or emotional stories will love this quiet middle grade novel.

The Next Great Jane

The Next Great Jane

Published: May 19, 2020

Jane Brannen wants nothing more than to become a famous author like Jane Austen–she just needs to figure out the key to literary success! Her chance to uncover the secret arrives when bestselling author J. E. Fairfax visits her tiny town of Whickett Harbor. Unfortunately, a hurricane rolls in and Jane gets stuck with the author’s snobbish son, Devon, instead.

But when the skies clear, Jane realizes the wind has blown in something worse than annoying boys: Her mother, Susan, and Susan’s new fiancé, Erik, have flown all the way from Hollywood to file for custody and bring Jane back to California. Now she needs to find a mate for her marine biologist father and figure out what’s truly important about Whickett Harbor, so she can prove to her mother that this is where she’s meant to stay.

Gabe in the After

Gabe in the After

Published: June 28, 2022

Two years after a global pandemic, twenty survivors (most of them children) have relocated from their coastal Maine island full of sad memories to a mansion on a small, neighboring island where they have school and farm chores. When Gabe and his dog, Mud, find Relle Douglas alone in the woods on the mainland, they take the strange new girl across the channel to live with them. 

Relle changes the island with her hopeful attitude. She tells big stories and makes plans for activities like talent shows. Despite a growing crush, Gabe doesn’t quite understand the point of it all; why have a talent show at the end of the world? But when tragedy strikes, Gabe sets out on a dangerous journey to try and find other survivors where the world might be normal. Like Before. 

Nikki on the Line

Nikki on the Line

Published: March 5, 2019

13-year-old Nikki Doyle feels one step closer to her pro basketball player dreams when she gets signed on to an elite-level club team. But her mother doesn’t have enough to pay for the club, and so Nikki offers to watch her little brother after school so they can save on daycare money. Unfortunately, playing for the club isn’t nearly as easy as Nikki expects.

Shorter than her teammates and suddenly no longer point guard on the new team, she feels out of place. What’s more, her new busy schedule means she can’t hang out with the team as much as she’d like. On top of that, a new genetics project at school reminds Nikki that her biological father was a sperm donor. Between juggling all her responsibilities and proving herself a valuable member of the team, it feels like everything is on the line for Nikki.

Rhythm and Muse

Rhythm & Muse

Published: May 30, 2023

High school junior Darren Johnson lives in his head. There, he can pine for his crush—total dream girl, Delia Dawson—in peace, away from the unsolicited opinions of his talkative family and showboat friends. When Delia announces a theme song contest for her popular podcast,  Dillie D in the Place to Be,  Darren’s friends—convinced he’ll never make a move—submit one of his secret side projects for consideration.

This was very sweet! I loved the message of putting yourself out there instead of living in your head. I also liked that while we’re in Darren’s head, we learn enough about his love interest that she’s not just a manic-pixie dream girl. This young YA features lovely teen-parent relationships and main characters who attend church without it being a preachy book. I thought it was really fun and perfect for younger teens 12+ with nearly no language!

Harbor Me

Published: August 28, 2018

It all starts when six kids have to meet for a weekly chat–by themselves, with no adults to listen in. There, in the room they soon dub the ARTT Room (short for “A Room to Talk”), they discover it’s safe to talk about what’s bothering them–everything from Esteban’s father’s deportation and Haley’s father’s incarceration to Amari’s fears of racial profiling and Ashton’s adjustment to his changing family fortunes.

When the six are together, they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.

Good Enough

Good Enough: A Novel

Published: February 19, 2019

12-year-old Riley has an eating disorder and now she can’t do the things she used to love doing — like art and running. Her parents check her into a treatment facility with other girls who have eating disorders.

I liked this book about a girl in treatment for anorexia. The author does a fantastic job depicting the experience of struggling with an eating disorder and how non-linear the healing process can be. The story feels authentic and is highly insightful about the therapy process. I also liked the diary-style format .

Abby, Tried and True

Abby, Tried and True

Published: March 9, 2021

When Abby Braverman’s best friend, Cat, moves to Israel, she’s sure it’s the worst thing that could happen. But then her older brother, Paul, is diagnosed with cancer, and life upends again. Now it’s up to Abby to find a way to navigate seventh grade without her best friend, help keep her brother’s spirits up during difficult treatments, and figure out her surprising new feelings for the boy next door.

Turning Point

Turning Point

Published: September 15, 2020

This book focuses on Monique (Mo) and Rasheeda (Sheeda)’s friendship and how it changes over a summer when both girls are drawn into different pursuits. Mo is off at a ballet intensive with Mila, while Sheeda is stuck at church (with her church “friends”) feeling like she has no life.

At the ballet intensive, Mo comes face to face with her competitive attitude which is fueled by feelings of not “fitting in” with the mostly white, skinny ballet dancers. Even though she makes a couple of friends (who basically lovingly force her to befriend them), she’s insecure at times, afraid to be vulnerable because everything feels so different. On the other hand, Sheeda is desperate for something new. Unfortunately, she falls into a risky situation with Mo’s brother whom she happens to have a crush on.

This is a compulsively readable upper middle-grade book for kids ages 11+ that explores a horde of important themes–everything from  female friendships ,  body image , sexual harassment, religion, racial prejudice, to ballet. If you’re looking for a middle-grade book about ballet, I’d highly recommend this one.

Related :  23 Best Middle-Grade Books About Body Image and Body Positivit

Nowhere Boy

Nowhere Boy

Published: August 7, 2018

Fourteen-year-old Ahmed is stuck in a city that wants nothing to do with him. Newly arrived in Brussels, Belgium, Ahmed fled a life of uncertainty and suffering in Aleppo, Syria, only to lose his father on the perilous journey to the shores of Europe. Now Ahmed’s struggling to get by on his own, but with no one left to trust and nowhere to go, he’s starting to lose hope.

Then he meets Max, a thirteen-year-old American boy from Washington, D.C. Lonely and homesick, Max is struggling at his new school and just can’t seem to do anything right. But with one startling discovery, Max and Ahmed’s lives collide and a friendship begins to grow. Together, Max and Ahmed will defy the odds, learning from each other what it means to be brave and how hope can change your destiny.

When the Vibe Is Right

When the Vibe Is Right

Tess Crawford wants to be a Carnival costume designer, but she won’t be able to do that if her uncle’s designing business closes. Business has been slow, and they need a social media presence to compete with newer designers. Enter the funny Brandon, social media expert extraordinaire, whom Tess can’t stand.

This was certainly enjoyable, with lots of information and love for the Trini carnival and a nice approach to grief, vulnerability, and pursuing dreams. I iked the male protagonist’s sunshine to mellow out Tess’s grumpiness. Overall, really fun and wonderful on audio. Great for teens ages 13+

Beverly, Right Here

Beverly, Right Here

Published: September 24, 2019

It’s the summer of 1979. 14-year-old Beverly Tapinski leaves home and arrives at the Seahorse Court RV community in Florida. She’s grieving the death of her (and the Three Rancheros’ dog, Buddy) and has left her friend Raymie without even saying goodbye. Beverly’s alcoholic mother, Rhonda doesn’t care much about what happens to her.

All alone and away from home, Beverly meets an older, eccentric woman named Iola. Iola takes Beverly in and the two begin to build a friendship despite Beverly’s initial resistance. She also gets a job as a busgirl at a fish place, even though she hates fish. Then she meets 16-year-old Elmer, who wants to study engineering at Dartmouth.

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora

Published: May 16, 2017

For Arturo, summertime in Miami means playing basketball until dark, sipping mango smoothies, and keeping cool under banyan trees. And maybe a few shifts as junior lunchtime dishwasher at Abuela’s restaurant. Maybe. But this summer also includes Carmen, a poetry enthusiast who moves into Arturo’s apartment complex and turns his stomach into a deep fryer. He almost doesn’t notice the smarmy land developer who rolls into town and threatens to change it. 

Arturo refuses to let his family and community go down without a fight, and as he schemes with Carmen, Arturo discovers the power of poetry and protest through untold family stories and the work of José Martí.

Keep It Together, Keiko Carter

Keep It Together, Keiko Carter: A Wish Novel

Published: May 5, 2020

Keiko is thrilled that her two BFFs, Jenna and Audrey, are reuniting with her after their first ever summer apart. But when Jenna returns from Texas, she doesn’t seem to fit back in seamlessly anymore — probably because they stopped texting each other after a while. It doesn’t help that Audrey seems boy-crazy and has never really gotten on too well with Jenna anyway.

As Jenna and Audrey’s friendship deteriorates over the fall, Keiko feels torn between both girls. She also rekindles some old friendships that threaten her relationship with Audrey. As a result, confrontation-averse, peace-making Keiko is forced to decide whether or not she will stand up for herself in her friendship with Audrey.

On top of everything else, Keiko’s family seems to be changing: her mom is working later and later, and seems to be avoiding coming home — and her little sister seems to keeping a secret. Will Keiko keep it all together?

Violets Are Blue

Violets Are Blue

Published: October 12, 2021

12-year-old Wren lives with her mom after her parents’ divorce. Her dad has moved to New York City and married his lover (with whom he was unfaithful to her mother), who is now expecting twins. Wren is also a special effects makeup aficionado. Caught up in a new school, navigating new friendships, and balancing her relationships with her parents — whose relationship with each other is strained — Wren notices her mom has begun behaving strangely.

I loved this engaging middle grade book with a relatable, creative protagonist dealing with parental substance abuse. It also spotlights the reality of coping with parental divorce after infidelity and thereafter adjusting to a new blended family. Fans of stories with kids who love arts and crafts, as well as musical theater, will also enjoy this book. 

Summer at Meadow Wood

Summer at Meadow Wood

Vic and her little brother have been sent off to summer camp for eight weeks. Although summer at Meadow Wood seems to be a regular occurrence, Vic is convinced that the reason they’ve been “shipped off” this time is different. Besides, things are going poorly between her parents. As a result, she’s not excited to be there. Still, she tries to make it work, reconnecting with her friends in Yarrow camp while trying to be a good camp sister to a younger camper, Vera.

When her mom says she doesn’t have money to pay for canteen for Vic and her brother, Vic starts working at the farm with one of the camp owners, Earl. She also goes with him to the market — which she gets paid for. Eventually, Vic learns more about the state of her parents’ relationship and forms closer bonds with everyone at camp and even a certain boy at the market.

Maid for It

Maid for It

Published: September 5, 2023

Franny and her mom are finally bouncing back from her mother’s battle with opioid addiction when her mom gets in an accident and is prescribed opioids for the pain. Now her mom can’t do her cleaning jobs and the bills are piling up. The last time that happened, her mother relapsed. So Franny decides she’ll keep doing her mom’s jobs behind her back to keep them afloat and keep her mom out of rehab.

Like everything Sumner writes, this was impossible to put down. It has just about everything middle grade readers love in a good book: the struggle to find good friends, family drama, a strong-willed protagonist, secrets, and suspense. There’s also plenty of info about addiction, which is why this is better for kids ages 10+

All Summer Long

All Summer Long (Eagle Rock Series)

Published: May 1, 2018

Thirteen-year-old Bina has a long summer ahead of her. She and her best friend, Austin, usually do everything together, but he’s off to soccer camp for a month, and he’s been acting kind of weird lately anyway. So it’s up to Bina to see how much fun she can have on her own.

At first it’s a lot of guitar playing, boredom, and bad TV, but things look up when she finds an unlikely companion in Austin’s older sister, who enjoys music just as much as Bina. But then Austin comes home from camp, and he’s acting even weirder than when he left. How Bina and Austin rise above their growing pains and reestablish their friendship and respect for their differences makes for a touching and funny coming-of-age story.

Braced

Published: March 28, 2017

Rachel Brooks has finally scored a spot as a forward on her soccer team. She just needs one more doctor’s visit to check on her scoliosis — one she hopes will be the last.

Unfortunately, the doctor has bad news for her: the curve has worsened and she’ll have to wear a back brace. Worse still, she needs to be in a back brace for twenty-three hours a day. How will she still play soccer? What will her friends think? And what about Tate, the boy she’s crushing on?

This is an important, realistic story of a girl dealing with scoliosis in middle school. With an immersive, charged plot, this story touches multiple themes from scoliosis, to soccer,  family , the  death of a parent , and even the emotions of welcoming a new sibling.

The Many Meanings of Meilan

The Many Meanings of Meilan

Meilan Hua’s world is made up of a few key ingredients: her family’s beloved matriarch, Nai Nai; the bakery her parents, aunts, and uncles own and run in Boston’s Chinatown; and her favorite Chinese fairy tales.

After Nai Nai passes, the family has a falling-out that sends Meilan, her parents, and her grieving grandfather on the road in search of a new home. They take a winding path across the country before landing in Redbud, Ohio. Everything in Redbud is the opposite of Chinatown, and Meilan’s not quite sure who she is–being renamed at school only makes it worse.

She decides she is many Meilans, each inspired by a different Chinese character with the same pronunciation as her name. Sometimes she is Mist, cooling and invisible; other times, she’s Basket, carrying her parents’ hopes and dreams and her guilt of not living up to them; and occasionally she is bright Blue, the way she feels around her new friend Logan. Meilan keeps her facets separate until an injustice at school shows her the power of bringing her many selves together.

Almost American Girl

Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir

Published: January 28, 2020

Robin is 14 when she and her mother leave for one of their regular visits to the US. Except, this time it’s not Hawaii or any other vacation hotspot — it’s Alabama. Robin’s mother has been encouraging her to learn English like she has been doing, but Robin is uninterested, preferring to enjoy her Korean comics and spending time with her friends buying stationery and Korean street food.

When they arrive in Huntsville, Robin realizes that her mother is there to visit a man she has been corresponding with. His family welcomes them, but Robin feels out of place since she can neither speak nor understand English. She dreams of returning to Korea when the vacation is over. However, Robin is in for a shocker as her mom announces that she’s marrying this man, and she and Robin are staying put in America. Her whole life changes forever, as she struggles to assimilate, while handling the ups and downs in her mother’s relationship.

What About Will

What About Will

Published: September 14, 2021

Twelve-year-old Trace Reynolds has always looked up to his brother, mostly because Will, who’s five years older, has never looked down on him. It was Will who taught Trace to ride a bike, would watch sports on TV with him, and cheer him on at Little League. But when Will was knocked out cold during a football game, resulting in a brain injury–everything changed.

Now, seventeen months later, their family is still living under the weight of “the incident,” that left Will with a facial tic, depression, and an anger he cannot always control, culminating in their parents’ divorce. Afraid of further fracturing his family, Trace begins to cover for Will who, struggling with addiction to pain medication, becomes someone Trace doesn’t recognize. But when the brother he loves so much becomes more and more withdrawn, and escalates to stealing money and ditching school, Trace realizes some secrets cannot be kept if we ever hope to heal.

Something More

Something More

Published: June 6, 2023

Fifteen-year-old Jessie, a quirky loner obsessed with the nineties, is diagnosed as autistic just weeks before starting high school. Determined to make a fresh start and keep her diagnosis a secret, Jessie creates a list of goals that range from acquiring two distinct eyebrows to getting a magical first kiss and landing a spot in the school play. Within the halls of Holy Trinity High, she finds a world where things are no longer black and white and quickly learns that living in color is much more fun. But Jessie gets more than she bargained for when two very different boys steal her heart, forcing her to go off-script.

Truly Madly Royally

Truly Madly Royally

Published: July 30, 2019

Zora Emerson is not here to play. She’s enrolled in a prestigious summer program, and is ready to use what she’s learning to change the world (or at least her corner of New Jersey, for now). Zora’s not expecting to vibe with any of her super-privileged classmates. So she’s shocked to find she’s got chemistry with Owen Whittelsey, who is charming, funny, undeniably cute…and turns out to literally be a prince. As in, his parents are the king and queen of a small European country.  What?

This is a charming young adult novel featuring a positive representation of Black teens. There are also strong undercurrents of community outreach,  strong female friendships , and being true to oneself. If you’re a sucker for royal romances, this one will steal your heart. Perfect for readers ages 12+

Related :   65 Black Young Adult Novels to Add to Your TBR

Muddle School

Muddle School

Published: September 7, 2021

For every adolescent who’s ever believed they’re all alone in their misery, here’s a hilarious graphic novel about a new kid awkwardly trying to navigate the social pressures of making friends, dealing with crushes, avoiding bullies — a.k.a. middle school! Dave doesn’t have high hopes for himself on his first day at a new school in a new town called Muddle. But he has no idea just how bad things are going to be.

Getting knocked into a mud puddle by a trio of bullies. Having his secret crush revealed to the entire math class. And then that snot bubble … No, Dave is totally not killing it at Muddle School. He may just have to resign himself to dorkdom, content with drawing in his sketchbook to deal with life. But then Dave begins working on a time machine for the science fair and he gets a brilliant idea. What if he goes back in time to that first day of school?

What if he has a redo, and avoids doing all the dumb and embarrassing stuff he did? Could that turn everything around for him? Could Dave actually become … cool?

Related :  90 Best Middle Grade Books Releasing in Fall 2021

Piecing Me Together

Piecing Me Together

Published: February 14, 2017

Jade believes she must get out of her poor neighborhood if she’s ever going to succeed. Her mother tells her to take advantage of every opportunity that comes her way. And Jade has: every day she rides the bus away from her friends and to the private school where she feels like an outsider, but where she has plenty of opportunities. But some  opportunities  she doesn’t really welcome, like an invitation to join Women to Women, a mentorship program for “at-risk” girls. Just because her mentor is black and graduated from the same high school doesn’t mean she understands where Jade is coming from. She’s tired of being singled out as someone who needs help, someone people want to fix. Jade wants to speak, to create, to express her joys and sorrows, her pain and her hope. Maybe there are some things she could show other women about understanding the world and finding ways to be real, to make a difference.

Solo

Published: January 1, 2017

Blade never asked for a life of the rich and famous. In fact, he’d give anything not to be the son of Rutherford Morrison, a washed-up rock star and drug addict with delusions of a comeback. Or to no longer be part of a family known most for lost potential, failure, and tragedy, including the loss of his mother. The one true light is his girlfriend, Chapel, but her parents have forbidden their relationship, assuming Blade will become just like his father.

In reality, the only thing Blade and Rutherford have in common is the music that lives inside them. And songwriting is all Blade has left after Rutherford, while drunk, crashes his high school graduation speech and effectively rips Chapel away forever. But when a long-held family secret comes to light, the music disappears. In its place is a letter, one that could bring Blade the freedom and love he’s been searching for, or leave him feeling even more adrift.

The Queens of New York

The Queens of New York: A Novel

Best friends Jia Lee, Ariel Kim, and Everett Hoang are inseparable. But this summer, they won’t  be  together.

Everett, aspiring Broadway star, hopes to nab the lead role in an Ohio theater production, but soon realizes that talent and drive can only get her so far. Brainy Ariel is flying to San Francisco for a prestigious STEM scholarship, even though her heart is in South Korea, where her sister died last year. And stable, solid Jia will be home in Flushing, juggling her parents’ Chinatown restaurant, a cute new neighbor, and dreams for an uncertain future.

As the girls navigate heartbreaking surprises and shocking self-discoveries, they find that even though they’re physically apart, they are still mighty together.

Dress Coded

Dress Coded

Published: July 7, 2020

Molly Frost is FED UP…

Because Olivia was yelled at for wearing a tank top.

Because Liza got dress coded and Molly didn’t, even though they were wearing the exact same outfit.

Because when Jessica was pulled over by the principal and missed a math quiz, her teacher gave her an F.

Because it’s impossible to find shorts that are longer than her fingertips.

Because girls’ bodies are not a distraction.

Because middle school is hard enough.

And so Molly starts a podcast where girls can tell their stories, and before long, her small rebellion swells into a revolution. Because now the girls are standing up for what’s right, and they’re not backing down.

How to Be a Girl in the World

How to Be a Girl in the World

Published: August 11, 2020

Lydia hasn’t felt comfortable in her own skin since the boys at her school started commenting on the way she looks in her uniform. Her cousin and friends think she should be flattered, but the boys—and sometimes her mom’s boyfriend, Jeremy—make Lydia uncomfortable and confused. Even more confusing is when Jeremy hovers too close and hugs a little too long.

Then her mom surprises her by buying a dilapidated house in their neighborhood. Lydia hopes to find a little bit of magic in their new home. But just like the adults in her life, and God, and her friends, the magic Lydia deeply believes in eventually loses its power to keep her safe.

And as seventh grade begins, Lydia wonders: Is there a secret to figuring out how to be a girl in the world?

Maybe He Just Likes You

Maybe He Just Likes You

Published: October 1, 2019

For seventh-grader Mila, it starts with some boys giving her an unwanted hug on the school blacktop. A few days later, at recess, one of the boys (and fellow trumpet player) Callum tells Mila it’s his birthday, and asks her for a “birthday hug.” He’s just being friendly, isn’t he? And how can she say no? But Callum’s hug lasts a few seconds too long, and feels…weird. According to her friend, Zara, Mila is being immature and overreacting. Doesn’t she know what flirting looks like?

But the boys don’t leave Mila alone. On the bus. In the halls. During band practice—the one place Mila could always escape.

It doesn’t feel like flirting—so what is it? Thanks to a chance meeting, Mila begins to find solace in a new place: karate class. Slowly, with the help of a fellow classmate, Mila learns how to stand her ground and how to respect others—and herself.

The Truth According to Blue

The Truth According to Blue

Published: May 12, 2020

Thirteen-year-old Blue Broen is on the hunt for a legendary ship of gold, lost centuries ago when her ancestors sailed to New York. Blue knows her overprotective parents won’t approve of her mission to find their family’s long-lost fortune, so she keeps it a secret from everyone except her constant companion, Otis, an 80-pound diabetic alert dog. But it’s hard to keep things quiet with rival treasure hunters on the loose, and with Blue’s reputation as the local poster child for a type 1 diabetes fundraiser.

Blue’s quest gets even harder when she’s forced to befriend Jules, the brainy but bratty daughter of a vacationing movie star who arrives on the scene and won’t leave Blue alone. While Blue initially resents getting stuck with this spoiled seventh grade stranger, Jules soon proves Blue’s not the only one who knows about secrets — and adventure.

Will Blue unravel a three hundred year-old family mystery, learn to stand up for herself, and find the missing treasure? Or is she destined to be nothing more than “diabetes girl” forever?

Goodbye Stranger

Goodbye Stranger

Published: August 4, 2015

Long ago, best friends Bridge, Emily, and Tab made a pact: no fighting. But it’s the start of seventh grade, and everything is changing. Emily’s new curves are attracting attention, and Tab is suddenly a member of the Human Rights Club. And then there’s Bridge. She’s started wearing cat ears and is the only one who’s still tempted to draw funny cartoons on her homework.   It’s also the beginning of seventh grade for Sherm Russo. He wonders: what does it mean to fall for a girl—as a friend?   By the time Valentine’s Day approaches, the girls have begun to question the bonds—and the limits—of friendship. Can they grow up without growing apart?

Sunshine: A Graphic Novel

Published: April 18, 2023

When Jarrett J. Krosoczka was in high school, he was part of a program that sent students to be counselors at a camp for seriously ill kids and their families. Going into it, Jarrett was worried: Wouldn’t it be depressing, to be around kids facing such a serious struggle? Wouldn’t it be grim?

But instead of the shadow of death, Jarrett found something else at Camp Sunshine: the hope and determination that gets people through the most troubled of times. Not only was he subject to some of the usual rituals that come with being a camp counselor (wilderness challenges, spooky campfire stories, an extremely stinky mascot costume), but he also got a chance to meet some extraordinary kids facing extraordinary circumstances. He learned about the captivity of illness, for sure but he also learned about the freedom a safe space can bring.

Closer to Nowhere

Closer to Nowhere

Published: October 6, 2020

For the most part, Hannah’s life is just how she wants it. She has two supportive parents, she’s popular at school, and she’s been killing it at gymnastics. But when her cousin Cal moves in with her family, everything changes. Cal tells half-truths and tall tales, pranks Hannah constantly, and seems to be the reason her parents are fighting more and more. Nothing is how it used to be. She knows that Cal went through a lot after his mom died and she is trying to be patient, but most days Hannah just wishes Cal never moved in.

For his part, Cal is trying his hardest to fit in, but not everyone is as appreciative of his unique sense of humor and storytelling gifts as he is. Humor and stories might be his defense mechanism, but if Cal doesn’t let his walls down soon, he might push away the very people who are trying their best to love him.

Told in verse from the alternating perspectives of Hannah and Cal, this is a story of two cousins who are more alike than they realize and the family they both want to save.

The Flyers

Published: August 31, 2021

Four girls from different backgrounds are selected to become “The Flyers” for  Spread Your Wings Magazine . Elena is a shy Latina who lives in her best friend’s shadow and is uncomfortable about the pubescent changes in her body. Harlow is a Japanese-American wannabe journalist, Cailin, a young influencer, and Whitney, a Black fashionista who secretly has panic attacks. The girls spend a week in New York City together than bonds them as friends and gives them the courage to find their voices.

Friends Forever

Friends Forever (Friends, 3)

Shannon is in eighth grade, and life is more complicated than ever. Everything keeps changing, her classmates are starting to date each other (but nobody wants to date her!), and no matter how hard she tries, Shannon can never seem to  just be happy .

As she works through her insecurities and undiagnosed depression, she worries about disappointing all the people who care about her. Is something wrong with her? Can she be the person everyone expects her to be? And who does she actually  want  to be?

With their signature humor, warmth, and insight, Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham have crafted another incredible love letter to their younger selves and to readers everywhere, a reminder to us all that we are enough.

Sorry for Your Loss

Sorry For Your Loss

Evie Walman is not obsessed with death. She does think about it a lot, though, but only because her family runs a Jewish funeral home. At twelve, Evie already knows she’s going to be a funeral director when she grows up. So what if the kids at school call her “corpse girl” and say she smells like death? They’re just mean and don’t get how important it is to have someone take care of things when your world is falling apart. Evie loves dusting caskets, polishing pews, and vacuuming the chapel―and on funeral days, she dresses up and hands out tissues and offers her condolences to mourners. She doesn’t normally help her parents with the grieving families directly, until one day when they ask her to help with Oren, a boy who was in a horrific car accident that killed both his parents. Oren refuses to speak and Evie, who is nursing her own private grief, is determined to find a way to help him deal with his loss.

Keeping It Real

Keeping It Real

Published: October 19, 2021

Keeping It Real  is Paula Chase’s latest upper middle grade offering. It follows Marigold Johnson, daughter of the media moguls who own Flexx Unlimited. Marigold’s friend and crush, Justice hates their private school where both kids are part of the token number of Black kids. Marigold on the other hand tries to conform to white expectations and fit in with the kids and both she and Justice quarrel about this regularly.

When Justice gets into Flexx Unlimited’s fashion program for teens, Marigold wants to get in as well to avoid summer boredom and spend time with Justice — despite warnings from both parents that she may not fit in with the other kids who are from lower income families. But when her parents get her into the program, one girl in particular, Kara can’t seem to stand Marigold. Add that to the tension between Marigold and Justice and Mari’s summer internship seems more stressful than inspiring.

The Unofficial Lola Bay Club

The Unofficial Lola Bay Fan Club

Sixth graders Iris and her best friend Leeza love singer Lola Bay. But after some mean girls take over their plan to start an official Lola Bay fan club, the girls befriend eighth-grader Dana, who says she’s starting an “unofficial” fan club.  Leeza quickly gets bored and finds other interests, while Iris is delighted to be friends with an older girl. But soon, Dana’s actions start to worry Iris. She keeps hacking into websites, then she uses Iris’s parents’ credit card to buy tour tickets! Can Iris find help before it’s too late?

Alone

Published: January 12, 2021

Alone  is Megan E. Freeman’s debut survival middle-grade novel in verse. It follows 12-year-old Maddie who gets abandoned by some twist of fate when her entire town is mysteriously evacuated. Left alone with no human in sight, she bonds with a Rottweiler named George who is one of many abandoned pets. Soon after, they lose power and then water and Maddie has to fend for herself using a variety of ingenious means and the town resources at her disposal, including an empty library, grocery store, neighbors’ homes — you get the picture.

Maddie is alone for months and has to safeguard herself from wild animals, terrible weather, and dangerous intruders, on top of the fear and loneliness of being all by herself.

I Know Your Secret

I Know Your Secret

Published: December 7, 2021

The email arrives Sunday night:  Do exactly what I say, when I say it, or I will reveal your secret.

On Monday morning, seventh graders Owen, Gemma, Ally, and Todd, who have nothing in common and barely know each other, must work together and follow the instructions of an anonymous blackmailer. None of them want to go along with the blackmailer’s instructions, but each of them have a secret they must protect at all costs.

Set during a single day of school, the students race against the clock to complete a disquieting set of tasks, with fast-paced chapters detailing each moment of the day interspersed with a later interview-style recording made by the quartet.

Where We Used to Roam

Where We Used to Roam

Published: March 23, 2021

Where We Used to Roam  is Jenn Bishop’s fourth middle grade book! I had read two of her books before this one, and loved both! In this story, we meet Emma whose ordinary life is upended when her beloved older brother Austin develops an addiction to opioids. In the midst of her brother’s health issue, Emma is also dealing with a strained friendship with her BFF, Becca from whom she seems to be growing apart. So she is half-relieved when her parents send her off to Wyoming to be with family friends while they get Austin to a rehab facility.

In Wyoming, Emma becomes interested in bisons and makes a new friend with whom she shares more than she knows. She deals with her emotions about Austin’s addiction and her issues with Becca until an unexpected event cuts her trip short.

Related:  Jenn Bishop on Where We Used to Roam

The Shape of Thunder

The Shape of Thunder

The Shape of Thunder  follows two former best friends Quinn and Cora whose lives have been altered by a tragic event. Quinn’s brother Parker killed Cora’s sister in a school shooting. Understandably, this created a rift between both girls, even though they still deeply care for each other and have been friends since kindergarten. As they approach the first anniversary of the shooting, Quinn thinks she’s found a way to undo what happened and reaches out to Cora to work with her.

The story is told from alternating points of view (Quinn and Cora) as both girls try to figure out time travel, while processing the grief and trauma they both hold.

Related :  Jasmine Warga on The Shape of Thunder (+ Giveaway!)

This Time It’s Real

This Time It's Real

Published: February 7, 2023

When seventeen-year-old Eliza Lin’s essay about meeting the love of her life unexpectedly goes viral, her entire life changes overnight. Now she has the approval of her classmates at her new international school in Beijing, a career-launching internship opportunity at her favorite magazine…and a  massive  secret to keep.

Eliza made her essay up. She’s never been in a relationship before, let alone in love. All good writing is lying, right?

Desperate to hide the truth, Eliza strikes a deal with the famous actor in her class, the charming but aloof Caz Song. She’ll help him write his college applications if he poses as her boyfriend. Caz is a dream boyfriend — he passes handwritten notes to her in class, makes her little sister laugh, and takes her out on motorcycle rides to the best snack stalls around the city.

But when her relationship with Caz starts feeling a little  too  convincing, all of Eliza’s carefully laid plans are threatened. Can she still follow her dreams if it means breaking her own heart?

There they are: 60 of the best books for eighth graders! Yes, a few of these books are yet to be released, but they tackle serious issues like parental addiction and parental abuse. I’m getting through my ARCs of these books and I can tell you, they’re worth pre-ordering!

Have you read any of these books? Which of them would you recommend for your eighth graders? And which awesome books for eighth-graders would you add to this list?

More Book Lists

  • The best  books for fifth graders
  • My favorite  books for sixth graders
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Afoma Umesi is the founder and editor of Reading Middle Grade where she curates book lists and writes book reviews for kids of all ages. Her favorite genre to read is contemporary realistic fiction and she'll never say no to a graphic novel.

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25 Captivating Books for 8th Graders

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Alison Doherty

Alison Doherty is a writing teacher and part time assistant professor living in Brooklyn, New York. She has an MFA from The New School in writing for children and teenagers. She loves writing about books on the Internet, listening to audiobooks on the subway, and reading anything with a twisty plot or a happily ever after.

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Finding books for eighth graders can be a tricky tightrope to walk. Some 8th graders are already immersed in adult books. Others might not love reading or still might be struggling to read with ease. Both of these are normal. And between middle grade fantasy , classics, romances, and graphic novels , I tried to pick 25 books that will appeal to all kinds of 8th grade readers.

With a mixture of books from middle grade, young adult, and adult categories, I searched through reviews to make sure these were all considered appropriate for 13- and 14-year-old readers. Many are also suggestions I’ve gotten from 8th grade students where I teach. Without further stalling, here are 25 books for all kinds of 8th grade readers.

Best New Books for 8th Graders

When you were everything by ashley woodfolk.

Cleo and Layla used to be best friends. But in Sophomore year, everything changes. The two drift apart until their friendship dramatically ends. Cleo is still trying to make sense of what happens as she tries to move forward making new friends, listening to jazz and reading her beloved Shakespeare. Told in two timelines, before and after, Cleo’s story of grieving for a lost friendship will be relevant for many 8th graders trying to process past middle school friend drama and looking forward to high school.

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

This is a historical fantasy novel based on Mozart’s older sister, Maria, that came out in March. Maria Anna is a musical prodigy in her own right. She travelled around Europe with her brother performing throughout her childhood. This story mixes the 18th century world they lived in with the fantasy world of Back, which the real Mozart siblings invented on their travels as children. Throughout the story Maria Anna must straddle the worlds: one full of magical fairy friends who may or may not have her best interest at heart and another where her brother’s gender means he will achieve musical accolades she can only dream of.

The Extraordinaries by TJ Klune

A queer superhero story full of suspense, action, and romance. Nick Bell doesn’t have any super powers. But he writes super popular fan fiction about the heroes who do. And after a chance encounter with his favorite figure, Shadow Star, he begins a quest to turn his ordinary life into something more.

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Infinity Son by Adam Silvera

Emil and Brighton are brothers living in a speculative version of New York City, where people can be born with special powers and abilities and Spell Walkers fight the specters who want to take those powers away. When Emil discovers his own powers and Brighton uploads a video of him, both brothers’ futures and their relationships are tested in a story of jealousy, loyalty, and adventure. This is a science fiction/fantasy hybrid story that came out earlier this year. It’s almost guaranteed to keep 8th grade readers turning pages.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Camino Rios lives in the Dominican Republic. Yahaira Rio lives in New York City. They don’t know about each other, or even know they have a sister, until their beloved Papi unexpectedly dies in an airplane crash, flying from New York to the Dominican Republic to visit Camino. As both grieve, they learn about each other and unravel the web of secrets their family kept from them. Told in dual perspectives, through the beautiful verse of each girl’s poetry, the Rios sisters try to figure out how to keep pursuing their dreams even when tragedy strikes.

Classic Books for 8th Graders

The house on mango street by sandra cisneros.

This 1984 novel by Mexican American writer Sandra Cisneros uses vignettes to tell the story of Esperanza Cordero. Esperanza is a middle school girl growing up in the Hispanic quarter of Chicago. Living in a poor neighborhood, she dreams of moving somewhere else. But the book explores the culture around her, both celebrating her Mexican American culture and exposing the sexist influences in her life that Esperanza tries to overcome throughout the story.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

This familiar fantasy story is a precursor to the longer and more challenging Lord of the Rings Trilogy. It’s a contained adventure story in an epic fantasy world. With dwarves, hobbits, sword fights, wizards, and dragons, the book’s plot and humor have stood the test of time. There is a reason this book has been popular with children and adult readers for more than eighty years!

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

For budding mystery readers, introduce them to a classic whodunnit. The famous detective Sherlock Holmes and his companion Watson set out to investigate a new case in Dartmoor, England. A man is dead with enormous dog pawprints leading to his body. Some believe it is a coincidence. Others believe in a family curse and a local legend of a supernatural dog, able to frighten people to death. Holmes and Watson arrive in Dartmoor to find several unexplainable occurrences and clues. Together, they start to unravel a puzzle that defined mystery and detective fiction ever since this book was published.

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

This is a classic that’s great to read at almost any age. I read this in middle school and again in college. It was published in 1959 and has become a rare African book accepted into the academic cannon. The fascinating novel follows the character Okonkwo, who’s living in an Igbo village in Nigeria. His life dramatically changes as white missionaries and colonialism influence the world around him. Despite a bleak subject, the story is infused with lyrical writing and moments of humor.

Award-Winning Books for 8th Graders

Brown girl dreaming by jacqueline woodson.

Winner of the National Book Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, and a Newberry Honor Book, Brown Girl Dreaming  uses poetry for the author to tell her true story of growing up Black in the 1960s and 1970s. Woodson’s beautiful, sparse language explores big ideas, while describing her family, her growing awareness of race and the Civil Rights movement, and her life split between South Carolina and New York City.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

This book won the Printz Award and is a Stonewall Honor Book. It follows twins Noah and Jude, alternating between their perspectives and two different periods of time. One, when they are 13, inseparable, their mother is still alive, and Noah is falling in love for the first time with their new neighbor Brian. The second is when the twins are 16, barely speaking, and without their mother. Along with powerful, lyrical prose, the book explores what it means to be an artist, what it means to be a family, and what it means to grow up.

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

This book won the Printz award and gained several other honors and smaller awards as well. In a dystopian (or perhaps utopian) future, technological advances have eliminated death by natural causes. Society has created a new roll “Scythes” who kill people to keep the population under control. Two teenagers, Rowan and Citra, are training to become Scythes. But in the course of their training, they uncover massive corruption within the Scythe system. The secrets they uncover and their relationship with each other will change both their destinies and the course of society at large.

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe

This book is the 2020 winner the Morris Award, which honors new writers making their young adult debut. In it, Norris a Black French Canadian teenager who must acclimate to a new life in Austin, Texas. He observes and categorizes everyone around him and longs to go home to Canada. And sometimes—just sometimes—Norris learns to see past his assumptions and categorizations to make friends or, at least, understand the individual people around him more clearly.

 Challenging Books for 8th Graders

The interpreter of maladies by jhumpa lahiri.

This Pulitzer Prize–winning short story collection explores the lives of Indian and Indian American characters who feel caught between the cultures of both countries. The immigrant experience is portrayed through lyrical prose and intense character study. This book does touch on adult themes, such as death, grief, and sexuality, but appears on some middle school and 9th grade curriculums. The Interpreter of Maladies will be a challenging book for advanced and mature 8th graders to read.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

With multiple perspectives, sophisticated setting descriptions, and a complicated magic system, this novel could be a good “reach” book for 8th graders. Two young magicians, Celia and Marcus, have been training for a magical duel their whole lives. The duel involves one upping each other in the creation of a magical circus. But when they meet and have feelings for each other, the competition is put at risk. But in love or not, the game keeps demanding more and more from each magician. Neither wants to lose the game or each other.

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

This nonfiction book addresses racism in America and describes Baldwin’s early life growing up in Harlem. The book consists of two essays: “My Dungeon Shook—Letter to my Nephew on the One Hundredth Anniversary of the Emancipation” and “Down at the Cross—Letter From a Region of My Mind.” They were written in the 1960s, but function as both a historical read and one that is unfortunately still relevant in America today. The essays were written for an adult reader, but are appropriate for mature 8th grade readers and sure to spark important discussions.

Fantasy Books for 8th Graders 

Nocturna by maya motayne.

In a Latinx inspired fantasy world, Finn is a thief with the magical ability to change her appearance and Alfie is prince with magical powers of his own. Their paths cross when Alfie unleashes a powerful dark magic in the hopes of bringing back his dead older brother. Finn just happens to be in the palace, attempting to steal a mystical cloak of invisibility. They’re pasts and personalities couldn’t be more different. But they have to work together, or their world will be destroyed forever.

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia

Eighth graders who love mythology and Rick Riordan books (AKA pretty much every eighth grader I’ve ever taught who likes reading) will devour this new fantasy series. While spending the summer at his grandparents’ farm in Alabama, Tristan accidentally opens—punches—a portal to the magical and scary world of MidPass. MidPass weaves together African American and West African gods. To return home, Tristan must convince the trickster god Anansi to seal the hole he created in the sky. But first, Anansi asks for a dangerous favor in return.

Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell

Steampunk, science-forward Cinderella retelling. Do I need to say more to convince 8th grade readers to pick up this book? I doubt it, but I’ll keep going. Nic is called Mechanica by her cruel stepsisters. They think it’s an insult, but being an inventor is one of her proudest accomplishment. She’s created impressive technology to do all the chores her stepmother pushes on her. And instead of a ball, Nic is preparing for the royal science exposition in hopes of finding funders to gain her independence. There is a prince. He is dreamy. But he is also not the only way for Nic to get the future she dreams of for herself.

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor

Sunny was born in New York but now lives in Alba, Nigeria. This and the fact that she’s albino make her feel like an outsider. But when she’s 12, she makes friends with  Orlu and Chichi and is thrust into the magical world of the Leopard People. In this world, she learns how to perform her own magic and harness her power. She must keep it a secret from her family, but also gives her a sense of belonging. But the stakes are raised when Sunny and her friends are tasked with finding Black Hat Otokoto, a Leopard man responsible for kidnapping and hurting many children.

Romance Books for 8th Graders

I wanna be where you are by kristina forest.

Eighth graders will love looking ahead to high school in this road trip ballet romcom. Chloe’s dream is to dance at a ballet conservatory in New York City. Her mom, however, won’t let her audition. But when her mom goes on vacation, Chloe road trips down to Washington, D.C., to try out. The only problem is her ex–best frenemy and neighbor Eli finds out and blackmails her into taking him and his smelly dog Geezer along. Eli is trying to figure out his future as well. If he’ll go to the school his dad wants or follow his own dream to study art. Along the way, both characters learn lessons, gain confidence, and sparks fly between them.

The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper

Cal and Leon are both the sons of astronauts and meet when their fathers are preparing for a new NASA mission to Mars. For publicity, they become involved in a space-themed reality TV show. Both must deal with being thrust into the national spotlight as they figure out their romantic attraction and connection. But when Cal finds out secrets about the space program, he feels torn. He wants to world to know the truth. But he doesn’t want to hurt the people he loves.

All the Things We Never Knew by Liara Tamani

A first love story that unfolds against the backdrop of the basketball court. When basketball players Carli and Rex meet, they fall for each other fast. But is love for each other enough when secrets, uncertain futures, and self-doubt enter the relationship? Equal parts hilarious and emotional, this book is always Romantic with a capital R. Prepare to swoon, 8th grade readers!

Graphic Novels for 8th Graders

New kid by jerry craft.

An own voices graphic novel about following your passions and fitting in. Jordan wants to go to art school, but his parents enroll him in a fancy private school where is one of the only kids of color. He appreciates the education and starts making friends, but feels like he is being split between two worlds. And he realizes that neither his neighborhood self or his school self feel like real, authentic versions of him.

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

Prince Sebastian’s parents want him to find a bride. But he is hiding a key part of his identity from everyone: At night, he wears the most fashionable dresses and charms the Parisian social scene as Lady Crystallia. Only his best friend and dressmaker, Frances, knows his secret. But Frances has her own ambitions beyond making dresses for just the prince. This is a romantic fairytale that embraces the power of true friendship and the truth that boys can wear dresses.

I hope there’s something here for almost every 8th grade reader, spanning interests and reading level. But of course, there are hundreds and hundreds of other wonderful books for 8th graders to fall in love with. After going through these one, this list of 100 must-read middle school books should be next on your list!

best new books for 8th graders

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25 New Books for 8th Graders to Add to Your Classroom Library

I’m buying all of these! For my students, of course! I definitely don’t want them just for me.

8th grade books feature image

Eighth graders are awesome. Complicated, but awesome. Some days, they’re ready for high school. They want to discuss more grown-up concepts, and they wonder (and worry!) about the world around them. Other times, they’re still very much the children we met at the start of the school year. They want to laugh and play and be silly. That’s why we’re excited to share this list of new books for 8th graders with you. Many of them deal with the complex ideas and struggles your students are facing in their own lives and seeing in the world. Others are fun adventures, full of laughs and silliness. We know you’re going to find more than a few to add to your classroom library or next book talk.

(Just a heads up, WeAreTeachers may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. We only recommend items our team loves!)

1. The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna

The Gilded Ones book cover- books for 8th graders

The first in an action-packed fantasy trilogy, this novel has it all: A fierce, female protagonist faced with tremendous challenges as she chooses to leave everything she knows behind to join an elite army of young women like her. A unique setting and plot to hook even the most reluctant reader. And the promise of a great story being carried over into two more novels. It’s the perfect novel to share with your class to introduce them to a new genre and author.

Buy it: The Gilded Ones at Amazon

2. Freestyle: A Graphic Novel by Gale Galligan

Freestyle book cover

Many of our students struggle to balance their extracurricular activities with their schoolwork and social lives. Cory, the main character in this graphic novel, is dealing with the same issues. His dance team is practicing for their final competition before high school, his parents are on him to improve his grades, and the tutor they hired can do absolutely amazing tricks with a yo-yo that Cory wants to learn. How will he balance all of his interests and responsibilities? This is one of the fun, relatable books for 8th graders that’s perfect for reluctant readers.

Buy it: Freestyle: A Graphic Novel at Amazon

3. We Are Not Free by by Traci Chee

One of the most powerful aspects of historical fiction is its ability to help us connect to important events from the past. In this award-winning novel, your students will be introduced to 14 teens. They are Nisei—second-generation Japanese Americans—whose lives are turned upside down when they and their families are taken from their homes and placed in an internment camp during World War II. This would make a powerful addition to any discussion or learning unit about this period in American history.

Buy it: We Are Not Free at Amazon

4. Glimpsed by G.F. Miller

Glimpsed book cover- books for 8th graders

Everyone loves a good twist on a story we’ve all heard before, and this novel does it with style. Charity, the main character, is a fairy godmother. That’s right, she can grant wishes! And she does, until everything starts to go wrong and she has to work together with Noah, a classmate who is less than thrilled with her wish-giving talents. Part fantasy, part rom-com, and all fun, your students will be absolutely charmed with this one.

Buy it: Glimpsed at Amazon

5. The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Perfect for our students who love puzzles, brain-teasers, and riddles. When Tobias Hawthorne dies, he leaves his entire fortune to Avery Grambs, a high schooler who has never even heard of Hawthorne. The only catch? She must move into his sprawling and mysterious mansion filled with secret passages and the furious relatives who thought they would be the ones to inherit the mysterious billionaire’s fortune. Avery will have to use all of her wits to solve the riddle of why Hawthorne chose her before it’s too late.

Buy it: The Inheritance Games at Amazon

6. Home Is Not a Country by Safia Elhillo

Home is Not a Country book cover

Nima is a first-generation immigrant. She feels caught between the Islamic world she grew up in and the post-9/11 suburban world where she’s now living. As she tries to get through each day, she grapples with the question of what home means to someone like her.

Buy it: Home Is Not a Country at Amazon

7. Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

Instructions for Dancing book cover- books for 8th graders

Some 8th graders are ready for a fun, lighthearted romance, and this one is just the ticket. It’s not too surprising that 17-year-old Evie Thomas is disillusioned by love. She has the unique ability to see how all relationships will eventually break up, after all. But when she finds herself learning to fox-trot, waltz, and tango with an adventurous boy named X, she begins to wonder if she has made up her mind about love too soon.

Buy it: Instructions for Dancing by Amazon

8. Before Takeoff by Adi Alsaid

Before Takeoff book cover

James and Michelle meet in the Atlanta airport during a layover. They discover a bright-green blinking button, and they push it. What could possibly go wrong? Snowstorms in Terminal B, a jungle in Terminal C, and earthquakes splitting the group are just a few of the Jumanji- esque adventures that follow as these two teens try to find their families and end the chaos before it’s too late.

Buy it: Before Takeoff at Amazon

9. The First to Die at the End by Adam Silvera

The First to Die at the End book cover

The prequel to the award-winning They Both Die at the End , this novel follows two young men as they come to grips with a new technology that has just become available. Death-Cast, as it’s called, can accurately tell you when you will die. In fact, it will give you a polite phone call on the day it’s going to happen. Both young men sign up for the service, but on the first day only one receives the call. The rest of the novel follows them as they decide to spend that last day together. Heartbreaking and uplifting, the story celebrates that life is worth living to it’s fullest.

Buy it: The First to Die at the End at Amazon

10. I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys

I Must Betray You book cover- books for 8th graders

Have any history buffs in your classroom? Hand them this historical-fiction novel and let them learn about a time and place they’ve probably never thought of before. Seventeen-year-old Cristian Florescu wants to become a writer, but in Romania in 1989, his chances of becoming one are slim. Because of the tyrannical dictatorship of his country’s leader, Nicolae Ceaușescu, Romanians are not free to follow their dreams. Blackmailed by the secret police to become an informer, Cristian is left with only two choices: betray his loved ones and his country, or use his position to creatively undermine the dictator who’s destroying everything he believes in.

Buy it: I Must Betray You at Amazon

11. Take Me With You When You Go by David Levithan and Jennifer Niven

Fifteen-year-old Ezra wakes up to find his 18-year-old sister, Bea, gone. She’s left no clues to where she has gone except for an email address, hidden someplace only Ezra would find. As Ezra reaches out to Bea via email, the two attempt to piece together their fractured family.

Buy it: Take Me With You When You Go at Amazon

12. One of the Good Ones by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

One of the Good Ones book cover

When her sister is killed mysteriously at a social justice rally, Happi and her family are left reeling. As the community turns her sister into a martyr in the fight against police brutality, Happi wonders why only some people are deemed “worthy” of idealizing in this way. Her search for answers into what really happened and, ultimately, who her sister truly was will change everything Happi thought she knew about prejudice, sisterhood, and what it truly means to be an ally.

Buy it: One of the Good Ones at Amazon

13. These Deadly Games by Diana Urban

These Deadly Games book cover- books for 8th graders

Perfect for your students who have already seen all the scary movies and love anything dark and spooky. Protagonist Crystal decides to try out a new app only to wind up playing a game she can’t walk away from. An anonymous kidnapper has her younger sister, and if Crystal wants her to stay alive, she’ll have to do the tasks the kidnapper requests of her. They seem harmless enough at first—baking brownies, making a prank call, stealing a test—but she quickly realizes that they all are targeting people in Crystal’s group of friends. The kidnapper knows something about the group’s past and wants to use Crystal to take their revenge.

Buy it: These Deadly Games at Amazon

14. One for All by Lillie Lainoff

One For All book cover

A swashbuckling reimagining of  The Three Musketeers,  this story introduces students to Tania, a girl who refuses to let an illness that leaves her feeling dizzy all the time slow her down. She wants to be strong, independent, and a good fighter, just like her father was. He was a former Musketeer, and his dying wish was for Tania to attend finishing school. When she arrives at school, however, she realizes it’s not just a finishing school but a secret training academy for young Musketeers. It’s an exciting novel with a unique protagonist that will capture your students’ hearts and imaginations.

Buy it: One for All at Amazon

15. Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert

Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute book cover

One of the great books for 8th graders as they prepare to head to high school, this story is about two students who used to be friends until high school life got in the way. Bradley and Celine were inseparable in middle school, but in high school Bradley become Mr. Popular and suddenly Celine wasn’t cool enough to hang out with anymore. The two are thrown together again when they both sign up for a survival course in the woods. Will they be able to overcome their past to work together on the adventure or has too much time passed?

Buy it: Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute at Amazon

16. The Island by Natasha Preston

The Island book cover- books for 8th graders

For all of our students who think they’re going to be the next big social media influencer, this thriller is ready to show them that it might not be all it’s cracked up to be. The story follows six teen influencers who are invited to tour a private island theme park and resort before it opens. When they arrive, everything is perfect. The hotel is luxurious and the rides are intense, but they soon discover that the only thing not on the itinerary is them leaving the island. Ever.

Buy it: The Island at Amazon

17. Gabe in the After by Shannon Doleski

Gabe in the After book cover

Two years after a global pandemic, a group of children have relocated to a small island off the coast of Maine where they live together in a large mansion. There, they have school, grow their own food, and search the shore every day for other survivors. When Gabe finds Relle alone in the woods, he brings her back to the mansion, but he isn’t quite sure what to make of her. She is hopeful and optimistic and breathes life and laughter into the sad home the children have created for themselves. She encourages all of them to not give up on believing that there are more survivors—and maybe even a normal life—out there somewhere.

Buy it: Gabe in the After at Amazon

18. Muddle School by Dave Whamond

Muddle School book cover

One of the perfect graphic novels for 8th graders when they’ve had a bad day, a terrible week, or just need a good laugh. Dave had high hopes for his new middle school, but then everything went wrong. He’s about to give up and accept that he’s just going to spend middle school as a dork, but then he gets an idea: He’ll build a time machine for the school science fair, travel back to the first day of middle school, and redo all the embarrassing mistakes he made. This is a great book for 8th graders to relate to.

Buy it: Muddle School at Amazon

19. The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe

The Girls I've Been book cover- books for 8th graders

During a visit to the bank, 18-year-old Nora O’Malley finds herself in a hostage situation alongside her girlfriend and ex-boyfriend. To help everyone survive, she taps into the various personas she developed as the child of a con artist.

Buy it: The Girls I’ve Been at Amazon

20. The Lake by Natasha Preston

Book cover of the novel The Lake

Esme and Kayla were 8-year-old campers at Camp Pine Lake when something terrible happened, and they both swore never to tell anyone about it ever. Nine years later, they’re back at Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training … and the secret they’ve kept for all these years is coming back to haunt them.

Buy it: The Lake at Amazon

21. The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass

The Taking of Jake Livingston book jacket

As if life as one of the only Black students in a predominantly white prep school weren’t tough enough, Jake Livingston can also see dead people. Most of them are harmless, and he doesn’t mind helping them settle their affairs so they can move on. But one powerful, vengeful ghost has plans for Jake, and he has to hope that he can escape the ghost’s clutches.

Buy it: The Taking of Jake Livingston at Amazon

22. Lightlark by Alex Aster

Lightlark book jacket- books for 8th graders

Every 100 years, the island of Lightlark appears to host the Centennial, a deadly game that only the rulers of six realms are invited to play. The Centennial offers the six rulers one final chance to break the curses that have plagued their realms for centuries. Each ruler has something to hide. Each realm’s curse is uniquely wicked. To destroy the curses, one ruler must die. One of the perfect fantasy books for 8th graders who have already read The Hunger Games , Divergent , and all the other dystopian fantasy you could find for them!

Buy it: Lightlark at Amazon

23. Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor

Hotel Magnifique cover

Orphaned sisters 17-year-old Jani and 13-year-old Zosa find themselves suddenly employed at the Hotel Magnifique after most of their childhood was spent barely scraping by. Not only is the hotel magnificent, but it’s staffed by magicians who move the hotel to a new location, anywhere in the world, every midnight. Of course, things are almost never what they seem, and when Jani decides it’s time for her and Zosa to leave the hotel, she learns that the hotel might not be ready to let them leave. Ever.

Buy it: Hotel Magnifique at Amazon

24. Kings of B’more by R. Eric Thomas

Kings of BMore book cover

When he finds out that his best friend, Linus, is moving the summer before their junior year, Harrison can’t believe it. They were supposed to do all the important stuff together—standardized testing, applying for college, everything. With the countdown to Linus leaving looming, Harrison decides to embark on one last adventure together with his best friend. From their very first Pride festival to a rooftop dance party, the two vow to do everything that scares them—even saying goodbye to someone they love.

Buy it: Kings of B’more at Amazon

25. Does My Body Offend You? by Mayra Cuevas and Marie Marquardt

Does My Body Offend You book cover- books for 8th graders

Neither Malena nor Ruby expected to be the leaders of the school’s dress code rebellion. But the girls will have to face their own insecurities, biases, and privileges, and the ups and downs in their newfound friendship, if they want to stand up for their ideals and, ultimately, for themselves.

Buy it: Does My Body Offend You? at Amazon

Love these books for 8th graders? Check out our big list of 50 Refreshing and Relatable Books to Teach in Middle School for even more great books for 8th graders to add to your classroom library.

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best new books for 8th graders

50 Must-Read​ Books for Eighth Graders

by AuthorAmy

Welcome to Amy’s Bookshelf! Here, teachers will find carefully curated book lists for each grade level from kindergarten to twelfth grade. Moving forward, new lists filled with book recommendations will be published weekly. Sometimes, these lists will be organized around a specific theme, like a holiday or seasonal event. Other times, they will feature rockstar books – books practically guaranteed to get your students reading. 

Before jumping into reading recommendations, a few words about how books are selected.

First, it is so important that teachers prioritize reading interest over reading level. Students will often choose to read well above or below their reading level if they are particularly interested in a book or topic. Teachers only hurt students by limiting them to a specific selection of titles grouped according to an arbitrary number or level. Think of the books on these lists as starting places for you and your students, but if a student wants to read up (or down), that is a-ok.

Also, please note that these lists lean heavily toward modern selections as opposed to the classics many teachers are familiar with. A true renaissance is happening in children’s literature today, and the books coming out are truly exciting. One of the factors that makes this such an exciting time for kid lit is how diverse the selections are in terms of genre, characters and subject matter. These lists will feature fiction and nonfiction selection as well as graphic novels, novels written in verse, and more.

Any book list or classroom library worth its salt includes books featuring LGBTQIA+ characters, racially diverse characters, characters with disabilities, characters in the foster care system, characters from a wide variety of socioeconomic and religious backgrounds, and so on. Importantly, the diversity of the characters doesn’t always need to be the focus of the literature – in other words, a book featuring a black character or gay character doesn’t need to be about those individuals exploring their blackness or their gayness; those characters can have kid problems that apply to all children regardless of their race or sexual orientation. Similarly, students should be encouraged to read stories featuring people of diversity all year long – not just during a month set aside to celebrate a specific heritage.

One final note: today’s children’s literature does not shy away from frank discussions of gender, race, sex, sexuality, abuse, mental illness, and more – nor should it. I will not censor books from these lists based on these controversial areas. What books you recommend will depend on the specific district you work in and your clientele. I encourage you and your students to read widely without fear.

Eighth Grade

Eighth grade students are on the cusp of high school, so the books on this list are reflective of their level of increasing maturity. Many of the books on this list are appropriate for middle school and high school students.

Just so you know, Bored Teachers may get a small share of the sales made through the Amazon affiliate links on this page.

by Alan Gratz

Refugee by Alan Gratz

Refugee is one of those “everyone must read this book” books. It span ages and is equally powerful as a middle school or high school text. This is the journey of three children, all refugees, fleeing from a terror regime. Josef lives in Germany and flees from the Nazis with his family; Isabel tries to escape Cuba for American shores, and Mahmoud is a modern-day Syrian refugee. Though they are from different times in history, their stories intersect in surprising ways. 

2. Ready Player One

by Ernest Cline

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

In a dystopian world where the economy has crashed, people around the world log into the Oasis, a virtual reality platform. The creator of the Oasis, an eccentric billionaire, has died and left his fortune buried somewhere within the game. This story follows teenager Wade as he gets closer and closer to the treasure, a dangerous game when so many want what he is close to having. 

3. Journey by Aaron Becker

Journey by Aaron Becker

This is a wordless picture book that is about a girl who, using a magic marker, draws herself an escape from the ordinary into the extraordinary. It’s sort of a Harold’s Purple Crayon for adolescents and adults, with a more nuanced story and theme. 

4. Peter and the Starcatchers

by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

Humor authors Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson imagine an origin story for Peter Pan. How did Peter end up in Neverland and what happened to his parents? Why is Hook afraid of crocodiles? Where did Tinkerbell come from, and who are the lost boys? All these questions and more are answered, and this book is both a page-turner and laugh-out-loud funny. 

5. Keeper of the Night

by Kimberley Willis Holt

Keeper of the Night by Kimberley Willis Holt

Keeper of the Night takes place in Guam, and the story is richly populated with details enough to make the reader feel like they’ve stepped into Isabel’s world. Isabel’s mother has died, leaving her family reeling. Isabel wants to piece her family back together, and this is the story of how she does so. 

6. The Graveyard Book

by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Nobody Owens, or Bod, is a toddler who inadvertently escapes from Jack, who murders his family. Bod winds up in the local graveyard and is raised by ghosts. When Bod reaches adolscence, however, he wants to stretch his legs and explore away from his ghost family, a proposition that could prove very dangerous to him, indeed. 

7. Science Verse

by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith

Science Verse by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith

Science is delivered here in raucous poetic form. The author and illustrator combine to create an inna t e dance through science, from the food chain to the creation of a black hole. 

8. Moonshot

by Brian Floca

Moonshot by Brian Floca

Moonshot is Brian Floca’s retelling of the Apollo 11 moon landing in picture book form. Floca is well-known for creating picture books about the machines that humans take journeys in, and as with his other works, this one is marvelous. 

9. Al Capone Does My Shirts

by Gennifer Choldenko

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

Moose Flanagan lives on Alcatraz in the 1930s, when the prison housed the likes of Al Capone. Moose is one of 23 children living on the island because their parents work as prison guards or cooks or doctors. The kids get into all sorts of trouble on the small island, and this is a highly engaging story about those anctics. There are three other Alcatraz books after this one. 

10. Flying Lessons and Other Stories

edited by Ellen Oh

Flying Lessons and Other Stories edited by Ellen Oh

This short story collection is a compendium of stories from today’s top teen authors, and there’s something for everyone, including a short story in verse. 

11. Touching Spirit Bear

by Ben Mikaelsen

Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen

Instead of going to juvey, Cole Matthews is sent to the remote, Alaskan Circle Justice, a rehabilitation program for juvenile offenders like himself. Cole is attacked by a white bear, what is sometimes called a spirit bear, and left for dead. The attack changes Cole’s outlook and this is ultimately a story of redemption. 

12. Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White

by Melissa Sweet

Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet

American icon E.B. White is perhaps best known for Charlotte’s Web, but he was a prolific writer who wrote essays, contributed to the New Yorker, and published many other children’s books, too. This book is a lengthier picture book biography of White that includes many letters and other family artifacts that give readers an insight into this iconic American writer. 

13. Calling All Minds: How to Think and Create Like an Inventor

by Temple Grandin

Calling All Minds: How to Think and Create Like an Inventor by Temple Grandin

Temple Grandin, the renowned spokesperson for autism, shares her insight into the various ways a person can solve a problem. The message of this book is that there is more than one way to look at the world, to think about things, to use your imagination and to arrive at a new idea. Grandin does this by looking at inventions and the thought process behind them.

14. The Night Diary

by Veera Hiranandani

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani

Nisha watches her home country of India divide into India and Pakistan in 1947, and suddenly, Muslims and Hindus are being killed crossing the new border. Nisha’s family decides they, too, must cross, and she fears for her life during the long journey. 

15. Zen Shorts

by Jon J. Muth

Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth

A giant panda moves into the neighborhood and begins telling children ancient Zen tales in this picture book. Author/illustrator Jon Muth followed up the popular Zen Shorts with a number of other Zen tales (including Zen Ghosts and Zen Ties ) which are all worth reading. 

16. Bound by Ice

by Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace

Bound by Ice by Sandra Neil Wallace and Rich Wallace

The ship Jeannette sets sail for the Arctic from San Francisco, looking for a route to the North Pole. The ship becomes locked inside Arctic ice and sinks after two years adrift. The crew escape on lifeboats and make a harrowing journey back to civilization that not all survice. 

17. Super Women: Six Scientists Who Changed the World

by Laurie Lawlor

Super Women: Six Scientists Who Changed the World by Laurie Lawlor

Six mini biographies are included in this book. Each paints a portrait of a lesser-known woman scientist who relentlessly pursued her studies despite obstacles in her path, many of which were gender-based. The biographies are accompanied by photographs, and the whole package is an engaging read. 

18. Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets

by Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley, and Marjory Wentworth

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley, and Marjory Wentworth

Three of today’s well-known poets, Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth, write poems in honor of their favorite poets. 

19. Stormy Seas: Stories of young boat refugees

by Mary Beth Leatherdale and Eleanor Shakespeare

Stormy Seas: Stories of young boat refugees by Mary Beth Leatherdale and Eleanor Shakespeare

Contrasted with Refugee , at the start of this list, this book is a collection of five true stories about refugees who boarded a boat in search of a better life. Many infographics are included alongside the stories with more historical informatin. 

20. Strong Inside

(Young Readers Edition) by Andrew Maraniss

Strong Inside (Young Readers Edition) by Andrew Maraniss

Perry Wallace was the first black man to play college basketball in the Southeastern Conference. He accepted an offer to play ball at Vanderbilt and crossed into a world where hatred and racism were deeply entrenched. This is his story. 

21. The Magician and the Spirits: Harry Houdini

by Deborah Noyes

The Magician and the Spirits: Harry Houdini by Deborah Noyes

Harry Houdini, in addition to being a magician and stage performer, had a fascination for the occult. He spent much time investigating whether or not accounts of contact with “the other side” were real or just stage illusions like his own. 

22. Ender’s Game

by Orson Scott Card

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Set in the near future, the earth has been attacked by aliens called buggers. The earth must mount a resistance force before the aliens come back, and the military turns to elite child genuises. Andrew “Ender” Wiggin is the best of the best and he is taken from his family and trained to be the military general that will lead the fight against the aliens. 

23. The Hobbit

by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

A band of dwarves plus the unlikely companion of hobbit Bilbo Baggins set out to steal back treasure from the dangerous dragon Smaug. This classic novel is a prequel to the longer Lord of the Rings trilogy. 

24. Better Nate Than Ever

by Tim Federle

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle

Nate Foster wants to star in a broadway show more than he wants anything else in life, but he knows he will never get close if he remains in his homestate of Pennslyvania. He learns that there is an open casting call for a musical and makes a daring trip to New York City to be there for it. 

25. Not your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

Not your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

Jessica’s parents are superheroes, but Jessica is not. She just wants to get an internship to help her get into a good college. The internship she ends up getting is in the employ of her parents’ arch enemies but allows Jessica to work alongside Abby, who she has a secret crush on. 

26. The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

by Jacqueline Kelly

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

Calpurnia’s grandfather is a naturalist, and the two of them bond when she asks him some scientific questions about grasshoppers. Their relationship grows, as does Calpurnia’s interest in science. 

27. The House of the Scorpion

by Nancy Farmer

The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

Matt is a clone of El Patrón, who divided his cells in a test tube and then placed his developing embroyo in the uterus of a cow. The world sees Matt as an abomination but Matt didn’t ask to be created, and now that he’s here, he’s grappling with his identity and navigating the dangerous world occupied by El Patrón.

28. Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir

by Margarita Engle

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir by Margarita Engle

Margarita lives in Los Angeles, except when she lives in Cuba during the summer with her mother. Margarita loves Cuba and lives for those summer months. But the United States is trapped in the Cold War, and when Cuba becomes a central part of the conflict, Margarita’s two sides are suddenly at war. 

29. Forget Me Not

by Ellie Terry

 Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry

Calliope has never felt like she fits in, which is perhaps why she turns to the night skies. She loves astronomy, and the stars do not judge her for having Tourettes like the kids at school do. It’s only when Calliope’s mom moves her to another new school that she finally starts to make friends. 

30. The Outsiders

by S.E. Hinton

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

It’s the Socs versus the Greasers in this iconic novel about Ponyboy and his buddies. The boys live on the outskirts of society and sometimes scuffles break out between the two groups. One night, things go too far. 

31. The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things

by Carolyn Mackler

The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Mackler

Virginia is a plus-sized teenager, which makes everything about being a teenager harder. She feels pathetic next to her perfect family, especially her perfect brother. But then a serious accusation is levied against her brother, and the family’s world is rocked to its core. 

32. Monster by Walter Dean Myers

Monster by Walter Dean Myers

Steve Harmon is 16 and is being tried for murder after he was the lookout in the shooting of a drugstore owner. Steve, prior to the murder trial, was an amateur filmmaker so he transcribes his experiences, and Monster is the result. 

33. Lucky Broken Girl

by Ruth Behar

 Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar

Ruthie Mizrahi’s family has moved to the United States from Cuba. Here, she suffers a horrific accident that leaves her in a full body cast for an entire year. Because Ruthie can’t move, the book is mostly her inner monologue, which grows over the bedridden year.

34. The First Rule of Punk

by Celia C. Perez

The First Rule of Punk  by Celia C. Perez

Malú learns the first rule of punk from her dad, and it’s “be yourself.” Which is all fine until Malú colossally messes up her first day of school. She decides to try her dad’s advice and assembles a punk band of misfits, finding herself along the way. 

35. Breakout

by Kate Messner

Breakout by Kate Messner

Nora’s summer vacation plans are majorly messed up when the nearby prison experiences a high-profile prison break. Suddenly, the neighborhood is on house arrest. This is a multi-genre novel told in many formats including comics, poems, and letters. 

36. Flowers for Algernon

by Daniel Keyes

Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

Algernon is a lab mouse who has undergone surgery to increase his IQ, and soon this surgery is applied to Charlie Gordon. The operation successfully increases Charlie’s intelligence, but only temporarily, and he is forced to watch himself regress.  It’s a book both heartbreaking and important. 

37. The Alchemist: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel

by Michael Scott

The Alchemist: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel  by Michael Scott

This is the first in a six-book fantasy series. This particular installment is about Nicholas Flamel, the famed alychemist. Legend has it, he did not die in 1418, as his tomb states, but that he lives on today making the elixir that keeps him immortal. But when a modern day villian sets out to steal Flamel’s magic book, two kids step in to stop him. 

38. The Westing Game

by Ellen Raskin

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

Millionaire Samuel W. Westing dies at the beginning of the book and the tenants in his building are named as heirs in his will. The tenants are paired off and told the first team to solve the puzzle contained in the will will inherit Westing’s entire fortune. 

39. A Monster Calls

by Patrick Ness

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

At the beginning of the book, protagonist Conor is fighting a number of monsters – bullies at school, a monster in his nightmares, and the grief associated with an ill family member. Then a real monster shows up and Conor is forced to face some truths within himself. 

40. Fallen Angels

by Walter Dean Myers

Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers

Perry volunteers for the Vietnam War, and he is sent to the front lines where he must face the horrors of war. 

41. When You Reach Me

by Rebecca Stead

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

Miranda receives mysterious notes that predict the future. So, when the notes instruct her to write a letter, she feels she must do as she is told. There is a nice mystery woven in, and some time travel to boot. 

42. Mortal Engines

by Philip Reeve

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

In this fascinating and creative futuristic world, cities have been turned into rolling behemoths that hunt down and tear apart other cities. This is the first book in a four-part series. There is lots of world-building and some excellent character development. 

43. The Book of Boy

by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

A protagonist known as Boy is bullied for his hump and so spends his time along in the woods communing with the animals. He is found by a man named Secondus who hires Boy as a servant. Secondus has a mission, which involves thieving ancient relics with Boy’s help. 

44. Willa of the Wood

by Robert Beatty

Willa of the Wood by Robert Beatty

Willa is a night spirit, and she hates humans for the havoc the wreak on nature. She steals from humans as revenge, but one day winds up hurt, leaving her vulnerable during daylight hours. 

45. Grenade

Grenade by Alan Gratz

Grenade is the story of two young men. Hideki, who is in the Japanese army during WWII, and Ray, an American soldier in Japan. The two collide with orders to kill each other and they each must make a choice. 

46. Olivia Twist

by Lorie Langdon

Olivia Twist by Lorie Langdon

In this spin on Oliver Twist, Olivia is raised among Long street thieves until her uncle takes her into high society after a thieving episode goes wrong. But even though she is allowed to live a life of comfort, she cannot forget the London orphans and so sneaks away to offer her help. 

47. The Seventh Most Important Thing

by Shelley Pearsall

 The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall

Arthur finds himself facing a judge after he threw a brick at a garbage truck and hit the Junk Man in the arm. The Junk Man offers to let Arthur do community service with him, who sets Arthur to combing through trash searching for a list of seven important things. 

48. The Thing About Jellyfish

by Ali Benjamin

The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin

Suzy’s best friend dies in a drowning accident, but Suzy is convinced the accident was caused by a jellyfish sting. In her grief, she retreats into her imagination and comes up with a plan to prove her theory correct. 

49. Summer of the Gypsy Moths

by Sara Pennypacker

Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker

Aunt Louise has taken in her niece Stella, and Stella loves living with her aunt. Until that is, Louise opens her home to another foster child, Angel, who Stella does not get along with. Aunt Louise dies and the two girls decide not to tell anyone. 

50. Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart

Lily and Dunkin are both dealing with heavy situations. Lily was born a boy but knows she’s a girl, whereas Dunkin has bipolar disorder. The two become friends and help each other cope. 

Other book lists from Amy’s bookshelf you’ll love: 

  • 50 Must-Read Books for Kindergarteners
  • 50 Must-Read Books For First Graders
  • 50 Must-Read Books for Second Graders
  • 50 Must-Read Books For Third Graders
  • 50 Must-Read Books for Fourth Graders
  • 50 Must-Read Books For Fifth Graders
  • 50 Must-Read Books For Sixth Graders
  • 50 Must-Read Books for Seventh Graders

50 Must-Read​ Books for Eighth Graders

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83 Brilliant Books For 8th Grade Readers

November 8, 2023 //  by  Lauren Du Plessis

It’s no secret that trying to motivate middle school students to read can be a tough challenge, even for the most experienced teacher. Thankfully, our collection of 83 carefully curated books for 8th graders will captivate even your most reluctant readers! These high-interest choices include everything from the classics to cozy mysteries and globe-trekking adventure stories. Your students are sure to find a winner! Read on to find the next 8th grade ‘bestseller’ for your classroom library!

1. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

This powerful novel is reminiscent of The Diary of Anne Frank and grapples with the same tough issues. Despite the serious subject matter, your eighth graders will enjoy getting to know two young boys who become the most unsuspecting of friends in this moving novel set during the Holocaust. With a devastating end, this truly is a remarkably written book.

2. A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park

A Long Walk to Water illustrates the lives of two Sudanese children. The novel sees Nya and Salva face many dangers in a feat to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. Your students will benefit from thought-provoking discussions that are sure to arise from this gripping story.

3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Set in Nazi Germany, your kiddies will learn how Liesel Meminger, a foster child discovers a blissful world between the spines of books – away from constant bombing raids. Reading becomes her escape, and students will learn about its power to transport readers like Liesel to magical worlds.

4. The Giver by Lois Lowry

Your readers will be captivated by twelve-year-old Jonas who has his life turned upside down when he receives his life assignment – taking on the role of The Giver. After the world’s memories have been bestowed upon him, Jonas soon learns that his seemingly ideal world isn’t as wonderful as he once thought.

5. Shadow Jumper by J.M. Forster

For your eighth graders who love a mystery adventure story, Shadow Jumper is sure to be a winner! Jack Phillips is on a mission to find his missing scientist father, but will his rare allergic condition interfere with his search? Jump into the action to find out! 

6. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The Outsiders is a powerful coming-of-age classic that is sure to be relatable to your 8th graders! Ponyboy and his gang of close-knit friends stand up to a gang of snooty rich kids in this timeless tale about bravery and friendship.

7. The Finest Hours by Michael J. Tougias & Casey Sherman

The true story of a shipwreck and dramatic rescue in The Finest Hours will captivate your non-fiction buffs! Explore the heart-rending tale of a shipwreck and the four brave men who managed to save the stranded sailors. Your students will also love comparing the book and movie versions of this harrowing story!

8. Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Long Way Down is the gripping story of fifteen-year-old Will who is grappling with the murder of his brother. This is a good choice for your readers ready to tackle the serious issue of gun violence. Journey with Will as he considers whether or not to avenge his brother’s death.

9. The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

The Cruel Prince is a wondrous book about a mortal girl who finds herself entangled in the tribulations of a mysterious and enchanted land, the High Court of Faerie. Your eighth graders will love following Jude as she battles the wicked Prince Cardan and fights to save her sisters.

10. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

This New York Times Bestseller and National Book Award Finalist will grab the attention of your kids who enjoy stories about complex characters. After losing her seemingly perfect older sister, rambunctious Julia learns to navigate life outside of her sister’s shadow – all while uncovering shocking secrets about her sister’s past.

11. We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han

The final book in ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’ trilogy, We’ll Always Have Summer, continues the theme of young love and is perfect for eighth graders who enjoy a romantic read.  Will Conrad have the courage to tell Belly his feelings, or will he lose her to Jeremiah forever?

12. You Have a Match by Emma Lord

Your readers will love this wild ride with Abby who signs up for a DNA service and discovers that she has an Instagram-famous sister that she knew nothing about! Eager to know more, Abby decides to meet her sister, Savannah, at camp and uncover the secret of Savannah’s adoption.

13. We Are Not From Here by Jenny Torres Sanchez

The touching stories in We Are Not from Here are inspired by the experiences of migrants. Your readers ready for more serious issues will enjoy following the journey of three teens who escape the dangers of their hometowns only to face more challenges on their way to the US-Mexico border.

14. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

For your eighth-grade readers who love stories that pull on the heartstrings, I’ll Give You the Sun is a humorous yet tear-jerking read. It follows the tale of two twins, Jude and Noah, who were once extremely close, but who have now been torn apart because of an unsuspected disaster.

15. Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt

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Have your readers embark on the journey of a lifetime with the four Tillerman children after their mother abandons them in a Connecticut parking lot. Follow the children as they try to make their way to their Great Aunt Cilla’s house, but will they make it?

16. House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

For your readers who love the supernatural, this magical read stars the uniquely beautiful seventeen-year-old, Iris, who yearns to belong. When her sister, Grey, mysteriously goes missing, Iris and her other sister, Vivi, discover the secrets of their past and learn that not everything is as it seems.

17. Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Echo is a well-crafted and heart-warming read that revolves around a harmonica, a prophecy, and a long-standing promise. Let your kiddos dive into this tale of finding friendship, overcoming life’s challenges, and pursuing your rightful destiny.

18. The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Your eighth-grade readers looking for adventure will love this heart-racing read about a group of memory-wiped strangers who must escape from the center of an ever-changing maze. Their only hope for survival is to devise a plan of escape after receiving a message that reads, ‘Remember. Survive. Run’. 

19. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This gripping read inspired by a dystopian-like world is sure to be a hit with your class! The Hunger Games is an annual event held in a metropolis of wealth called the Capitol of Panem-. Twelve representatives from outlying districts fight to the death until only one victor remains.

20. Downriver by Will Hobbs

If your eighth graders love wild adventure stories, this read is sure to deliver! At Discovery Unlimited, an outdoor education program, seven teenagers borrow the company’s rafting gear and face nerve-wracking consequences as they make their way downriver and through the Grand Canyon. 

21. Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition by Anne Frank

For more serious eighth graders, The Diary of a Young Girl is Anne Frank’s account of living in a secret annex while hiding from the Gestapo. For two years, Anne and her family faced the fear of being found and the challenges of hunger and living so closely together.

22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Your kids will continue to be enthralled by this timeless classic about siblings on a quest to find their missing scientist father. Meg Murry and her brother Charles Wallace are joined by the most popular boy in high school as they explore new worlds and uncover their father’s whereabouts! 

23. The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

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Let your readers discover the courage of 11-year-old Parvana in this story set during Taliban rule in Kabul, Afghanistan.  After her father is forced to stop working, Parvana saves her family by disguising herself as a boy so that she can work and become the family’s breadwinner! 

24. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

All the Bright Places will remind your eighth graders of the beauty of life. This book tells the story of the chance encounter of two teenagers who meet on the ledge of a tower. Despite different outlooks on life, they fall in love while marveling at the adventure of life.

25. A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey

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Send your readers on a transatlantic journey with this heartwarming read! When nothing goes right, Lila’s parents send her off to live in Winchester, England. She meets a teashop clerk named Orion Maxwell and begins to realize England might not be too bad after all. 

26. You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson

Striving to be accepted to the prestigious college of Pennington, there isn’t anything Liz Lighty won’t do to make her dream come true. In need of financial aid, she decides to run for prom queen in hopes of landing her school’s scholarship. Your readers will enjoy this spirited protagonist!  

27. Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender

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Felix Ever After is a beautiful read about Felix and his journey to self-discovery and authentic identity. This coming-of-age story has a strong message that will inspire your eighth-grade readers to take a stand for themselves and never accept anything less than they deserve!

28. They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

With this title, your students are guaranteed to be curious! Mateo and Rufus wake up only to be told they only have one day to live. The author narrates a special day for these two strangers- who bond over trying to live their final 24 hours to the fullest!

29. Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

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Introduce your kids to Yadriel, a transgender high school student. Yadriel accidentally summons his ghost of a cousin, Julien, for help to share his true gender with his parents. As time goes on, the cousins become close, and eventually, Yadriel doesn’t want his cousin to leave.

30. The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar

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With themes of friendship, identity, and courage, this book is sure to strike a chord with your kiddos. Flávia and Nishat must navigate their relationship in a way like never before. Nishat risks not being accepted by her family, but she must make a choice about whether to share her true feelings for Flávia.

31. Not My Problem by Ciara Smyth

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Not My Problem will make your readers pause and consider their interactions with and influence on others. In this brilliant coming-of-age novel, Aideen helps fellow classmates solve their personal issues in unwitting ways, but she struggles to solve any of her own problems! 

32. The Voting Booth by Brandy Colbert

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This novel is the perfect choice for your eighth graders who are passionate about social justice! When Duke Crenshaw is turned away at the voting booth, Marva Sheridan makes it her mission to ensure that Duke’s right to vote is upheld. On a path to help shape democracy, Duke and Marva find unexpected love.

33. Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabby Rivera

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This is a novel that was written for your students who like to live life a little on the wild side! Juliet feels more alive and free than ever. After she comes out to her parents, she sets off for a summer of motorcycling, love, and partying while also finding a place for herself in the world.

34. Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales

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Told with humor, Only Mostly Devastated is a book for your eighth graders who would enjoy a story about a boy-meets-boy teenage romance. Will and Ollie must navigate the shaky waters of their relationship and learn to trust again. They’re sure to love this super relatable tale about the trials and tribulations of teenage life!

35. Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales

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Your students will love the drama of this super enjoyable read. Darcy secretly offers love advice to her classmates until her anonymity is threatened when the grade’s jock catches her collecting letters from a locker! She is then forced into helping him get back together with his girlfriend.

36. We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

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This award-winning read will appeal to your readers interested in history and social justice. After their lives are forever changed by the mass U.S. incarcerations of World War II, fourteen teenagers rally together in a fight against injustice and blatant racism. In doing so, the teens become closer than ever as they create a community for themselves.

37. Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan

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Hot Dog Girl spans both humor and romance and is sure to delight your readers! Elouise works as a hot dog girl at her local fair and finds herself pining over Nick the pirate. The only problem is that Nick has a girlfriend and hardly seems to notice poor Elouise!

38. With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

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This novel from acclaimed author Elizabeth Acevedo belongs in your eighth-grade library! Acevedo tells the story of a teenager who reclaims her power after having a child during her freshman year. Follow Emoni as she graduates, discovers a new passion for cooking, and becomes a chef!

39. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

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Your kiddies are sure to relate to teenager, Xiomara, who has so much to get off her chest, but has no way to vent! To find a creative outlet, she decides to join the school’s poetry society but must keep this a secret from her rather strict Mami.

40. Internment by Samira Ahmed

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Your readers will be intrigued and inspired by courageous seventeen-year-old Layla Amin who is forced into a Muslim-American internment camp with her parents. In a bid to fight for her freedom, she leads a revolt against the guards and the camp director.

41. Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From by Jennifer De Leon

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Follow Liliana as she fights to stay true to herself amidst a world of wealthy privilege! Proud of her LatinX heritage, Liliana must be courageous as she grapples with the divide between her new suburban high school and the inner-city home of her Boston neighborhood. Your class will be rooting for her the whole way through this great read!

42. Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson

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Transport your readers to 1998 Brooklyn! In this fantastic story, three teens plan to promote the rap music of their deceased friend by pretending he’s still alive. How long can this rambunctious group keep up their lie when tensions start brewing and secrets begin to be revealed?

43. Can’t Take That Away by Steven Salvatore

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Passionate readers who fiercely support equal rights will find a friend in Carey Parker, the protagonist at the center of this tender yet powerful novel. Fed up with the discrimination faced at high school, this queer teen stands up for what is right and invites others to do the same!

44. The Sky Blues by Robbie Couch

Sky Baker plans to ask his crush, Ali, to prom in just 30 days at the annual beach party! Sky’s plans are ruined when a homophobic hacker releases an email detailing his plan. Your techies will be hooked as the next 30 days quickly turn into a mission to expose the hacker.

45. It Goes Like This by Miel Moreland

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Your students will relate to the trials of friendship explored in this fantastic novel. Members of a queer pop band formed in middle school must reconcile with the past when a tragic storm in their hometown brings them together for one last show. Find out if their friendship will stand the test of time! 

46. Love & Other Natural Disasters by Misa Sugiura

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Your eighth-grade rom-com fans will enjoy Love & Other Natural Disasters . In this queer romance, Nozomi is eager to pose as the girlfriend of gorgeous Willow. But not everything goes according to plan in this plot to make Willow’s ex jealous when Nozomi finds herself falling unexpectedly in love.

47. The Fascinators by Andrew Eliopulos

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The Fascinators is sure to charm your kiddos with its magical plot! Despite living in a place that shuns magic, Sam, Delia, and James bond over their participation in the school’s magic club, but soon find that even magic can’t fix the obstacles they are about to face!  

48. House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune

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Lovers of adventure stories will enjoy this fascinating tale about Linus, the caretaker of an orphanage who is summoned on a mission that will take him to a magical island. Your students will enjoy the twists and turns of Linus’s journey and appreciate the messages this novel offers its readers. 

49. The Marvelous by Claire Kann

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Your gamers and readers alike will be thrilled by The Marvelous ! They’ll follow six teenagers who are gathered together by famed heiress, Jewel, in a competition to win a life-changing prize. The players quickly learn that more than money is at stake as they go head to head in a game spanning Jewel’s entire estate!

50. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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Your readers who are ready to tackle themes of identity, friendship, and family will soak up the beautiful story of Aristotle and Dante. These two lonely boys form an unforgettable friendship after meeting at a public swimming pool. This tale eloquently depicts the importance of friendship in discovering your own self.

51. Rules For Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell & Katie Cotugno

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This empowering tale is all about Marin who reclaims her power after being sexually assaulted by her English teacher. When no one believes her story, she decides to take it to the school newspaper – an act that starts an inspiring feminist club! This read is perfect for your kids who are ready for a more sophisticated story.

52. The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

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Sal, once a confident, secure teenager, is suddenly questioning everything about life, his identity, and his place in the world. Your students will connect with relatable, humorous, and comforting characters while journeying with Sal as he navigates the universal questions of life. 

53. The Infinite Noise by Lauren Shippen

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Your eighth graders will be fascinated by star running back Caleb’s plight to navigate a  special ability allowing him to be extremely empathetic. Caleb’s empathy leads to a new friendship with his classmate, Adam, and the realization that his new ability to connect with others might also be dangerous. 

54. Me, Frida, and the Secret of the Peacock Ring by Angela Cervantes

Have your kiddies join Paloma Marquez on her search to connect with her late father and his Mexican roots. While traveling in Mexico, she relives her father’s memory and helps two siblings hunt for Frida Kahlo’s missing ring – a find that could lead to a reward and the adoration of all of Mexico!

55. Greenglass House by Kate Milford

best new books for 8th graders

This Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Mystery winner is perfect for your readers who love a cozy mystery. On a wintry night, Milo, the inn owner’s son, greets the arrival of guests who hold secrets about Greenglass House’s past. The story ends with a twist that is sure to leave your kiddos wanting more!

56. When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

best new books for 8th graders

When Lily moves in with her sick grandmother, the family’s Korean folktales come to life. The magical tigers of the stories have a history with Lily’s grandmother and demand retribution for her past actions. Will Lily make a deal with the tiger or find another way to right the wrongs of the past? Let your 8th graders read to find out!

57 . Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata

Kira-Kira (Newbery Medal Book) By Cynthia Kadohata 1st Edition HCDJ Very  Good 9780689856396 | eBay

Kira-Kira is an excellent choice for drama lovers. Readers follow Katie Tekeshima and her sister, Lynn, as they move from a Japanese community in Iowa to the unfamiliar Deep South of Georgia. Your readers will be hooked as the family navigates difficulties and finds hope in the future through the idea of ‘glittering’ or kira-kira.  

58. Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids by Cynthia Leitich Smith

best new books for 8th graders

Your kiddos will love this book all about the strength of community and Native pride. This collection of unique stories highlights the experiences of young Native people from the perspective of new and established First Nation writers. The stories take root at a large Michigan powwow where Native families gather to celebrate their heritage and honor their traditions. 

59. No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen

best new books for 8th graders

Dive into this powerful story about poverty, homelessness, and family life with your class. No Fixed Address is a story about Felix, a teenager living out of a car with his mom who enters a game show competition to win a cash prize. This novel is perfect for a read-aloud that is guaranteed to lead to rich discussions.

60. Girl of the Southern Sea by Michelle Kadarusman

best new books for 8th graders

Girl of the Southern Sea is the choice for those longing for an adventurous and faraway setting. Your readers will meet Nia who dreams of a life beyond the slums of Jakarta. She devises a plan to change her circumstances, but how will she reach her dreams while facing ongoing obstacles? 

61. As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katouh

best new books for 8th graders

This novel is a moving story about a teenager living and working in war-torn Syria. Her choice of whether to stay or flee for a new chance at life elsewhere is made all the more difficult when Khawf – the physical manifestation of her fears – adds pressure to her decision.

62. The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman

best new books for 8th graders

Let your students follow the inspirational story of sisters, Viji and Rukuu, who escape from an abusive father. While their new, temporary home under a bridge is not easy, it provides the sisters with new relationships, independence, and the confidence that they can care for themselves and each other.

63. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George

When Julie’s family life becomes untenable, she leaves her Alaskan village in search of better things. However, when she becomes lost in the icy tundra, she has to rely on a curious wolf pack to survive. Julie of the Wolves is an excellent addition to your middle school classroom for your readers who love survival stories!

64. Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

Out of My Mind is a classic coming-of-age story that is sure to resonate with your kiddies. They’ll follow the story of a brilliant young girl with a photographic memory who is also navigating preteen life with cerebral palsy. Her world dramatically changes when she acquires a machine that helps her express her complex thoughts and feelings to her family and friends.

65. Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Have your more serious readers, check out Counting by 7s ! It’s an emotional but uplifting read about a young girl who quiets her anxious mind through routines like counting by 7s. When she loses her parents, she must face her fears and learn to form connections with others.

66. Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds

best new books for 8th graders

Look Both Ways consists of ten short stories that diverge to detail the lives of individual teenagers and converge again upon a sudden shared experience (a falling school bus!). Add this novel to your eighth-grade reading list to inject a little humor into your reading time!

67. Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

best new books for 8th graders

Let your kids lose themselves in this bestselling commentary on the growing pains of preteen friendship. Bridge, Emily, and Tab must learn to navigate the new stresses of seventh grade, with personal traumas, budding romances, and strained loyalties that are all battling to take precedence over their friendship.

68. Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf

Who knew Scrabble could be this tense? In this teen thriller that’s centered around a Scrabble competition, Najwa Bakri is mourning the death of her best friend. But when her friend’s Instagram suddenly begins posting again, Najwa begins to wonder if her friend’s death may not have been an accident.

69. A Break with Charity: A Story about the Salem Witch Trials by Ann Rinaldi

This is the perfect choice for your historical fiction lovers! A Break with Charity is a compelling read about the time of the Salem Witch Trials. The main character, Susanna, has to determine how to protect her own family from the lies and accusations being thrown around. It’s a “must-have” for your eighth-grade reading list!

70. The Rig by Joe Ducie

best new books for 8th graders

Will is a highly intelligent but troubled young man whose criminal activities have landed him on the Rig, a high-security facility that is supposedly impossible to escape. Supernatural elements soon come into play in this science fiction book as the true nature of the prison is revealed. Your 8th graders will love this interesting and mysterious read!

71. A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

best new books for 8th graders

This series may not be the most challenging for your 8th graders, but A Series of Unfortunate Events is a captivating tale certain to pique the interest of even the most reluctant readers. Follow the unlucky adventures of three orphaned siblings as they search for answers about their parents’ untimely and suspicious deaths. 

72. Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare

Jump into these thrilling fantasy offerings from Cassandra Clare! In this gripping series, Clary enters an alternate world of mythical creatures in order to find her missing mom. She’s soon pulled deep into the drama of this mysterious place, linking up with the warrior Shadowhunters and fighting against demons who want her eliminated.

73. The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey

best new books for 8th graders

Introduce your kiddos to Cassie, in this dystopian novel of survival. She is one of the few remaining humans on planet Earth after apocalyptic waves of destruction wreak havoc on Earth and dangerous beings arrive to wipe out humanity. When she meets Evan, another survivor, she must decide whether to take a new chance at life by learning to trust others again.

74. Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson

best new books for 8th graders

The first book in a fantasy trilogy follows the escapades of Kelsier, a rebel who fights against a tyrannical ruler in a kingdom perpetually full of ash. Magical metals, compelling characters, and vivid imagery make this novel and series a favorite among YA fantasy readers. They’ll love the fact that there are another two books waiting for them once they’ve finished this first read!

75. The Selection by Kiera Cass

best new books for 8th graders

This YA romance series follows the Bachelor-esque “Selection,” where 35 girls compete for a chance at love with Prince Maxon. Contestant America, however, wishes that she had never been selected; that is until she actually meets the prince! This dramatic series is perfect for any of your readers who love a bit of fairy tale and romance!

76. Entwined by Heather Dixon

Based on Grimm’s Fairytale of the “Twelve Dancing Princesses,” Entwined follows Azalea, whose family tragedy spurs a deal with the mysterious Keeper. When Keeper’s promise turns out to be a trap, Azalea must find a way to save her family. This is perfect for your 8th graders who love fantasy!

77. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Use this post-apocalyptic series to explore themes of vanity and loyalty with your class. Tally is set to undergo a mandatory surgery to turn her into a “Pretty” on her 16th birthday when she discovers that there is more behind the surgery than aesthetics.

78. Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit

Tuck Everlasting is definitely one to add to your middle-grade book lists! Winnie must decide whether to live life as a mere mortal or join the Tucks, who have found immortality in a magical nearby spring. This heartwarming tale is sure to be one that your kids will love!

79. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice will stretch your advanced readers’ minds by exposing them to the twists and turns of classic literature. This novel also provides an opportunity for your kiddos to compare a classic version of Elizabeth and Darcy’s epic love story with contemporary retellings. 

80. Slider by Pete Hautman

Slider is a coming-of-age story about David, a 14-year-old caught in a serious bind! When an accidental credit card charge sets in motion a series of events involving a competitive eating competition, he must win the grand prize. This humorous and touching novel will delight your readers.  

81. A First Time for Everything by Dan Santat

best new books for 8th graders

Your class will love this sweet novel detailing the life and middle school trials of Dan, an awkward but quintessential ‘good kid’, that is based on the author’s own experiences. Thrust from his comfortable family life to a class trip to Europe where he is on his own, Dan experiences several life-changing “firsts”. 

82. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

best new books for 8th graders

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a delightful and beautifully written story about a family’s day-to-day life in a NYC borough. From the beginning of this novel and through every dramatic turn, Francie’s determination and wit make her a lovable character that your readers will champion.

83. Anne of Green Gables

best new books for 8th graders

Anne of Green Gables is a timeless classic, yet even your contemporary readers will adore the spunk and tenacity of the protagonist, Anne. On a deeper level, this book explores the themes of belonging, friendship, and the quest to find oneself amidst the throes of young adulthood. 

Instill a love for reading in your 8th grade students by encouraging independent reading. Reading allows children to learn about the experiences of others and therefore foster better empathy. Furthermore, they gain valuable knowledge and expand their vocabulary as well as explore more imaginative and creative thought patterns.

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Home » Reading lists for Middle School children » 8th grade reading books for children aged 13-14

8th grade reading books for children aged 13-14

Grade 8 books – this list of suggested reading books has been carefully selected by educators and librarians for junior high and middle school students aged 13-14. There is a range of exciting and thought-provoking books to suit all abilities in the 8th grade and over the course of a year, these titles should inspire both those who are reluctant to read, and also challenge high achieving pupils. This list of 8th grade reading recommendations includes titles by Gerald Durrell, J.R.R. Tolkien, Sharon Creech,Angie Thomas, Malala Yousafzai, Mark Twain and Mary Shelley.

Books for 8th graders

Books for Grade 8 – our recommendations

Northwind by gary paulsen.

When a plague forces Leif, an orphan, to flee for his life in a canoe with barely any food, he embraces his newfound freedom and grows to love the wide open seas and the Norwegian coast. Learning to forage, and live off the land and sea, he feels at home amongst the wildlife. It’s a gripping story of resilience, determination and survival. Highly recommended.

Northwind by Gary Paulsen

All Summer Long by Hope Larson

When Austin returns from summer soccer camp everything is different. 13-year-old Bina cannot understand it – they used to do everything together. Will they be able to work things out, or will Bina’s new friendship with Austin’s sister change their relationship? A thought-provoking insight into the complex teen mind, growing up, and how people change. The graphic novel format and relatable characters will appeal to less confident readers.

All Summer Long by Hope Larson

As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katouh

Salama’s normal teenage life seems long ago as she finds herself helping in a hospital in wartorn Syria. Will she stay to help those in need, or will she flee to ensure her survival? Dealing with unimaginable fear Salama is an inspirational character and As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow is a brilliantly written, life-affirming, and heartbreaking story that is perfect for book club discussion.

As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow by Zoulfa Katouh

Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer

Ideal for middle-grade readers, this book has won numerous awards. Hope finds herself helping her aunt to run a diner in rural Wisconsin – a long way from lively New York. Her friendship with G.T. Stoop, the diner’s owner, develops into a coming of age story of trust and truth.

Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

The first in the ‘Corfu Trilogy’, this book tells the story of Gerald Durrell’s childhood experiences for five years on the island of Corfu and the wildlife and animals he keeps. His larger than life relatives and the colorful characters encountered make this a funny novel bound to appeal to middle graders interested in nature and unconventional family life.

My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell - books for 8th grade

Animal Farm by George Orwell

In this classic allegory, the animals take over the farm. They tried to create a perfect world where everybody is valued and treated equally however things don’t go entirely to plan. Written as an antithesis to controlling totalitarianism this is a book every teenager should read.

Animal Farm by George Orwell

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

An evocative and humorous story based on the author’s own life. When Junior, a talented artist, realizes that he wants to follow his dream, his life changes completely when he joins a new high school where he is the only Indian on the campus. A modern classic. A good book for 8th grade reading group discussion.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

A rollercoaster of a story about the life of young Huckleberry Finn and his friend Tom Sawyer and the shenanigans they get up to on the banks of the Mississippi River. This book features some controversial themes including his father’s alcoholism and the treatment of Miss Watson slave, Jim. A story, that once read, will never be forgotten.

Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

Collated by her father Otto, after the second world war, this is the diary of Anne Frank who, aged between 13 and 16 wrote about being in hiding from the Nazis and Amsterdam. Poignant and moving, this is a book that should be on every high school curriculum. Arguably one of the most important books written in the 20th century.

Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

A gripping and moving story about a misfit and awkward teen, Dill, who lives in a small community Bible belt Tennessee. When deals father becomes a hated figure, Dill cannot cope and relies on the support of his two best friends. A heart-rending and powerful story about forgiveness and redemption.

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

The Hate you Give by Angie Thomas

A multi-award-winning novel about Starr Carter, a teenager who has one foot in the exclusive preppy world of her school and the other foot in the deprived neighborhood of her home. When her best friend is shot by a police officer, she is the only person who knows what really happened. A startlingly powerful young adult novel. A great book to discuss in 8th grade reading clubs.

The Hate you Give by Angie Thomas

Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin

A powerful psychological and unrelenting study of growing up in an abusive environment. When the protagonist, a 14-year-old boy, realizes that his family is not all that it seems, he starts to rebel against his self-righteous preacher stepfather in this gritty landmark first novel set in Harlem.

Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin

2001 by Arthur C Clarke

When a scientist discovers a mysterious object on the Moon, mankind embarks on an expedition to the furthest reaches of space in search of an alien civilization. However, the voyage is a slowly building battle between man and computer, heading towards an inevitable catastrophe.

2001 by Arthur C Clarke

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad

A disgraced naval officer redeems himself by protecting villagers from a local bandit. Written as a series of manuscripts told by a third party, using time shifts, this is a great book for eighth-graders to study.

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

A unique and genre-defying young adult novel that is perfectly suited to grade 8 book clubs. Set in the “Elsewhere”, a world where angels battle mythical creatures, Karou and Akiva are drawn, as if by magic, from the opposite sides of the conflict into a love story – and perhaps the only hope for peace.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

A more challenging read for grade 8 students, Life of Pi chronicles 16-year-old Pi, the only survivor of a shipwreck. His only companions in the lifeboat are a hyena, and orangutan, and a huge tiger. Memorable, and beautifully written.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Destined to become an important work in the 21st century, Malala’s autobiographical story takes her from a victim of Taliban in 2012 to becoming the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. An inspirational and motivating book which is bound to appeal to middle school and junior high school students in grade 8.

I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

Isabella’s new life in Forks, Washington takes an unexpected turn when a boy she is attracted to turns out to be a vampire. Extremely readable and popular, this five volume set is a great way to reignite the fire of reading in disenchanted teenagers.

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer

Nimona by ND Stevenson

This is no ordinary historical story about dragons and heroes. Nimona is a classic graphic novel in the making – peppered with ironic observations and quick, pointed humor that will appeal to 8th grader readers. Stunningly illustrated.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson

The Other Side of Truth by Beverley Naidoo

When Sadie and Femi’s journalist father refuses to keep quiet about corruption among the military rulers in Nigeria, their mother is suddenly killed, and they have to flee to London. This study of what it is to be displaced and a refugee is a modern classic. This is a book that will stimulate discussion and debate in 8th grade reading groups.

The Other Side of Truth by Beverley Naidoo

Parrot in the Oven by Victor Martinez

14-year-old Manny wants respect, he wants to prove himself and he wants to kiss a girl. This multi-award-winning novel follows his journey in the face of discrimination and poverty. Poignant and memorable.

Parrot in the Oven by Victor Martinez

Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly

In a world of nightmares, magic dreams and demons, mermaid Seraphina has to fight for peace between warring nations. She is also set on avenging her parents and wooing a prince. Teen drama and adventure on a grand and underwater scale.

Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

When alchemist and scientist Victor Frankenstein misguidedly attempts to reanimate a creature from dead body parts, he creates a monster that threatens his very existence. An accessible classic gothic horror with a lightning-quick pace that will appeal to teen readers.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Mosquitoland by David Arnold

Teenage Mim is forced to move across the state to live with her father after a nasty divorce. But when she learns her mother is ill, she boards a greyhound and throws caution to the wind in this epic coming of age YA drama. An ideal book for 8th grade reading groups.

Mosquitoland by David Arnold

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

A collection of science-fiction page-turners that will prove popular with reluctant 8th-grade readers. A survivor of a crippling alien attack, Cassie is desperate to save her missing brother. She is so desperate that she is willing to go to extreme lengths to find him.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

A quest for a magic ring that grants the wearer huge power dominates this epic high fantasy tale of good vs evil. Popular amongst teens, this novel was recently turned into a series of blockbuster movies.

Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

The One and Future King by TH White

An epic and spellbinding retelling of the legend of King Arthur told in five parts – King Arthur and Camelot; Merlin and Owl and Guinevere, beasts who talk and men who fly and tales of knights, wizardry, and war. Great for students interested in history, myth, and legend.

The One and Future King by TH White

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler by Phillip Hoose

A fascinating and inspirational story about a group of brave middle grade aged children and their acts of defiance in Denmark during World War Two. Based on a true story.

The Boys Who Challenged Hitler by Phillip Hoose

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

A classic tale of betrayal, imprisonment and slow, beautiful revenge. Originally written for weekly serialization, this book is gripping and pacy and it might well be the first 100,000 plus story your teen will be captivated by. It’s also fantastic to listen to as an audiobook.

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creech

The prequel to Walk Two Moons, Absolutely Normal Chaos follows 13-year-old Mary Lou’s summer vacation – an unforgettable summer of adventure, gossip, and burgeoning romance. A page-turner that is ideal for more mature 8th graders.

Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creech

The Rig by Joe Ducie

When serial prison escapee and 15-year-old Will gets sent to The Rig, he thinks finding a way out will be easy. That’s until he realizes The Rig is in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. No one has ever come close to breaking out. Gripping and pacy, this is a perfect book for reluctant readers in grade 8.

The Rig by Joe Ducie

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Facing a seemingly unbeatable and ruthless alien invader, Earth needs a military genius. Teenaged boy Ender is chosen from thousands to lead the fight – but is he being manipulated? Recently made into a blockbuster movie, this book is a great easy reader for 8th graders.

Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

The Chess Queen Enigma by Colleen Gleason

When the sister of Stoker and the niece of Holmes get together, uncovering vampire crime mysteries are a regular day’s work. This is a gripping and atmospheric drama set in a fantasy London of the past.

The Chess Queen Enigma by Colleen Gelason

Beautiful Swimmers by William Warner

An evocative and interesting study of blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay. Brilliantly written – this is a more challenging book for grade 8 readers interested in science and natural history.

Beautiful Swimmers by William Warner

Finding Wonders by Jeannine Atkins

This is an engaging set of three biographical stories of women who changed the world. Maria Merian – who documented metamorphosis, Mary Anning, who survived a lightning strike and discovered fossils, and Maria Mitchell, who found a new comet. Presented as poems, these stories are an ideal starting point for 8th-grade writing activities.

Finding Wonders by Jeannine Atkins

Click the buttons below to purchase all of the books in this 8th grade book list, as well as classroom sets of any of these books and many more, from Bookshop.org. Or buy the 20 most popular titles from this list from Amazon – ideal for gifts or stocking your school library. If you are ordering from outside the US, have a look at our ‘worldwide orders’ page which makes this process easy.

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Best Books That 8th Graders Should Read

We will unravel the top book picks for 8th graders. From contemporary realism to historical fiction, sci-fi to poetry, we have something for everyone. These books have been widely recommended for middle school students due to both their language and vocabulary as well as the introduction of more mature themes students should start thinking about.

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By no means is this a definitive list, it’s just a high level overview to help you get started. We suggest checking multiple “best book” lists because each one always seems to have a few gems in them that students love.

Anyways, let’s get started:

‘Mary Underwater’ by Shannon Doleski

‘Mary Underwater’ by Shannon Doleski is a heartwarming coming-of-age story that follows a young girl navigating family issues and discovering herself. Set in a small town in Maryland, the book transports readers to the picturesque setting of the Chesapeake Bay through vivid descriptions. With relatable themes of friendship, family, and self-discovery, this book is perfect for middle schoolers.

Shannon Doleski’s engaging and immersive writing style keeps readers hooked from start to finish. ‘Mary Underwater’ offers excellent entertainment and depth, making it an ideal choice for summer reading.

‘The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora’ by Pablo Cartaya

‘The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora’ by Pablo Cartaya is a heartwarming tale that revolves around the themes of family, community, and food. Set in Florida, the story follows the journey of Arturo Zamora, a 13-year-old boy, as he navigates life’s challenges.

With its exploration of gentrification, cultural identity, and friendship, this book offers young adult readers a captivating narrative perfect for summer reading.

‘The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora’ has received praise from readers for its relatable characters and engaging storyline. It is a great choice for 8th graders looking for an impactful and enjoyable read.

‘Taking Up Space’ by Alyson Gerber

‘Taking Up Space’ by Alyson Gerber is a thought-provoking novel that delves into the struggles of a girl with dyslexia. Through the story of protagonist Sarah, readers are taken on a journey of self-acceptance and discovering one’s voice. As Sarah navigates the challenges of middle school, her learning differences become integral to her experience.

This honest and heartfelt portrayal offers a fresh perspective on academic and life success. ‘Taking Up Space’ is a must-read for anyone seeking insight into the hurdles faced by those with dyslexia, making it a valuable addition to any reading list.

‘Beverly, Right Here’ by Kate DiCamillo

‘Beverly, Right Here’ by Kate DiCamillo is a heartwarming coming-of-age story set in Florida. The novel follows Beverly, a brave and resilient young girl who runs away from home to find herself.

Along her journey, Beverly encounters an intriguing cast of characters, including an elderly woman and a friendly dog. Kate DiCamillo, a Newbery Medal-winning author, showcases her talent for poignant and relatable storytelling in this book.

‘Beverly, Right Here’ is perfect for readers who enjoy self-discovery, friendship, and adventure stories. It offers a captivating narrative that will resonate with middle school readers and leave a lasting impact.

‘Nikki on the Line’ by Barbara Carroll Roberts

“Nikki on the Line” by Barbara Carroll Roberts is a relatable and inspiring story of teamwork, friendship, and perseverance. This middle-grade novel takes readers on the journey of an eighth-grade girl as she navigates through her school’s basketball team tryouts.

With themes of self-discovery, family dynamics, and overcoming challenges, the book beautifully captures the emotions and experiences of adolescence. It is a must-read for sports enthusiasts, fans of realistic fiction, and those looking for diverse characters.

Get ready to be inspired by Nikki’s determination and resilience as she tackles on-court challenges and personal growth.

‘Refugee’ by Alan Gratz

‘Refugee’ by Alan Gratz follows the lives of three refugee families from different periods, exploring themes of survival, hope, and resilience in the face of adversity. Gratz’s storytelling style is accessible and engaging for readers of all ages, while the historical context provides an educational component to the book’s entertainment value.

‘Refugee’ has received critical acclaim and is a New York Times bestseller. This powerful and captivating novel is an excellent addition to any 8th-grade summer reading list, offering a unique perspective on the experiences of refugees throughout history.

‘Good Enough’ by Jen Petro-Roy

‘Good Enough’ by Jen Petro-Roy delves into the story of a young girl grappling with an eating disorder, highlighting the significance of self-acceptance and mental health. The book provides valuable insights into the complexities of eating disorders, making it an essential read for those seeking understanding and empathy.

Additionally, ‘Good Enough’ is an excellent starting point for parents and educators to engage in conversations about mental health with young adults. Petro-Roy’s engaging writing style ensures the book is informative and accessible, offering an insightful exploration of this challenging topic.

‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell

‘Animal Farm’ by George Orwell is a political allegory that cleverly uses animals to represent different aspects of the Russian Revolution. The novel is a critique of totalitarianism and the abuse of power. Orwell’s engaging and accessible writing style makes it an excellent choice for middle schoolers.

The book’s themes remain relevant today, sparking discussions about current events. ‘Animal Farm’ is considered a classic and should be read at least once by every student in their academic career. Its thought-provoking narrative and timeless lessons make it a must-read for young readers and adults alike.

‘The Other Side of Truth by Beverley Naidoo

Beverley Naidoo’s ‘The Other Side of Truth’ delves into profound family, truth, and justice themes. This captivating novel takes readers on a gripping journey across Nigeria and London as two siblings escape political persecution. Naidoo fearlessly explores challenging topics such as corruption and violence, making this book poignant and enlightening for mature readers.

With her engaging and thought-provoking writing style, Naidoo prompts readers to reflect on their beliefs and values. ‘The Other Side of Truth’ is a powerful and impactful read that lingers in readers’ minds long after they turn the final page.

‘Nimona’ by Noelle Stevenson

‘Nimona’ by Noelle Stevenson is a captivating graphic novel that follows the adventures of a shape-shifting teenage girl. This award-winning book, recognized with the National Book Award and Eisner Award, explores themes of friendship, identity, and morality in a fun and engaging way.

With its stunning illustrations and captivating storytelling style, ‘Nimona’ appeals to readers of all ages. It is especially recommended for those who enjoy fantasy and graphic novels. So, if you’re looking for a high-quality book to add to your 8th-grade summer reading list, ‘Nimona’ is worth checking out.

‘The 5th Wave’ by Rick Yancey

“The 5th Wave” by Rick Yancey is a gripping science fiction novel about an alien invasion. The story follows Cassie, a survivor on a desperate mission to find her younger brother amidst the chaos and destruction caused by the extraterrestrial beings.

It explores themes of survival, trust, and humanity in the face of dire circumstances. Yancey’s writing style captivates readers, making it difficult to put the book down. With its action-packed plot and a touch of romance, “The 5th Wave” is an excellent choice for young adults looking for an exciting summer read.

‘Frankenstein’ by Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ is a timeless classic that delves into the themes of creation and responsibility. The novel follows the ambitious Victor Frankenstein as he attempts to bring life to his own design, only to face the devastating consequences of his actions.

With its Gothic elements and supernatural occurrences, Shelley creates an eerie ambiance that intrigues the story. The multiple perspectives and complex characters make ‘Frankenstein’ an excellent choice for critical analysis.

This thought-provoking novel remains relevant today, as it explores the ethical implications of playing God and the effects of technological advancements on humanity.

‘Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

“Lord of the Rings” by JRR Tolkien is a beloved and timeless classic that has captivated readers for generations. This epic fantasy novel takes readers on a thrilling journey alongside hobbit Frodo Baggins as he embarks on a quest to destroy the One Ring and save Middle-earth. With its masterful world-building and richly developed characters, this book is a must-read for any fan of the fantasy genre.

The themes of friendship, sacrifice, and the eternal battle between good and evil resonate with readers of all ages. Even today, Lord of the Rings inspires and influences popular culture in various mediums, from movies to video games.

‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ by Alexandre Dumas

‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ by Alexandre Dumas is a classic tale set in 19th century France, filled with revenge, love, and betrayal themes. The story follows Edmond Dantès, who is wrongfully imprisoned and seeks vengeance against those who betrayed him. With its complex characters, intricate plots, and unexpected twists, this novel is thought-provoking and engaging for 8th graders.

Though challenging in length and vocabulary, the timeless themes make it a must-read for young readers. ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’ offers a captivating journey through justice, morality, and redemption.

‘Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

‘Ender’s Game’ by Orson Scott Card is a popular science fiction novel set in a futuristic world. The story revolves around Ender Wiggin, a young genius recruited to attend a military school in space. There, Ender undergoes intense training in combat and strategy, with the ultimate goal of defeating an alien race that threatens Earth.

This thought-provoking book delves into themes of leadership, morality, and the consequences of war. It has garnered numerous awards and has even been adapted into a film and video game. ‘Ender’s Game’ is a thrilling read that will captivate young readers who enjoy sci-fi and action-packed stories.

‘Deep Blue by Jennifer Donnelly

‘Deep Blue’ by Jennifer Donnelly is a captivating fantasy adventure book that follows the journey of six mermaids as they embark on a quest to save their underwater kingdoms. Written by Jennifer Donnelly, a bestselling author known for her historical fiction novels, ‘Deep Blue’ combines action, suspense, and magical creatures to keep readers engaged.

This book is perfect for middle schoolers who enjoy fantasy and adventure stories, and it also explores important themes such as friendship, courage, and perseverance. Dive into the enchanting world of ‘Deep Blue’ and join these brave mermaids on their thrilling adventure.

Why should 8th graders read ‘The Hate You Give’ by Angie Thomas?

‘The Hate You Give’ by Angie Thomas tackles pressing social issues such as police brutality and racial injustice. It offers a unique perspective that helps young readers understand the struggles faced by marginalized communities. 8th graders can develop critical thinking skills and empathy towards others by reading this book. The acclaimed novel has received numerous awards, making it a must-read for young adults.

Engaging with Poetry

Poetry is a powerful medium that fosters critical thinking and language skills in 8th graders. By introducing them to diverse voices and styles of poetry, their perspectives can be broadened. Two highly recommended titles for middle schoolers are “The Crossover” by Kwame Alexander and “Brown Girl Dreaming” by Jacqueline Woodson.

Encouraging students to write their own poetry develops their creativity and self-expression and nurtures a deeper appreciation for the art form. Engaging with poetry during the summer can be a fun and rewarding activity for young readers.

Exploring Poetry for 8th Graders

Poetry offers a powerful means of self-expression and emotional exploration, making it an excellent addition to an 8th-grade reading list. Students can enhance their critical thinking and language skills by reading and analyzing poems. Introducing students to diverse poets and styles is crucial to broaden their literary horizons. Incorporating poetry into class discussions and assignments can make learning more interactive and engaging for 8th graders.

Additionally, encouraging students to write their own poetry fosters creativity and boosts confidence in their writing abilities.

Exploring Various Genres

During the summer, students must continue reading and exploring various genres. Fiction lovers can delve into classic literature, young adult novels, and captivating mystery stories. Non-fiction enthusiasts can be captivated by biographies, memoirs, and informative history books. Poetry enthusiasts can indulge in diverse collections by contemporary poets, immersing themselves in beautiful language and thought-provoking themes. For those who prefer visual storytelling, graphic novels provide entertaining and visually stimulating narratives.

Whether escaping into a world of imagination or delving into real-life stories, exploring different genres is a great way for 8th graders to expand their horizons and enhance their literacy skills.

Contemporary Realism for 8th Graders

Contemporary realism is a genre that focuses on realistic depictions of modern-day life, addressing relevant social issues and promoting empathy and understanding. Angie Thomas’ “The Hate U Give” explores police brutality and racism, while Laurie Halse Anderson’s “Speak” tackles sexual assault. Other recommended titles include “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio and “Refugee” by Alan Gratz.

These books offer compelling narratives that resonate with 8th graders, encouraging critical thinking and a deeper understanding of the world around them. By immersing themselves in contemporary realism, young readers can gain valuable insights into society and cultivate empathy for others.

Diving into Fantasy and Sci-Fi

Fantasy and sci-fi genres transport readers to imaginative realms and alternate realities. Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” is a gripping sci-fi novel that delves into themes of survival and rebellion. Christopher Paolini’s “Eragon” takes readers on an epic fantasy adventure alongside a young dragon rider. Lois Lowry’s “The Giver” challenges the concept of a perfect society in a dystopian setting. Frank Herbert’s “Dune” delves into political intrigue and the consequences of ecological disaster. These books offer 8th graders a thrilling escape and broaden their literary horizons.

Reliving the Past with Historical Fiction

Historical fiction books can transport readers to different periods and cultures, providing a unique perspective on the past. These novels often incorporate historical events into their storylines, offering insights into how we got to where we are today.

For 8th graders, popular historical fiction books like “Code Name Verity” and “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” can be educational and engaging. By reading historical fiction, students can also improve their critical thinking skills by evaluating sources and considering different perspectives. It’s an excellent way for young readers to relive the past and gain a deeper understanding of history.

Impact of Reading on Young Minds

Reading has a profound impact on young minds, offering numerous benefits. It is crucial in improving vocabulary and language skills, helping students expand their knowledge and communication abilities. Additionally, reading stimulates imagination and creativity, allowing young readers to explore different worlds and ideas.

Moreover, it fosters empathy and understanding by exposing readers to diverse perspectives and experiences. Alongside these cognitive benefits, reading also promotes mental health and relaxation, providing a welcome escape from the stresses of daily life. Summer reading lists further enhance these advantages, enabling students to discover new genres and authors, and broadening their literary horizons.

The Power and Influence of Books

Reading has a profound impact on the development of young people, fostering cognitive and emotional growth. Books can mold young minds and shape their perspectives on the world. Summer reading lists are an excellent way to introduce middle school students to new genres, authors, and ideas.

Engaging in reading can enhance vocabulary, comprehension, and critical thinking skills. Encouraging tweens to read can ignite a lifelong passion for learning and curiosity. Books can transport readers to different periods, cultures, and even supernatural realms, providing a gateway to explore new worlds and broaden horizons.

In conclusion, reading can transport us to different worlds, evoke emotions, and expand our horizons. It is an essential tool for young minds to develop empathy, critical thinking, and imagination.

The recommended books on this 8th-grade summer reading list offer diverse genres and themes, allowing students to explore new perspectives and ideas. Whether it’s a contemporary realistic fiction, a fantasy adventure, or a historical novel, each book can potentially leave a lasting impact on young readers.

Encouraging 8th graders to read ‘The Hate You Give’ by Angie Thomas can spark meaningful conversations about social issues and promote empathy and understanding. So grab a book, dive into its pages, and embark on a journey of discovery and growth through reading.

best new books for 8th graders

Editorial Staff

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27+ Must Read Books for 6th Graders

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Best book series for 8th graders — ever

by: Grace Montgomery

Print book list

Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures series

by: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl - (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010) 592 pages.

The hook: When Lena moves to his small Southern town, Ethan realizes that this mysterious, outcast girl has been the subject of his dreams for months. Irresistibly drawn to Lena, Ethan discovers that the two are psychically connected. Together they race to discover the secrets behind the dark curse that looms over her family. The first in a four-book series, this story will be a hit with tweens and teens who appreciate star-crossed, supernatural romance.

Want to see the movie? Check out the 2013 adaptation, which follows the first book in the series.

Perfect for: Teens who liked Twilight .

Find our favorites at your local library: Beautiful Creatures , Beautiful Darkness , Beautiful Redemption .

Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children book series

Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series

by: Ransom Riggs - (Penguin Random House Publisher Services, 2011) 352 pages.

The hook: When his grandfather dies, 16-year-old Jacob is left with nagging questions about the past. Compelled to discover the truth behind the strange stories that filled his childhood, Jacob, along with his father, travels to a tiny island in Wales to find the boarding school where his grandfather lived before WWII. What follows is an extraordinary story of monsters, time loops, and war as Jacob is thrust between the world he knows and the world of his grandfather’s past. Bizarre — and real! — old photographs are interspersed throughout this haunting series, pulling the reader into the story. You’ll find yourself questioning what’s real and what’s made up right along with Jacob. Parents should note the series has mature themes and violence.

Perfect for: Teens (and adults!) who like the stories behind old photos.

Find our favorites at your local library: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children , Hollow City , Library of Souls .

Earth children series

Earth Children series

by: Jean M. Auel - (Crown Publishers, 1980)

The hook: Auel’s meticulous research of the Ice Age period really makes this six-book series come to life. Readers are vividly transported back to primeval times some 35,000 years ago. Ayla, a 5-year-old Cro-Magnon girl, is adopted by a Neanderthal medicine woman, much to the objection of her Neanderthal tribe: the Clan of the Cave Bear. Though often terrifying and brutal, the books’ psychological drama make Ayla’s story from childhood to adulthood an emotionally gripping odyssey of a courageous heroine. Parents and readers should be advised, however, that there is some graphic sexual content in these books.

Perfect for: Teens curious to taste life in the (very) olden days.

Find our favorites at your local library: The Clan of the Cave Bear , The Valley of Horses , The Mammoth Hunters .

The Grisha Trilogy book series

The Grisha Trilogy

by: Leigh Bardugo - (Square Fish, 2013) 416 pages.

The hook: Living in a world reminiscent of Tsarist Russia, Alina Starkov is content with her simple life until her extraordinary powers are exposed. With her country being torn apart by the Shadow Fold — a sea of darkness full of monsters bent on destruction — Alina is sent to the royal court to be trained by the Grisha and their leader, the mysterious Darkling. But as Alina begins to understand her own power, she must decide which side she’s really on. Well-developed characters and a fascinating world make this a binge-worthy series, though some readers may struggle with the Russian-inspired words and phrases. Parents should also note the series has some violence, dark themes, and some mild sexual content.

Perfect for: Teens who like dark fantasy stories.

Find our favorites at your local library: Shadow and Bone , Siege and Storm , Ruin and Rising .

divergent

Divergent series

by: Veronica Roth - (Katherine Tegen Books, 2011)

The hook: In this trilogy, a war-ravaged world divides people based on personality and aptitude in order to guarantee peace. But rumblings of a power struggle have already begun. Just as our young protagonist transitions into adulthood, she learns she doesn’t quite fit any of the five factions. She’s “divergent,” a fact she must keep quiet about if she is to avoid becoming the target of the establishment. As Tris becomes embroiled in the war, she finds herself grappling with politics, loyalty, forgiveness, as well as love and her own identity. (All the struggles of the teen existence writ large! This page-turner series may keep your teen up late, so get it during the break!

Additionally, look for the bonus book, with short stories that offer new insights on the Divergent world and on the events that drive the series.

Perfect for those who like strong female characters, dystopian world stories, and action.

Find our favorites at your local library: Divergent , Insurgent , Allegiant , Four: A Divergent Collection .

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series

by: Douglas Adams - (Harmony Books, 1979) 224 pages.

The hook: Just before the Earth is destroyed to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is rescued by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy . The pair take off on an exciting journey through space, meeting a cast of bizarre characters with names like Zaphod Beeblebrox and Veet Voojagig on the way. Tweens and teens love the irreverent, satirical humor that characterize these books (which were originally a radio series).

Want to see the movie? Check out the 2005 adaptation starring Zooey Deschanel and Martin Freeman.

Perfect for: Tweens with a snarky sense of humor.

Find our favorites at your local library: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy , The Restaurant at the End of the Universe , So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish .

House of night

House of Night

by: P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast - (St. Martin's Griffin, 2011) 304 pages.

The hook: Not the first vampire book series to hit the market, this eight-book set still captivates readers with a world where humans and vamps knowingly coexist. After 16-year-old Zoey is marked, she leaves her humdrum life in Tulsa to attend the exclusive House of Night boarding school for fledglings. Despite her powerful gifts, she can’t escape the troubles with cliques, social pressure, and exclusion that plague humans and vamps alike.

Perfect for: Girls (14 or older) who can identify with “typical” teen issues: mean girls, boy trouble and, oh, vampires.

Find our favorites at your local library: Awakened , Tempted , Burned .

Lord of the rings

The Lord of the Rings series

by: J.R.R. Tolkien - (Houghton Mifflin, 1954)

The hook: After lying dormant for centuries, the Dark Lord Sauron is rising again, and his return to domination over Middle Earth depends on recovering his evil ring of power. It falls to some humble hobbits to keep the ring safe from Sauron and ultimately drop it into the fiery depths of Mount Doom, which is the only way the ring can be destroyed. And so forms a motley fellowship that includes four hobbits, an elf, a dwarf, a wizard, and two men, who battle evil in many forms on their quest to destroy the One Ring. This epic fantasy trilogy has inspired a passion for fantasy in generations of teens.

Want to see the movie? The Lord of the Rings trilogy of films starring Elijah Woods, Ian McKellen, and Viggo Mortensen closely follows the series, but parents should note they may be too violent for younger or sensitive teens and tweens.

Perfect for: Teens who like epic battles involving elves, orcs, and dwarves.

Find our favorites at your local library: The Fellowship of the Ring , The Two Towers , The Return of the King .

When the Snow Fell

When the Snow Fell

by: Henning Mankell and Laurie Thompson - (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2009) 256 pages.

The hook: When we meet Joel Gustafsson in A Bridge to the Stars , he’s 11, and coping with the facts that his father has abandoned the sea and his mother has abandoned their family. Later, in When the Snow Fell , Joel is 14 and pursuing his three New Year’s resolutions: live to be 100, find the ocean, and see a woman naked. Throughout this quartet focusing on Joel’s coming of age, the stories do a wonderful job of combining the magical thinking, adventurousness, and surprising insight tweens and early teens are capable of. Set in Sweden, these might be the perfect books to curl up with this winter.

Perfect for: Independent thinkers.

Find our favorites at your local library: A Bridge to the Stars , Shadows in the Twilight , When the Snow Fell .

The Raven Cycle book series

The Raven Cycle

by: Maggie Stiefvater - (Scholastic Paperbacks, 2013) 416 pages.

The hook: Once a year, 17-year-old Blue stands with her psychic mother as she watches the spirits of the soon-to-be-dead walk through an old churchyard. The spirits have never revealed themselves to her before, but this year Blue sees Gansey, one of the Raven Boys from a local school. According to her mother, the only reason she’d see a spirit is if he’s her true love or if she will cause his death. This strange and foreboding prophecy pushes Blue into the path of the Raven Boys, a group of misfits who are on their own quest to discover the tomb of an ancient king. Full of magic and the paranormal, The Raven Cycle is a beautifully written, original series that teens will find hard to put down, though parents should note there’s violence, some mature themes, and swearing.

Perfect for: Teens who like gothic ghost stories.

Find our favorites at your local library: The Raven Boys , The Dream Thieves , Blue Lily, Lily Blue .

Unwind dystology book series

Unwind dystology

by: Neal Shusterman - (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2009) 384 pages.

The hook: In the future, abortion has been abolished under The Bill of Life. Now, however, parents are allowed to have their children “unwound,” which means that between the ages of 13 and 18, every part of a child’s body can be transplanted. Determined to end this horrific practice, teens Connor and Risa, whose parents have signed them up for unwinding, and Lev, whose body has been tithed to the church, will do whatever they can to change the world. This creative, compelling four-book series is highly thought provoking. Read it with your teen to generate some great heart-to-hearts, though parents should note that younger, more sensitive teens might find the subject matter too intense.

Perfect for: Teens who like to debate hot-button issues.

Find our favorites at your local library: UnWind , UnWholly , UnSouled , UnDivided .

Wicked Lovely book series

Wicked Lovely

by: Melissa Marr - (HarperCollins, 2008) 352 pages.

The hook: Aislinn has been able to see the hidden world of faery her entire life, but it’s nothing like the storybooks. A troubled teen, Aislinn seeks refuge from the dark and frightening creatures of faery in the safe, iron-filled home of her friend Seth, an older, wiser boy who gives her the comfort she so desperately needs. But when Keenan, a faery king, is convinced that Aislinn is destined to be his queen, she’s forced to confront the world she’s spent her life trying to ignore. Complex, wonderfully developed characters are at the heart of this five-book series. Readers tend to root for the good guys and the bad guys at the same time. Parents should note some mature themes, including some mild sexual content, teen drinking, and a little violence (though much less than the usual dystopian teen fare).

Perfect for: Teens who like dark fairy tales.

Find our favorites at your local library: Wicked Lovely , Ink Exchange , Radiant Shadows .

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6th - 8th Grade Favorites 2023

6th to 8th Grade book recommendations for kids, educators, booksellers, librarians, and caregivers of the best children’s books in 2022.

1-2-3 Scream!

1-2-3 Scream!

12 to 22

Amari and the Great Game

Amira & Hamza: The Quest for the Ring of Power

Amira & Hamza

Answers in the Pages

Answers in the Pages

The Antiracist Kid

The Antiracist Kid

An Atlas of Lost Kingdoms

An Atlas of Lost Kingdoms

Attack of the Black Rectangles

Attack of the Black Rectangles

Batpig: Too Pig to Fail

Diper Överlöde (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #17)

Door of No Return

Door of No Return

Empty Smiles

Empty Smiles

F.A.R.T.

The First Cat in Space Ate Pizza

Ghosts Come Rising

Ghosts Come Rising

Hardcourt

Hooky Volume 2

I Will Protect You: A True Story of Twins Who Survived Auschwitz

I Will Protect You

Iveliz Explains It All

Iveliz Explains It All

Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone

Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone

Legends of Funland

Legends of Funland

The Little Bad Book #1

The Little Bad Book #1

Lolo’s Light

Lolo’s Light

Maizy Chen’s Last Chance

Maizy Chen’s Last Chance

My Own Lightning

My Own Lightning

Omar Rising

Omar Rising

PAWS: Gabby Gets It Together (Book 1)

The Road to After

Spy School the Graphic Novel

Spy School the Graphic Novel

Swim Team

Team Chu and the Battle for Blackwood Arena

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky: The Graphic Novel

Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky

Twin Cities

Twin Cities

Wait Till Helen Comes Graphic Novel

Wait Till Helen Comes Graphic Novel

What Is Juneteenth?

What Is Juneteenth?

Your Pal Fred

Your Pal Fred

best new books for 8th graders

MyTechClassroom.com

The 57 Best Chapter Books For 8th Graders To Read (In 2022)

When you pick books for 8th graders, it can be challenging to walk the line between middle-grade and young adult books. Not to mention, eighth graders can vary in their reading levels, with some well into their young adult book phases and others struggling to finish a book.

So, how do you challenge avid readers and motivate reluctant ones? The secret is a mix of upper middle-grade novels, younger YA picks, modern classics, and accessible classics. And we’ll give you tons of recommendations for your 8th-grade reading list.

1. I’ll Give You The Sun

best new books for 8th graders

“I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson. This modern classic is one of our favorite coming-of-age stories, and it’ll make eighth-graders and adult readers laugh and cry.

In it, we follow the perspectives of the twins, Jude and Noah. When tragedy strikes, it flips their world upside down.

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2. The Diary Of A Young Girl

best new books for 8th graders

It’s a powerful story that teen readers will learn a lot from.

3. The Hate You Give

best new books for 8th graders

Her poor neighborhood and her fancy prep school. When a police officer shoots her best friend, she’s the only one who knows what went down. This BLM-inspired novel is a must-read for 8th-grade kids.

4. Clap When You Land

best new books for 8th graders

The National Book Award-winning and New York Times Bestselling author Elizabeth Acevedo takes our breath away with her novel-in-verse, “Clap When You Land.”

Let your eighth grader see how grief brings Yahaira, from New York, and Camino, from the Dominican Republic, together.

5. The Hobbit4

best new books for 8th graders

If you’re looking for a challenging book, Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” is one of the best books for eighth-grade avid readers. Those who love fantasy books will love the epic adventure that Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit, goes on.

6. Brown Girl Dreaming

best new books for 8th graders

Jacqueline Woodson’s “Brown Girl Dreaming” is a multi-award winning book. This powerful own voices story, told in verse, depicts Woodson’s childhood, her experience as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, and her awareness of the Civil Rights movement.

best new books for 8th graders

One of the best eighth-grade books set in a dystopian world is “Scythe” by Neal Shusterman.

So, to keep the population under control, “Scythes” are appointed to kill people.

Your middle school kids follow two teenagers as they train to become scythes. What happens when they discover the system’s corruption?

8. The Night Circus

best new books for 8th graders

Erin Morgenstern’s “The Night Circus” is an atmospheric fantasy novel.

Celia and Marco, who duel in a bigger game than they can imagine. The complex magic system and detailed setting descriptions make this an enticing challenge for eighth-graders.

best new books for 8th graders

Jerry Craft brings us the perfect story for tween readers, an own voices graphic novel.

And Jordan doesn’t feel like he can fit in his new school or even his neighborhood. So, can he juggle both worlds, make friends, and stay true to himself?

10. A Long Walk To Water

best new books for 8th graders

Based on a true story, “A Long Walk to Water” is about two Sudanese children and the dangers they face to create better lives for themselves and others. Linda Sue Park’s moving story showcases the value of perseverance and hope, so your middle school kids will undoubtedly get something out of it.

11. The Book Thief

best new books for 8th graders

She steals them and transports herself and others away from the bombing raids. Markus Zusak’s masterpiece, “The Book Thief,” is one of the best 8th-grade books, but it’s also excellent for parents and older kids.

12. The Giver

best new books for 8th graders

He learns the memories and secrets of his community, so what happens when the blind goes off? That’s what Lois Lowry explores in “The Giver.” After reading it, you can have a movie night with your 8th-grade kids and watch the adaptation!

13. The Outsiders

best new books for 8th graders

We follow Ponyboy from the Greasers, who seems to have it all figured out. But when his friend shoots a member of their rival gang, the Socs, everything is turned upside down. Some readers think this novel is too violent to be a middle-grade novel, but we’ll leave that to your judgment.

14. Long Way Down

best new books for 8th graders

Jason Reynolds brings us a more modern story about teenage gun violence. Fifteen-year-old Will is about to avenge his dead brother. He gets on an elevator with a gun, and several people step in on his way down. Do they influence his decision?

15. The Cruel Prince

best new books for 8th graders

In it, Jude, a mortal, is desperately trying to fit in the High Court of Faerie. But, then, she gets involved in a web of royal faerie intrigue, which isn’t made easy by Prince Cardan who hates mortals!

16. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

best new books for 8th graders

After her older sister, Olga, passes away, Julia is constantly reminded that she’ll never be the perfect daughter Olga was. But was she really that perfect? Julia’s determined to find that out with her best friend, Lorena, and first love, Connor.

17. The Maze Runner

best new books for 8th graders

James Dashner’s “The Maze Runner” is one of the most famous 8th-grade chapter books.

Their only hope is this message: “Remember. Survive. Run.”

18. The Hunger Games

best new books for 8th graders

Some consider this series too violent for middle school, so keep that in mind. In it, 12 representatives from the districts fight till death on live TV while the wealthy Capitol’s people watch.

19. A Wrinkle In Time

best new books for 8th graders

Meg’s father was a scientist who disappeared while working on a secret program for the government. So, Meg, her younger brother Charles, and a popular jock called Calvin O’Keefe go on a journey to find him.

20. The Voting Booth

best new books for 8th graders

Marva Sheridan has always dreamed of making a difference. So, when Duke Crenshaw is turned away from the polling place, she’s determined to do everything in her power to get him to vote.

21. With The Fire On High

best new books for 8th graders

“With the Fire on High” by the bestselling and beloved author Elizabeth Acevedo tells the story of Emoni Santiago.

However, this book does have some mature conversations, so you can decide if they’re appropriate for your tweens or not.

22. The Poet X

best new books for 8th graders

Our heroine, the Afro-Latina Xiomara Batista, joins the school’s slam poetry club to make her voice heard. Acevedo’s debut is one of the best books for eighth-graders to examine identity, religion, societal expectations, and more.

23. Let Me Hear A Rhyme

best new books for 8th graders

To do that, they pretend he’s alive, but how long will it be before the lies catch up to them? Your 8th graders will want to know!

24. House In The Cerulean Sea

best new books for 8th graders

Our main character, Linus Baker, is a caseworker at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth. When he’s summoned to an orphanage with six “troubled” kids, Linus uncovers numerous secrets and has to make a difficult decision.

25. Harbor Me

best new books for 8th graders

Once a week, six children meet for a chat without parents or adults! They open up about issues that touch them, from racial profiling to deportation of immigrants and more.

26. Animal Farm

Do you want your kids to develop a more realistic worldview? Why don’t you pick George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” for your middle school children to read?

Orwell’s timeless allegory satirizes totalitarianism.

27. Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn

best new books for 8th graders

So, let your kids join Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer on their boyhood adventures along the Mississippi River.

28. Daughter Of Smoke And Bone

best new books for 8th graders

In its world, angels and mythical creatures are at war. So, what happens when fate brings Karou and Akiva, who are on opposite sides of this war, together?

29. Life Of Pi

best new books for 8th graders

This book tells the story of 16-year-old Pi, the only person who survives a shipwreck.

Pi finds himself on a boat with an orangutan, a hyena, a wounded zebra, and a huge tiger as his only companions. After reading the book, you can watch the movie with your class and compare!

30. I Am Malala

best new books for 8th graders

It showcases how she turned her life around, standing up to the Taliban’s regime, fighting for girls’ education, and earning a Nobel Peace Prize!

31. Frankenstein

best new books for 8th graders

Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” chronicles scientist Victor Frankenstein’s attempt at making a creature from dead body parts. If you believe your kids are old enough for horror, “Frankenstein” will inspire such deep philosophical discussions.

32. The 5th Wave

best new books for 8th graders

Get your children to fall in love with reading by assigning them Rick Yancey’s “The 5th Wave.”

With her brother missing, is there anything Cassie won’t do to find him?

33. Goodbye Stranger

best new books for 8th graders

The new school year brings tons of changes, so will our three best friends, Bridge, Tab, and Emily, be able to keep the pact they made a long time ago not to fight? As Valentine’s Day approaches, these friends reconsider the bonds and limits of friendships in “Goodbye Stranger” by Rebecca Stead.

best new books for 8th graders

Are you looking for a heart-warming tale about friendship and perseverance? “Echo” by Pam Muñoz Ryan might be it.

How cool is that?

35. To Kill A Mockingbird

best new books for 8th graders

It’s the 1930s in Alabama, and Jem and Scout are living their best lives, playing with Dill, their neighbor, and getting into all sorts of shenanigans.

But when their lawyer father decides to defend a black man in a trial against a white woman whom he’s accused of raping, we witness the segregated South’s racism through the eyes of these children. Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” is a poignant story, but note that it contains some racially charged language and descriptions of sexual violence.

36. Catching Fire

best new books for 8th graders

If you’ve put “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins on your syllabus, who not follow it up with the sequel “Catching Fire”? Better yet, you can assign it to your 8th graders as independent reading.

So, how do they handle the Capitol’s anger and the masses’ hopes for them?

37. The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe

best new books for 8th graders

“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C. S. Lewis is a whimsical story and the first book in “The Chronicles of Narnia.” In it, Lucy and her siblings enter a magical world called Narnia through a wardrobe door!

38. Artemis Fowl

best new books for 8th graders

He kidnaps a fairy, but the only problem is that this isn’t the kind of fairy that leaves money under your pillow; she’s lethal!

39. The Fault In Our Stars

best new books for 8th graders

“The Fault in Our Stars” is the perfect tearjerker and John Green’s masterpiece. If you don’t mind your 8th graders reading about heavy topics, this story is both heartbreaking and uplifting in its depiction of cancer.

Our main character, Hazel Grace, knows she’s dying of cancer. So, when she meets Augustus Waters at her cancer support group, she tries not to get too close to him. But what does the universe has in store for them?

40. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

best new books for 8th graders

Stephen Chbosby’s “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is a modern classic. The novel depicts issues that many high school students face. Not to mention, its unique format sets it apart, as it’s composed of letters from our main character.

Be sure to check out the content warnings before choosing this novel.

41. Lord Of The Rings

best new books for 8th graders

It’s, of course, a more challenging read, so make sure your eighth graders are ready for it. Also, the movies can make these books a lot less intimidating.

42. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

best new books for 8th graders

If your 8th-grade students hate reading, why not give them a novel with tons of vintage, eerie photographs to spike their interest?

In “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs, we follow 16-year-old Jacob, who sets off on a journey to learn about his family history. But he sure isn’t ready for what he finds … a mysterious island, an abandoned orphanage, peculiar children, and more.

43. I Know Why The Caged Birds Sing

best new books for 8th graders

“I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing” is a coming-of-age memoir by Maya Angelou. It tells the story of African-American Maya during the Great Depression.

44. Little Women

best new books for 8th graders

Their stories weave happiness, tragedy, hope, ambition, and more seamlessly. So, you can expect your 8th graders to enjoy the book and the 2019 movie adaptation as well!

45. The Master Puppeteer

best new books for 8th graders

Its mystery revolves around Sabura, a bandit who steals from the rich to help the poor.

46. Rebecca

best new books for 8th graders

Daphne Du Maurier’s “Rebecca” is one exciting mystery for your 8th-grade students. In it, the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter decides to unravel the dark truth about her husband’s first wife, the late Rebecca. Are these secrets better kept under wraps?

47. Walk Two Moons

best new books for 8th graders

On the road trip from Ohio to Idaho, she shares several interesting stories that’ll keep your kids hooked!

48. Wringer

best new books for 8th graders

When Palmer turns ten, he’s supposed to become a wringer; however, he wants anything but that. When an unexpected visitor comes into the picture, Palmer knows he must learn to stand up for what he believes in.

49. Go Tell It On The Mountain

best new books for 8th graders

Which can inspire important conversations in class. The main character of “Go Tell It on the Mountain” is a 14-year-old boy who discovers the terms of his identity, living with his stepfather, a self-righteous preacher.

50. When You Were Everything

best new books for 8th graders

In Sophomore year, two best friends, Cleo and Layla, cut ties.

They can learn something from how Cleo comes to terms with this and makes friends.

51. Almost American Girl

best new books for 8th graders

In it, Robin travels with her mom from Seoul, Korea to Alabama for a vacation. Then, her mom announces she’s getting married.

Now, Robin has to go to a school where she doesn’t speak the language and where there are no friends close by. Is there a light at the end of the tunnel?

52. Ender’s Game

best new books for 8th graders

“Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card is an easy and fun read for 8th graders.

But is Ender really the military genius that can rise to this challenge, or is he just a puppet?

best new books for 8th graders

In Megan E. Freeman’s “Alone,” twelve-year-old Maddie has a plan to have a sleepover with her two best friends, except she wakes up alone in an evacuated and abandoned town.

Not to mention, she has no contact with the outside world. She only has George, a Rottweiler, and an endless supply of books. Now, what will Maddy do in the face of looters, wild animals, and natural disasters? And how will she combat her loneliness?

54. Nikki On The Line

best new books for 8th graders

With friendship drama, school stress, and babysitting duties, can Nikki pull her weight on the basketball court? Let your kids find out in “Nikki on the Line” by Barbara Carroll Roberts.

55. The Many Meanings Of Meilan

best new books for 8th graders

She struggles with her identity as a Chinese American girl, becoming many Meilans. Your students will benefit from watching her find a home in herself and make a new friend along the way.

56. You Have A Match

best new books for 8th graders

So, she decides she must see her Instagram-famous sister, learn more about her, and understand why her parents gave her up for adoption.

57. All The Bright Places

best new books for 8th graders

Jennifer Niven’s “All the Bright Places” follows two teenagers, Theodore and Violet.

Your 8th graders will love this compelling, honest, and heartbreaking story about love and life.

Jump In : Make your 8th-grade students better at reading, writing, and expressing their thoughts by providing them with my list of 11 Free 8th Grade Reading Fluency Passages for Your Class !

Overall, we hope this collection of classic, contemporary, young adult, and middle-grade novels has helped you put together your 8th-grade book list. And remember that the key is to create a balance between literary merit, social issues, and tremendous fun!

Last Updated on July 24, 2022 by Emily

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Let Us Help You Find Your Next Book

By The New York Times Books Staff

Let us help you choose your next book

I want a great historical novel full of humanity.

The book cover of “The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store,” which features a painting of a Black boy wearing a white shirt, blue cap and yellow pants, and holding a red ball.

How about a heartwarming novel to suit any mood?

This book cover is made up of a brightly colored illustration, with a blue background standing in for the water in an aquarium and a large, bright orange octopus filling up much of the image. In the foreground is a person with long grayish hair and a yellow top, their back turned to the viewer and toward the octopus.

I’d love a literary novel that surprises me at every turn

The book cover of “North Woods,” by Daniel Mason, which shows an illustration of a wildcat lounging on a grass field.

I want to read a book everyone is (still) talking about

The cover of Barbara Kingsolver’s book, “Demon Copperhead,” is a black and white illustration with tiny drawings along the side, and a barren landscape in the foreground. The author’s name is in blue, and the title, in red.

Give me a swashbuckling tale of survival

The book cover for “The Wager,” by David Grann, shows a moody painting of a shipwreck; the boat has nearly capsized, and the sea is terribly rough.

How about a revelatory biography of an American icon?

The book cover of “King: A Life,” by Jonathan Eig, shows a close-up black-and-white photograph of Martin Luther King Jr.

I’d like a celebrity memoir with heart

book cover for Friends, Lovers, and the Big Terrible Thing

See the full list of our latest recommended new books.

New in Paperback

Tinier, but just as mighty.

The book cover of for “Age of Vice” is black, with the title and author’s name in large gold type that evokes dripping paint.

Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor

The book jacket for “How to Sell a Haunted House,” by Grady Hendrix, is an illustration of a quaint cottage at night. Its windows are dark, but light is pouring ominously through the front door.

How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix

book cover for The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams

The Revolutionary: Samuel Adams by Stacy Schiff

book cover for Empire of Ice and Stone

Empire of Ice and Stone by Buddy Levy

The cover of Beverly Gage’s “G-Man” shows a black and white photo of half of J. Edgar Hoover’s face. The title and the author’s name are in red.

G Man by Beverly Gage

book cover for Still Pictures

Still Pictures by Janet Malcolm

book cover for Dirtbag Massachusetts

Dirtbag Massachusetts by Isaac Fitzgerald

book cover for Mr. B

Mr. B by Jennifer Homans

book cover for Trespasses

Trespasses by Louise Kennedy

The best books of 2023.

Chosen by the staff of the Book Review.

best new books for 8th graders

Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

The cover of “Master Slave Husband Wife” features the title in large white block type along with small black-and-white headshots of William and Ellen Craft and an illustration of a steamship.

Master Slave Husband Wife by Ilyon Woo

The book cover of “The Bee Sting,” by Paul Murray, features the title and author’s name on a blank cream-colored background. The only image on the cover is an illustration of a small bee whose tail spells “a novel.”

The Bee Sting by Paul Murray

The cover of “The Fraud,” by Zadie Smith, which features the book’s title and author in mixed typefaces reminiscent of a 19th-century newspaper column. The cover is yellow at the top but bleeds quickly into green; leonine insignia in the upper corners resemble heraldic symbols.

The Fraud by Zadie Smith

A black book cover with blue dots and gold threads, with the words “The Best Minds: A Story of Friendship, Madness, and the Tragedy of Good Intentions,” by Jonathan Rosen.

The Best Minds by Jonathan Rosen

The cover of “Bottoms Up and the Devil Laughs” is pink, with the title and author’s name appearing in slightly wobbly type, as if produced on a home printer. Standing with one foot on a letter in the title is a small white figure of the devil holding a drink can in its right hand.

Bottoms Up and the Devil Laughs by Kerry Howley

The red cover portrays a vast cloud of smoke. The text is white.

Fire Weather by John Vaillant

The cover of “Some People Need Killing,” by Patricia Evangelista, is red with, in the center, the back of a person’s head and shoulders depicted in a stylized black silhouette. The title appears in white letters on the figure’s head, with the subtitle (in red) and author’s name (in white) beneath.

Some People Need Killing by Patricia Evangelista

The book cover of “North Woods,” by Daniel Mason, which shows an illustration of a wildcat lounging on a grass field.

North Woods by Daniel Mason

book cover for Eastbound

Eastbound by Maylis de Kerangal

Can’t miss thrillers.

The cover of “The Second Stranger” is an illustration of a large old-fashioned hotel, heavily obscured by falling snow, in near-darkness.

The Second Stranger by Martin Griffin

The cover of “Kill Show,” by Daniel Sweren-Becker, is a bird's-eye-view photo, perhaps taken by a drone, of a leafy neighborhood bisected by a road. There is a school bus on the road. The book’s title is laid over the photo in bold red type.

Kill Show by Daniel Sweren-Becker

book cover for Ilium

Ilium by Lea Carpenter

The cover of “The Plinko Bounce” is an illustration of a plinko board, its holes splattered with blood. At the bottom, a man in a long-sleeved green shirt appears to have fallen; his left hand seems to be grasping at the plinko board.

The Plinko Bounce by Martin Clark

The cover of “Kids Run the Show” features the title in pink capital letters over a photo of a city horizon beneath a gray sky. The silhouettes of three butterflies fly overhead.

Kids Run the Show by Delphine De Vigan

The cover of “The Last One” shows a rope coiled in frothing blue seawater.

The Last One by Will Dean

book cover for First Lie Wins

First Lie Wins by Ashley Elston

The jacket of “My Husband,” by Maud Ventura, is an illustration of a woman’s face. Her crimson lipstick stands out against her pale skin; her eyes are blue. Her blonde hair is swept back and one bright red earring is visible.

My Husband by Maud Ventura

The jacket of “How Can I Help You” is an illustration of an old-fashioned library checkout card, the kind that used to be pasted inside a book’s cover. It is in flames.

How Can I Help You by Laura Sims

Page to screen.

Read the books that inspired Oscar nominees.

book cover for American Prometheus

American Prometheus

By martin sherwin and kai bird.

The film “Oppenheimer” stands on the shoulders of this exhaustive and exhilarating 721-page Pulitzer Prize-winning biography — which took 25 years to complete.

book cover for Killers of the Flower Moon

Killers of the Flower Moon

By david grann.

This 2017 book is a shattering history of oil greed, racism and serial murder. The film version is a different animal, illuminating different aspects of the story.

book cover for Erasure

by Percival Everett

The basis for “American Fiction" is a satire about the publishing industry's biases, and has renewed attention about how much (or little) has changed for nonwhite authors since it came out.

book cover for The Zone of Interest

The Zone of Interest

By martin amis.

Amis's 2014 novel, a love story set at a concentration camp, “builds to a haunting conclusion that slams home the horror of the Holocaust,” our critic wrote.

book cover for Famous Father Girl

Famous Father Girl

By jamie bernstein.

In this 2018 memoir, Leonard Bernstein’s elder daughter is a warm and unsparing witness to her father’s glory — and the fallout of his celebrity.

book cover for Poor Things

Poor Things

By alasdair gray.

Set in 1800s Glasgow, this novel follows a woman who was reanimated by a scientist. It’s a political story that extols Victorian values, but is “witty and delightfully written,” our reviewer said.

The Essential Toni Morrison

I want to read a masterpiece..

book cover for Beloved

I want to read one powerful, not too long, book.

book cover for The Bluest Eye

I want historical fiction that swings.

book cover for Jazz

I love Marvel, mythology and origin stories.

book cover for Song of Solomon

I love books, but make it fashion.

book cover for Tar Baby

I want to read a story about female friendships.

book cover for Sula

My attention span is short.

book cover for Nobel Lecture in Literature

Read more about Toni Morrison's essential works.

Science Fiction and Fantasy

The book cover for “The Saint of Bright Doors” shows an ornate door against a blue background bordered by yellow.

The Saint of Bright Doors by Vajra Chandrasekera

The book cover of “Ink Blood Sister Scribe,” by Emma Törzs, shows an illustration of a plant with a fountain pen for a stem.

Ink Blood Sister Scribe by Emma Törzs

The book cover for “Infinity Gate” shows an image of a planet overlaid with slivers of other images of planets.

Infinity Gate by M.R. Carey

The book cover of “Unraveller” shows a heron whose feet are caught in a spiderweb.

Unraveller by Frances Hardinge

The cover of “Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries” depicts the title in a romantic, stylized font on a black background and surrounded by flowers and mushrooms.

Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett

The book cover of “Untethered Sky,” by Fonda Lee, shows an illustration of a young woman standing on a chariot with a large, falconlike bird flying above her.

Untethered Sky by Fonda Lee

The book cover of “Titanium Noir,” by Nick Harkaway, shows an illustrated silhouette of a man’s head wearing a black fedora. The face is featureless and appears to be made of melting metal.

Titanium Noir by Nick Harkaway

The book cover of “White Cat, Black Dog,” by Kelly Link, shows an illustration of a black dog sitting inside a broken coconut.

White Cat, Black Dog by Kelly Link

The book cover of “Witch King,” by Martha Wells, is an illustration of a woman in a blue, hooded cloak in motion, her hands extended in front of her.

Witch King by Martha Wells

book cover for The Scandalous Confessions of Lydia Bennet, Witch

The Scandalous Confessions of Lydia Bennet, Witch by Melinda Taub

Great new romances.

The cover of “The Marquis Who Musn’t” is an illustration of a man and a woman standing in front of a vivid purple lavender field, with a pink sky behind him. They are embracing, and looking at one another intently.

The Marquis Who Mustn't by Courtney Milan

book cover for With Love, From Cold World

With Love, From Cold World by Alicia Thompson

book cover for Codename Charming

Codename Charming by Lucy Parker

The cover of “Time to Shine” is an illustration of two men in an snowy landscape, with what looks like a big hotel twinkling in the background. One of the men holds a hockey puck, and the other has a pair of ice skates flung over his shoulder.

Time to Shine by Rachel Reid

book cover for The Art of Scandal

The Art of Scandal by Regina Black

The cover of “Not Here to Make Friends” is yellow. In the top right corner, beneath a spotlight, is an illustration of a woman in a purple gown with a high-low hem. In the bottom left corner is an illustration of a man holding a clipboard.

Not Here to Make Friends by Jodi McAlister

The cover of “Don’t Want You Like a Best Friend” is lavender and illustrated with two young women — one blonde, the other brunette — wearing pink ball gowns.

Don't Want You Like a Best Friend by Emma R. Alban

The cover of “A Fire Born of Exile” is an illustration of two young women. One, clad like a warrior and gripping a sword, looks straight at the reader; the other is looking back over her shoulder.

A Fire Born of Exile by Aliette de Bodard

The book cover of “Starling House” is am illustration of a small flock of starlings, their iridescent purple-black wings gleaming. They are nestled in foliage that is flecked with yellow flowers, and several of the starlings hold old-fashioned gold keys in their beaks.

Starling House by Alix E. Harrow

6 short books you can read in a day.

Your literary life doesn’t need to suffer, even if you’re pressed for time.

best new books for 8th graders

The Factory by Hiroko Oyamada

book cover for Tinkers

Tinkers by Paul Harding

book cover for Sula

Sula by Toni Morrison

book cover for Dept. of Speculation

Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

book cover for New People

New People by Danzy Senna

book cover for The Lover's dictionary

The Lover's dictionary by David Levithan

The best children’s books of 2023.

See the full list of 2023's best children's books.

The cover of “What If One Day...,” by Bruce Handy, shows a young girl pointing up at a bird flying in the sky.

What If One Day. . .

Written by bruce handy. illustrated by ashleigh corrin..

In this playful story, precious things (water, the setting sun) are taken from us, and then joyfully returned.

The hand-stamped cover illustration by the Pumphrey brothers for Jason Reynolds’s “There Was a Party for Langston” shows Langston Hughes being carried aloft in a crown adorned with celebratory words by dancing revelers.

There Was a Party for Langston

Written by jason reynolds. illustrated by jerome and jarrett pumphrey..

A poetic picture book makes a party out of language.

A miniature version of a stocky young Black girl in a pink tutu lifts above her head a giant version of the three letters that spell the word “Big” on the cover of Vashti Harrison’s book of the same name.

by Vashti Harrison

A Black second grader is made to feel “too big” in so many ways that she grows almost larger than the book, until the story restores her inner glow.

A cover illustration by Jerry Pinkney and Brian Pinkney, for Nikki Grimes’s “A Walk in the Woods” in the style of a rough sketch washed over with color (in this case mostly greens and yellows, with a touch of turquoise blue), shows a boy walking on a nature trail.

A Walk in the Woods

By nikki grimes, jerry pinkney and brian pinkney.

A wise and heartfelt tale follows a young boy grieving his father, who discovers sketches, poems and a note telling him to draw and write his own story

The cover of the novel “The Eyes & the Impossible,” by Dave Eggers, shows a classical landscape painting, done in 1878, of a path in a sunlit forest. The book’s illustrator, Shawn Harris, in keeping with the painting’s style, has added a dog running toward the reader on the path.

The Eyes and the Impossible

Written by dave eggers. illustrated by shawn harris..

This comedic story for middle-grade readers is narrated by a vivacious dog.

The cover of the graphic memoir “Mexikid,” by Pedro Martín, shows a cartoon drawing of Pedro as a child surrounded by a montage of images from the road trip the book chronicles, most notably his abuelito in a cowboy hat and the Winnebago in which he and his family traveled.

by Pedro Martín

Martín’s wildly entertaining graphic memoir chronicles his family’s 1977 trip in a used Winnebago from California to Jalisco.

A mixed-media illustration on the cover of the novel “Remember Us,” by Jacqueline Woodson, shows a basketball on a sidewalk in front of a brick wall graffitied with faded yellow and orange paint, on top of which the book’s title is scrawled, along with the face of an adolescent Black girl looking pointedly at the reader.

Remember Us

By jacqueline woodson.

Woodson conjures a captivating, elegiac story from the ashes of a frightening summer in 1970s Brooklyn.

What’s on Abraham Verghese’s night stand?

The author of “The Covenant of Water” talked about his reading habits, saying his stack of books “reflects the overlapping compartments of my life.” Read his By the Book interview .

book cover for Of Human Bondage

Of Human Bondage by W. Somerset Maugham

book cover for The Passenger

The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy

book cover for The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

book cover for In the Skin of a Lion

In the Skin of a Lion by Michael Ondaatje

book cover for The Adventures of Augie March

The Adventures of Augie March by Saul Bellow

book cover for The World According to Garp

The World According to Garp by John Irving

A book cover for “Love in the Time of Cholera.” There’s a silhouetted photograph in the center, featuring a man in a long-billed hat. A vaguely floral pattern borders the photo.

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

Happy reading! Check back soon for new recommendations, and find all our coverage at nytimes.com/books

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Explore More in Books

Want to know about the best books to read and the latest news start here..

In her new memoir, “Splinters,” the essayist Leslie Jamison  recounts the birth of her child  and the end of her marriage.

The Oscar-nominated film “Poor Things” is based on a 1992 book by Alasdair Gray. Beloved by writers, it was never widely read  but is now ripe for reconsideration.

Even in countries where homophobia is pervasive and same-sex relationships are illegal, queer African writers are pushing boundaries , finding an audience and winning awards.

In Lucy Sante’s new memoir, “I Heard Her Call My Name,” the author reflects on her life and embarking on a gender transition  in her late 60s.

Do you want to be a better reader?   Here’s some helpful advice to show you how to get the most out of your literary endeavor .

Each week, top authors and critics join the Book Review’s podcast to talk about the latest news in the literary world. Listen here .

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The Best Books for 8th Graders: Fall 2023

A new school year brings me new 8th graders who have reading interests unique to them. During the first quarter of this school year my students have loved so many books. Some books introduced them to new authors and new genres. And of course, students enjoy the tried and true favorite books for middle schoolers. Read on to discover the best books for 8th graders, according to my students.

The best books for 8th graders, recommended by 8th graders.

Best Books For 8th Graders, According to 8th Graders

Best novel in verse: the canyon’s edge by dusti bowling.

One of the best books for 8th graders, The Canyon's Edge.

Nora and her father have gone on a hiking trip to bond. Well, and to distract themselves from the anniversary of Nora losing her mother. But, quickly, this trip turns into a nightmare when Nora and her father are caught at the bottom of a canyon when it suddenly floods.

As Nora faces the challenges of surviving, she must rely on her own courage and resourcefulness. Separated from her resources and her father, Nora battles the physical elements. She also faces some personal struggles along the way.

Told in free verse, readers are taken on a journey of survival and hope with Nora on her climb out of the canyon and onto the other side of tragedy.

Best Graphic Novel: Hoops by Matt Tavares

If you are looking for a book to read for your middle schoolers, Hoops is an inspiring story.

When my students requested that I add more graphic novels and more books within the sports genre, Hoops by Matt Tavares was a perfect addition to our classroom library.

Hoops is set in Indiana in 1975 and follows the story of the first year of the Wilkins Regional High School girls’ basketball team. One of the things that makes this a good book for 8th graders is that middle school students are facing choices about what they care about and are willing to fight for.

That is exactly what the characters do in Hoops. Most importantly, students will enjoy a fictional story inspired by true events.

Best Mystery Book: A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder by Holly Jackson

One of the most requested books from by 8th grade students.

By far one of the best, and most requested books, this fall! Your students will love A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder if mystery, suspense, and a little love story are what they want in a good book.

Even better, it is the first book in a series, so you’re students will know exactly what to read after finishing this book. Soon you’ll find your students running their own book club to discuss the book that everyone is reading!

Favorite Series Book: School Trip by Jerry Craft

Students will enjoy School Trip and the situations the students find themselves in, making this a good book for 8th graders.

If your 8th grade students take the traditional school trip to Washington D.C., you must add this book to your classroom library.

All of the same characters from New Kid are back, and traveling to Paris for a school trip. As you can imagine, events do not go according to plan, and readers are taken on an adventure through an unfamiliar city.

Best Dystopian Book: The Maze Runner by James Dashner

This has been a favorite series of my students for 4 years running.

The Maze Runner lands on students’ best books to read list year after year. If you’ve watched the movie, or read the books yourself, you’ll know why.

I use this book as an option for our dystopian book clubs unit and the story does not disappoint. Readers have to uncover why the characters are in an unfamiliar place and navigate all of the rules of the society. Then, the action kicks in and students just can’t put the book down until they find out what happens to all of the characters!

Also, this is the first book of a great series, making it a great addition to the best books for 8th graders list.

Favorite Memoir: Sunshine by Jarrett Krosoczka

One of the best memoirs and in a graphic novel.

What makes a story about volunteers at a camp for families with cancer one of the best books for 8th graders?

First, Jarrett Krosoczka writes and illustrates his own books. This makes the story come alive to students. Then, he tells a story that reveals parts of himself and others that are both great and sometimes not so great. Middle schoolers can definitely relate to that!

On top of the relatability, students share that this story gives them perspective. It makes them think about how good or bad things are for them. And what they can do to help make the lives of others a little better.

Favorite Author: Two Degrees by Alan Gratz

Alan Gratz is a favorite author for many readers in middle school.

Alan Gratz knows how to write books for middle schoolers! So it is no surprise Two Degrees is on my students’ best books list.

This story follows three characters, much like Gratz’s famous story, Refugee . But in Two Degrees , the characters face challenges due to the impact of climate change. From Miami, Florida, to California, to Alaska, students read about how climate change impacts our world.

These books aren’t the only best books for 8th graders, but these were the most requested books by my 8th graders. And based on their reading notebooks, analysis activity projects, and self-reflections, students truly enjoyed the stories!

Whether your students read these books or others, I hope independent reading is thriving in your classroom.

And if you struggle to share about books in your classroom, I have a free guide for you!

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The Best Nonfiction Books for 8th Graders (13-Year-Olds)

  • Post by: Professor Conquer
  • Last updated on: September 9, 2021

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Do you feel a little overwhelmed by your 8th grader’s desire for autonomy? Are you frustrated with the burgeoning teenage angst? Does your 8th grader need some perspective on how complex, unusual, challenging, and exciting the world is? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’ve come to the right place: an in-depth look into the best nonfiction books for 8th graders.

Is your 8th grader’s teenage angst connected to reading nonfiction? It sure is! This reason is why we have compiled a list of the best nonfiction books for 8 th graders.

Nonfiction books for kids are a fantastic way to shape their worldview and to challenge them to think about people with respect, empathy, and compassion. Nonfiction books can also encourage your 8th grader to see the world outside of their limited teenage perspective. This list showcases the best nonfiction books for 8th graders to help them see the world differently, to understand people better, and to reconsider how their teenage years might not be as bad as they seem.

Keep reading to discover the best nonfiction books for 8th graders to read!

Why Reading Nonfiction is Important for 8th Graders

Reading is a necessary skill—regardless of genre or style. Having a general ability to read and comprehend material is needed, yet loving books need cultivating at a young age. It doesn’t happen overnight.

For 8th graders, the world sometimes appears insular, yet all-consuming. They are easily overwhelmed by their own lives. Nonfiction books are informational, yet engaging, and for 8th graders, these books can introduce them to life outside their limited perspective. This list contains some of the best nonfiction books that inspire critical thinking for 8th graders.

Keep reading to find out some of the most popular 8th grade nonfiction books!

Award Winning Nonfiction Books for 8th Graders

Award Winning Nonfiction Books for 8th Graders

1. Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card by Sara Saedi

If being a teenager isn’t a complicated process already, in Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card , Sara Saedi writes about being a teenaged, undocumented immigrant from the Middle East. Saedi writes about her experience coming to terms with being undocumented in America, sharing about her family’s hard work and dedication to provide a better life for her and her sister. Both funny and serious, this is an example of a great nonfiction book that inspires critical thinking, prompting 8th graders to reconsider their worldview. Sara Saedi books is one of the best books for 8th graders to read about the immigrant experience.

Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card

  • Saedi, Sara (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 304 Pages - 03/26/2019 (Publication Date) - Ember (Publisher)

Last update: 2024-02-22

2. How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson

Written about the Civil Rights era, Marilyn Nelson recounts her teenage years through the lens of poetry. A Newbery Honor winner and National Book Award finalist, Marilyn Nelson writes about her childhood and teenage years in the 1950s in How I Discovered Poetry . This is one of the best nonfiction books for 8th graders, because it is a mixture of poetry and prose, tracing Nelson’s encounters with inequality, racial tensions, Civil Rights, the Cold War era, and the beginnings of second-wave feminism. As a first-hand account of African-American history and experience, this is a good nonfiction book for 8th graders.

How I Discovered Poetry

  • Nelson, Marilyn (Author)
  • 112 Pages - 03/08/2016 (Publication Date) - Rocky Pond Books (Publisher)

3. Taking Hold: From Migrant Childhood to Columbia University by Francisco Jiménez

Taking Hold: From Migrant Childhood to Columbia University is the fourth book in Francisco Jiménez ‘s award-winning memoir series. Living everything behind—family, girlfriend, his entire life in California, he moves to New York City to attend Columbia University. A poignant illustration of the Latino experience in American culture, Jiménez shares the intimate details of his past and his endeavor for success in a heartwarming, resilient manner. This is a fantastic nonfiction book for 8th graders, because it does demonstrate the determination of one man and his desire to attain his dreams. Be sure to check out this popular 8 th grade book!

Taking Hold: From Migrant Childhood to Columbia University (The Circuit, 4)

  • Book - taking hold: from migrant childhood to columbia university
  • Language: english
  • Binding: paperback

The Best Arts Nonfiction Books for 8th Graders

The Best Arts Nonfiction Books for 8th Graders

4. The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler by John Hendrix

Are you looking for a great nonfiction book for an 8th grader who loves art? Take a look at this! In an interwoven mixture of handwritten text and artistic illustration, John Hendrix shares about the outrage of pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer breaks away from the German church, upset with its acceptance of suffering. After the Nazis outlaw church, he escapes, and after reconciling his faith with Biblical teaching, he aims to stop Hitler. Using his signature style, John Hendrix shares the true story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This 8th grade biography book is perfect for history and art buffs alike!

The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler

  • Hendrix, John (Author)
  • 176 Pages - 09/18/2018 (Publication Date) - Abrams Fanfare (Publisher)

Last update: 2024-02-23

5. Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

In this provocative memoir, Jarrett J. Krosoczka shares about art and how it saved his life. Tracing his experiences back to kindergarten, Krosoczka details on a moment that forever shaped his identity: drawing a family picture. With an absent father and a mother in rehab, Krosoczka talks about being raised by his opinionated grandparents. With quirky challenges, he details how that moment in kindergarten provided him with a way to process his childhood through art. This 8th grade level nonfiction book is a reminder that family and identity are difficult and complicated, but there is hope—maybe even in art. Be sure to check out this popular 8 th grade book!

Hey, Kiddo: A Graphic Novel

  • Krosoczka, Jarrett J. (Author)
  • 320 Pages - 10/09/2018 (Publication Date) - Graphix (Publisher)

The Best History Nonfiction Books for 8th Graders

The Best History Nonfiction Books for 8th Graders

6. The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century by Sarah Miller

Heard this before?: “Lizzie Borden took an ax, gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.” In The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century, Sarah Miller brings readers along on a journey as she investigates the murder of Andrew and Abby Borden, parents of Lizzie Borden. Accompanied by period photos and newspaper clippings, this is a good nonfiction book for 8th graders. This is a fantastic nonfiction book for kids interested in mystery and murder!

The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century

  • Miller, Sarah (Author)
  • 336 Pages - 05/07/2019 (Publication Date) - Yearling (Publisher)

7. Alice Paul and the Fight for Women's Rights: From the Vote to the Equal Rights Amendment by Deborah Kops

In Alice Paul and the Fight for Women’s Rights: From the Vote to the Equal Rights Amendment , Deborah Kops writes about harrowing leader Alice Paul, a figure that was heavily involved in the women’s suffrage movement. In this struggle for votes for women, Paul was a pivotal figure in helping women achieve equality with men. In 1920, when women warranted the right to vote, Paul wrote the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which made the laws that discriminated against women. For any 8th graders who are interested in learning more about the 20th century, this is a good nonfiction book to inspire critical thinking skills. Be sure to check out this popular 8th grade book about women’s rights!

Alice Paul and the Fight for Women's Rights: From the Vote to the Equal Rights Amendment

  • Hardcover Book
  • Kops, Deborah (Author)

The Best Science Nonfiction Books for 8th Graders

The Best Science Nonfiction Books for 8th Graders

best new books for 8th graders

8. Blood, Bullets, and Bones: The Story of Forensic Science by Bridget Heos

Have an 8th grader interested in nonfiction accounts of murder, mystery, and science? Blood, Bullets, and Bones: The Story of Forensic Science is a good nonfiction book for 8th graders interested in the field of forensics. Considering the popularity of DNA testing and shows like CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, forensic analysis has continued to intrigue people. However, it is essential to remember that forensic analysis has been used for thousands of years—dating back even before Jack the Ripper cases in Victorian England. Author Bridget Heos uses real-life examples to display modern forensic science. For teenagers interested in forensic science, from fingerprinting to DNA evidence, this is one of the best nonfiction books for 8th graders!

Blood, Bullets, and Bones: The Story of Forensic Science from Sherlock Holmes to DNA

  • Heos, Bridget (Author)
  • 272 Pages - 02/20/2018 (Publication Date) - Balzer + Bray (Publisher)

The Best Biography Nonfiction Books for 8th Graders

The Best Biography Nonfiction Books for 8th Graders

9. Unpresidented: A Biography of Donald Trump by Martha Brockenbrough

For the curious 8th grader who would like to learn more about POTUS 45, Unpresidented: A Biography of Donald Trump is a great nonfiction book to learn about the road that led Trump to the White House. In this well-researched and gripping tale, author Martha Brockenbrough begins with Donald Trump’s privileged beginnings, discussing Trump’s mediocre military school career and how he made his fortune in the family real estate business. Examining his time as reality TV star up to his candidacy announcement, Brockenbrough provides fascinating details about Donald J. Trump, 45th President of the United States of America. This is a good biography book for 8th graders who are eager to learn more about the 45th president.

Unpresidented: A Biography of Donald Trump

  • Brockenbrough, Martha (Author)

The Best Sports Nonfiction Books for 8th Graders

The Best Sports Nonfiction Books for 8th Graders

10. Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team by Steve Sheinkin

Recently released, Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team is an excellent biography book for 8th graders. Author Steve Sheinkin traces the rise of athlete Jim Thorpe and his partnership with Pop Warner at the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania. A successful American football team, this book explores how Jim Thorpe and his team defeated many wealthy schools; Sheinkin also focuses on the persecution of the Native American community. This is a good nonfiction book for 8th graders who are interested in football and sports, with Native American culture and persistence as the backdrop to this provocative story.

Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team

  • Sheinkin, Steve (Author)

FAQ When Buying Nonfiction Books for 8th Graders

FAQ When Buying Nonfiction Books for 8th Graders

It’s no secret that teenagers are a demanding crowd. They oftentimes have no idea what they like, or they have to strictly follow the current mob mentality. However, reading can be a great way to grab a teenager’s attention, helping them view the world outside of their limited knowledge and perspective. Reading nonfiction books that inspire critical thinking is extremely beneficial to an 8th grader.

Nonfiction books for 8th graders should be challenging, encouraging them to consider the complexities of the world in a new way. Additionally, many 8th graders will still need texts that are fitting to their reading level. This is why this list covers some of the most popular 8 th grade books!

Keep reading for more instructions and advice on finding the best nonfiction for an 8th grader!

What’s the Best Way to Find the Reading Level of a Book?

There are a couple of different ways to determine the reading level of a book. Check out the front or back cover of a book; if that doesn’t work, skim the copyright page. If a book doesn’t have the reading level included on or inside the book, there are a few other ways to check it out. Nonfiction books for 8th graders can either be targeted to middle age or high school readers.

To identify the appropriate reading level, you can also quickly scan the book’s contents. Other options include internet research or looking at school book lists. The New York Public Library has a great list of age-appropriate books with their reading levels. The best nonfiction books for 8th graders should be accessible, yet stimulating.

What’s the Average Reading Rate for an 8th Grader?

Researchers anticipate that an 8th grade student can read approximately 180-230 words per minute. Dr. Beth M. Frye from Appalachian State University in North Carolina created calculation to configure word speed based on a time limit and page numbers. You can find the link here with the estimate and reading rate chart breakdown. The best books for an 8th grader to read are often slightly above their average reading level.

Is 8th Grade A Good Time to Introduce More Nonfiction to a Young Reader?

There is not an explicit “good time” for introducing nonfiction to 8th graders; however, the earlier the better is probably a good time—or, now! An interest in reading needs cultivating at a young age, but because nonfiction is more fact-based, it often appeals to a broader audience.

Find a topic or theme that interests to your 8th grader and start there. Nonfiction books are a great way to engage an 8th grader who is entering the teenage years. Nonfiction books that inspire critical thinking can help shape your teenager’s perspective!

What Makes a Good Nonfiction Book for an 8th Grader

Because 8th graders are entering their teenage years, it can be difficult to find a book that gauges their interest. However, as their worldview is beginning to transition, it is a good idea to intrigue them with nonfiction books that are related to their interest. Many 8th graders will want less childish books, preferencing nonfiction books that are for a more mature audience. Take a look at popular 8th grade books and see what nonfiction middle-age books are trending!

Wrapping Things Up: The Best Nonfiction Books for 8th Graders

There are far too many nonfiction books even to begin to include all of them on this list, but the texts on this list portray different genres, themes, and experiences. Encourage 8th graders to engage with different styles. This way, they can discover new ideas, and they can experience what it means to learn on their own.

Encourage your 8th grader to be independent by introducing nonfiction books that are diverse, exciting, and engaging. Reading nonfiction books should be fun! Hope this list of the best nonfiction books for 8 th graders has been helpful!

Did you enjoy this post? Then you may also like our posts on the best 6th grade non-fiction books and 7th grade non-fiction books . You can also check out our 8th grade reading list here .

We also go over the best middle school books of all time here .

Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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Historical Fiction Books For 8th Graders (Age 13)

31 Thrilling Historical Fiction Books For 8th Graders (Age 13)

Historical fiction offers young readers the opportunity to travel through time, immersing themselves in different eras, cultures, and events while enjoying captivating stories. For 8th graders, this genre provides a unique blend of education and entertainment, fostering a deeper understanding of history and human experiences.

In this post, we will explore 31 Thrilling Historical Fiction Books For 8th Graders.

The books mentioned in this post are based on comprehensive research and reviews and are considered some of the best Historical Fiction Books For 8th Graders.

Are You In a Hurry?

If you’re in a hurry, your search is over! We have selected three highly recommended historical fiction books.

A House of Night Novella

Table of contents, overview of the 31 thrilling historical fiction books for 8th graders.

Let’s get started…

Note : You can purchase these books by clicking on the title link. Please note that the links to purchase these books are affiliate links from Amazon.

In “Fever 1793” by Laurie Halse Anderson, meet Mattie Cook. It’s the summer of 1793, and Mattie lives above a coffee shop with her mom and grandpa. She wants to make the shop the best. But then a dangerous fever spreads, and everything changes. Mattie’s mom is sick, so they leave the city with her grandpa. But the sickness is everywhere. Mattie has to learn how to stay safe in a sick city. The book shows how Mattie fights to survive during this hard time.

Across Five Aprils

“Across Five Aprils” by Irene Hunt is about a boy named Jethro. It’s set in 1861 when he’s just nine years old. His older brother Tom and cousin Eb go off to fight in a big war. The war divides his family, and Jethro has to figure out how to deal with feelings and problems. This story shows what life was like during the Civil War, how Jethro grows up, and how things were uncertain during that time.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

“The Witch of Blackbird Pond” by Elizabeth George Speare is about a girl named Kit Tyler. She comes to colonial in 1687, leaving her home. She struggles to live in this new area. Kit becomes friends with Hannah, who the people think is a witch. This friendship makes Kit think about what she should do. The book follows Kit as she figures out who she is and how to make hard choices about her feelings.

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch

Determination

“Carry On, Mr. Bowditch” by Jean Lee Latham is about Nathaniel Bowditch, who knew a lot about ships and math. Even though he was small and people didn’t think he could do anything, He worked hard and wrote a famous book called “The American Practical Navigator.” People were amazed and respected him a lot. This book tells Nat’s story of learning and success.

I Know an Old Lady

In “I Know an Old Lady” by Margaret Standafer, it’s the hot summer of 1972 in Kansas. Teens are having fun with new freedom. They go to the lake. But Billy Tupper’s life is different. He makes a mistake and has to work for Old Lady. As Billy works and looks into things, he learns about her and himself. This story is about growing up and understanding, showing how a family comes together.

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle

In “The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle” by Avi, is set in 1832 during the summer. Charlotte Doyle goes on a sea journey from England to Rhode Island. She was alone with a mean captain and a crew. Things get tense, and Charlotte gets involved in their problems. Her trip becomes tough and scary. Charlotte needs to be brave and face this situation.

Woods Runner

“Woods Runner” by Gary Paulsen is a story about Samuel, who lives on the American frontier. He hunts for food and knows little about the war against the British. Suddenly, the war reaches his home when British soldiers attack. Samuel’s parents are taken as captives, so he sets out to rescue them. He faces danger and meets secret allies who help him. This book shows the bravery and determination of a young boy during a challenging time.

In “Tex” by S. E. Hinton, meet Tex, a happy teenager. He likes his horse Negrito and has a crush on Jamie. Tex lives with his brother Mason. Mason is unhappy about their dad not being home. Mason wants money. Tex often gets into trouble. When things start going wrong, Tex has to find a way to make them better. This story is about Tex’s problems and how he deals with them.

Hattie Big Sky

In “Hattie Big Sky” by Kirby Larson, Hattie is tired of moving around. She decides to move to Montana. She faces tough weather and challenges. Hattie finds a new family in her neighborhood. Hattie’s determination and courage are tested until a sad event makes her question the meaning of home.

The Downstairs Girl

“The Downstairs Girl” by Stacey Lee is about Jo Kuan. She’s a maid during the day for a rich family. But at night, she secretly writes an advice queue. Jo talks about important things. When people start guessing who she is, this puts her in danger. The book shows how Jo is brave as she faces challenges and learns important lessons.

Dark Water Rising

In “Dark Water Rising” by Marian Hale, meet Seth. It’s the start of the 20th century and Seth and his family move to Galveston for a good school. Seth has a job and enjoys his life, but things change when a storm attacks. Huge waves and trash hit the city, causing destruction. Seth’s family fights to survive the disaster. The story captures the challenges they face and their fight for survival.

The Rock and the River

“The Rock and the River” by Kekla Magoon is about Sam, whose dad fights for civil rights. His best friend, Stick, starts to support something stronger. Sam has a hard choice. He joins Stick, which gets risky. Sam has to pick between his dad’s teachings and his own feelings. This book shows how Sam deals with problems in a changing world.

A Land Remembered

In “A Land Remembered” by Patrick D. Smith, the story takes place in Florida. It tells about the MacIvey family over many years, facing the challenges of living in the wild land. With an interesting history and characters, the book shows how they built their lives in the Florida swamp.

In “Bad Boy” by Walter Dean Myers, the author’s childhood comes to life. He was strong and often got into fights, yet he loved reading and dreamed of becoming a writer. Despite his ambitions, he faced challenges. This book captures his journey, exploring his struggles.

“In ‘Forge’ by Laurie Halse Anderson, Curzon is a slave dealing with tough times in Valley Forge. The story shows how Curzon grows up, makes friends, and tries to find freedom. They all face cold weather and hard challenges, but they never give up.

Calico Captive

“Calico Captive” by Elizabeth George Speare is set in 1754 in Charlestown. When an Indian raid disrupts the town, young Miriam’s life takes a turn. Captured and forced to march during the French and Indian War, Miriam faces problems. The story unfolds as Miriam reaches Montreal, where unexpected meetings change her life.

The Light in the Forest

“The Light in the Forest” by Mary Ellen is a story about a boy who grows up with Indians. John is captured when he’s young and becomes part of the tribe. But after eleven years, a treaty says he must go back to his original family. Now John has to adjust to his old life again.

The Last Mission 

In “The Last Mission” by Harry Mazer, set during World War II, Jack Raab is eager to be a hero. He leaves behind his family and joins the U.S. Air Force. Jack and his crew fly dangerous bombing missions. As the war nears its end, they undertake their final mission, which goes terribly wrong. After being shot down and captured, Jack becomes a prisoner in a German camp. His experiences there are even more terrifying than he could have ever imagined. This novel follows Jack’s journey through challenges during a critical time in history.

The Secret School 

“The Secret School” by Avi tells the story of Ida Bidson, a girl with a strong desire to become a teacher. Her dream faces obstacles when her school closes. Determined to keep the school open, Ida creates a secret school to continue her education. However, a school needs a teacher, and Ida wonders if she can fulfill that role. This novel captures Ida’s determination and her journey.

Love & War

“Love & War” by Melissa de la Cruz tells about the love between Alexander and Elizabeth during the American Revolution. While they are married, the war makes things hard. Alex wants to do something important in the war, and Eliza wants a better future. After the war, they face new problems. They go through tough times, and their love is tested. The book is a story about love and strength during an important time in America’s past.

Stormy Seas

“Stormy Seas” by L. J. Martin is about a young man named Jake Zane who comes to San Francisco. The city is filled with a mix of good and bad people. Jake gets involved with a dangerous gang. He has a friend named Lord who helps him. Jake starts working on ships and learns a lot during his journey. The book follows Jake’s adventures as he navigates through challenges and new experiences.

Two Thousand Grueling Miles

In “Two Thousand Grueling Miles” by L. J. Martin, a young boy named Jake has an important job to take care of his family, while traveling. They face many difficulties, like a very long and tough journey with no proper roads, dangerous animals, and bad weather. Many families are traveling together, but sickness and accidents make things even harder. The story is about how they travel on the Oregon Trail to find a better life.

Under a Painted Sky

“Under a Painted Sky” by Stacey Lee is about a girl named Samantha. She wants to go back to New York to play her music, but it’s hard because she’s Chinese. But when a tragic event changes her life and she breaks the law, she has to escape with Annamae, a slave. But trouble keeps finding them, and life on the Oregon Trail is full of challenges. The story is about their journey and struggles as they try to survive and find a better future.

In “A House of Night Novella” by P. C. Cast, the story is set in 1893. Emily’s life changes when her mother dies. When Emily is Marked by a vampyre and taken to Chicago, she starts a new magical life. The book explores Emily’s journey and transformation in a world of darkness.

Outrun the Moon

In “Outrun the Moon” by Stacey Lee, Mercy Wong is determined to escape San Francisco’s Chinatown. However, when an earthquake hits the city on April 18, Mercy’s life takes a turn. Her home and school are destroyed, and she finds herself in a park with her classmates. Despite the destruction, she becomes strong and helps everyone. This story is about Mercy as she deals with the earthquake and tries to make her broken city better.

Across the Great Barrier

“In Across the Great Barrier” by Patricia C. Wrede, Eff goes on a trip to the West, leaving her city behind. She can be a strong magician, but she’s not sure. People expect great things from her. Her brother Lan is jealous of the attention she gets. Even though she says she’s just a regular girl. This story mixes magic and bravery in the wild west.

In “Rowdy” by Chris Mullen, Rowdy survives a tragic attack that leaves his family dead and his home in flames. Alone and determined to honor his father’s legacy, Rowdy begins a journey along the Mississippi River. He learns the ways of the trade. As he faces challenges from bullying, Rowdy’s strength and bravery are put to the test. With courage and determination, he fights for what’s right and learns important lessons about life and bravery.

Dead End in Norvelt

“Dead End in Norvelt” is about a boy named Jack Gantos. He’s stuck at home for the summer, but then he helps his neighbor write stories about the town’s founders who have passed away. This leads to a strange adventure. The book is funny and full of adventure, taking you on an exciting journey.

Curse of the Blue Tattoo

In “Curse of the Blue Tattoo” by L. A. Meyer, Jacky Faber, a girl who pretended to be a boy on a ship, is now at a fancy school in Boston. She struggles to fit in as a proper young lady after her adventurous life at sea. Her manners and skills are not like other girls. Join her on this journey as she tries to fit in and navigate a world of manners and mysteries.

Where the Broken Heart Still Beats

“Where the Broken Heart Still Beats” by Carolyn Meyer is about Ann Parker, who was taken captive by a group when she was young. She lived with them and even became a chief’s wife. After a long time, she was taken back to her original group. The story shows how different groups of people had conflicts and how Ann faced challenges.

“Bluebird” by Sharon Cameron is a story from 1946. Eva moves from Berlin to New York City with a dangerous secret named Project Bluebird. This secret experiment could change the world’s power balance. Both Americans and Soviets want it. Eva wants justice and struggles to survive. The book is full of suspense and secrets after World War II.

We hope that our list of  historical  fiction  books  for  8th graders  has given you some excellent options to choose from and your 8th grader  will have the pleasure of exploring these  historical  books .

The  historical   fiction  books  recommended in this list have been thoroughly researched and reviewed, and are considered some of the best  Historical  Fiction  Books  For 8th Graders . While I may not have personally  read  all of these books , they have been highly recommended by other readers.

We would love to hear from you about which  book  your  13 year olds enjoyed the most, or if there is a favorite  book  that we missed. Please leave your comments and feedback below.

Best wishes and happy  reading  to you and your family!

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My name is Abdul, a passionate reader and lover of fiction books. With a deep love for books and years of experience in reading and reviewing fiction books, I am dedicated to sharing my passion for reading with others.

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Detail from Strong Like Me, illustrated by Michaela Dias-Hayes.

Children’s and teens roundup – the best new picture books and novels

A show of inner strength; stone age family life; a brilliant guide to the brain; plus a whistlestop tour of queer history and more

Eviltato vs Superpea by Sue Hendra and Paul Linnet , Simon & Schuster, £7.99 When everyone’s favourite potato goes bad, it’s up to the (temporarily) reformed Evil Pea to save the day before Supertato squirty-creams the entire supermarket. The latest in this riotously silly picture-book series continues to delight.

Strong Like Me by Kelechi Okafor and Michaela Dias-Hayes , Puffin, £7.99 After Kamara’s classmates accuse her of showing off, she struggles to take pride in her strength – but when her aunt tells her not to dim her light to please others, she discovers there are many ways to be strong. A warm, inspiring picture book, celebrating achievement and compassion.

Our Nipa Hut: A Story in the Philippines by Rachell Abalos (Author), Gabriela Larios (Illustrator)

Mo’s Best Friend – A Stone-Age Story by Bridget Marzo , Otter-Barry , £12.99 Inspired by the discovery of a child’s footprint alongside a dog’s in the Chauvet cave, this immersive, beautifully illustrated picture book tells a sweet tale of stone age family life – and a new four-footed addition.

Our Nipa Hut - A Story in the Philippines by Rachell Abalos and Gabriela Larios , Barefoot Books, £7.99 This colourful, fascinating 4+ picture book introduces readers to “nipa huts” – stilt houses made of bamboo and palm leaves – and how their human families mend and look after them, especially after storms.

Dr Roopa’s Body Books: The Brilliant Brain by Dr Roopa Farooki (Author), Viola Wang (Illustrator)

The Brilliant Brain by Dr Roopa Farooki and Viola Wang , Walker, £12.99 Both straightforward and intriguing, filled with bright, illustrations, this introduction to the brain details its structures, how it works, and how best to take care of it. It’s perfect for reading aloud to children of four and up, or for independent readers who’ll enjoy showing off vocabulary such as “occipital” and “cerebrum”.

Little Dinosaurs, Big Feelings by Swapna Haddow & Dr Diplo and Yiting Lee , Magic Cat, £14.99 In these engaging mini-stories, 10 little dinosaurs encounter emotions like fear, anger and excitement, learning to name and navigate their feelings with the help of Dr Diplo’s gentle mindfulness exercises. Soft colours, plentiful smiles and supportive warmth make this an invaluable collection for small readers of 5+.

What a Rock Can Reveal by Maya Wei-Haas, illustrated by Sonia Pulido, Phaidon, £16.95 Irrepressible excitement pervades this journey through the mysteries of geology, encouraging 6+ readers to engage with the stories even the simplest pebble might tell. Pulido’s sweetshop-coloured pictures perfectly complement Wei-Haas’s text, evoking enticing textures and blazing hidden depths.

Murray and Bun – Murray the Viking by Adam Stower, HarperCollins, £6.99 Staid, quiet Murray is a comfort-loving cat. Unfortunately, he belongs to the incompetent wizard Fumblethumb, who first turned Murray’s sticky bun into an excitable rabbit sidekick, and has now enchanted his catflap so it leads to unwanted adventures. When Murray and Bun find themselves on a mission to rescue a Viking called Eggrik from some trolls, chaos ensues in this daft, lively, lavishly illustrated adventure for readers of 7+.

The Time Travellers: Adventure Calling (The Time Travellers, 1) by Sufiya Ahmed (Author), Alessia Trunfio (Illustrator)

Time Travellers – Adventure Calling by Sufiya Ahmed , Little Tiger, £7.99 On a school trip to parliament, rebellious Suhana is surprised to find herself teaming up with “good kids” Mia and Ayaan – and the three new pals definitely don’t expect to be transported back to 1911, into the midst of a coronation and a march for women’s rights. Can they get back home safely – and do all three of them want to go home? Short, pacy and thought-provoking, this thrilling 8+ novel focuses on the suffrage movement, especially the women of colour often erased by history.

On Silver Tides by Sylvia Bishop, Andersen, £8.99 Kelda and her family are boat-dwelling silvermen who can breathe and swim like fish – but Kelda’s sister Isla is different. As their community turns against them, poisoned waterways and painful betrayals drive Kelda to attempt a terrifying journey. A shimmering, stark, original novel for 12+, richly characterised and unforgettably atmospheric.

Stitch by Pádraig Kenny

Stitch by Pádraig Kenny , Walker, £7.99 Brought to life by Professor Hardacre, Stitch has been awake for 585 days, although his creator has not been seen for months. When the professor’s nephew arrives, the castle is thrown into uproar, and Stitch and his friend Henry Oaf are forced to flee. But the world outside reacts with horror, calling them “monsters” … Written from Stitch’s innocent but clear-sighted perspective, Kenny’s revisiting of Frankenstein is a poignant, deeply rewarding Gothic story for 9+.

Reggie Houser Has the Power by Helen Rutter, Scholastic , £7.99 Although Reggie’s busy brain makes it hard for him to follow rules and make friends, he’s determined that secondary school will be different. When he learns some skills from a hypnotist, he’s sure this will be his passport to popularity. But hypnotising the headteacher gets Reggie into big trouble – and some of the kids want Reggie to use his powers for evil … A funny, sensitive story for 9+, featuring a hilariously likable protagonist and a sympathetic, well-informed portrayal of ADHD.

Cross My Heart and Never Lie by Nora Dåsnes , translated by Matt Bagguley , Farshore, £10.99 At the start of seventh grade Tuva’s friends are suddenly different, split down the middle between the ones who fall in love and the ones who can’t be bothered. Now they’re demanding Tuva choose a side – and why is she so fascinated with the new girl, Mariam? A comically adorable coming of age story for 12+, this Norwegian graphic novel astutely explores the awkwardness of preteen metamorphosis and the pitfalls of “maturity”.

Queerbook by Malcom MacKenzie , Red Shed, £8.99 This affirming whistlestop tour through queer history and culture features an A-Z of camp icons as well as protest timelines, changing terminology, iconic artists, music, film and more. Engaging, witty and thoughtful, it’s full of a supportive kindness that LGBTQ+ teens may find indispensable.

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin

The Bad Ones by Melissa Albert , Penguin, £8.99 One winter’s night Nora’s best friend Becca goes missing, along with three other people. Becca’s left coded messages, but they seem to point back into the past: to another disappearance 30 years ago, and to the sinister figure of a predatory goddess, a neighbourhood urban legend. Can Nora sift the town’s dark secrets and bring Becca safely home? An instantly addictive and well-crafted supernatural mystery for 14+, from the author of The Hazel Wood.

Elsewhere and Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin , Bloomsbury , both £8.99 First published in the mid-noughties, these YA reissues from the bestselling author of Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow are showing their age a little. In Elsewhere, Liz awakens on a mysterious boat, gradually realising that she is now in the afterlife; in Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, Naomi awakens after a head injury to discover she has almost no memory of life before the accident. Zevin’s characterisation doesn’t quite deliver on either plot’s potential interest, but both pose intriguing questions about identity and connection.

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21 Read Aloud Books for 7th and 8th Grade

This post may contain affiliate links.

What are the best middle grade read aloud books for 7th and 8th grade?

Are they too old for read alouds? No way! Reading aloud to middle school students in 7th and 8th grade benefits them just as much as in elementary school. Immeasurably.

Besides the enjoyment kids get when listening to a story (who among us doesn’t love a good audiobook?), you can introduce your 12- and 13-year-old readers to a new author or book series, expose them to an important topic or issue, study a component of writing and author’s craft, and share an underappreciated genre.

What will your purpose be for reading aloud to your middle school students?

See if these recommended books are a good fit for your purposes…

PRINTABLE LIST

ALSO READ: Best Books for 8th Graders Good Books for 7th Graders Good Books for Teens in High School

Middle School Read Aloud Books for 7th and 8th Grade

best new books for 8th graders

Gone to the Woods by Gary Paulsen MEMOIR This is a compelling, disturbing, and hopeful childhood story of hardship and survival with moments of kindness and time in nature that sustain the neglected, determined young boy. If you love Gary Paulsen’s stories or just enjoy survival and growing up stories, DON’T MISS this powerful book! Also, Paulsen writes his memoir in the third person which is an interesting choice and one that works extremely well…

best new books for 8th graders

Black Bird, Blue Road  by Sofiya Pasternack Set in the historical Turkic Jewish empire of Khazaria, Ziva’s beloved twin brother with leprosy continues to deteriorate.  When she learns he’ll be taken away by her uncle to die elsewhere, she steals him away to search for a cure. Along their journey, they meet a half-demon boy who tells them about a mythical city where the Angel of Death can not enter. They journey toward the city, and Ziva clings to the hope that the city will be the answer to everything. She’ll bargain and beg with Death, but ultimately, she’ll have to accept that in life, there always is death.

Read Aloud Books for 7th and 8th Grade

Starfish by Lisa Fipps REALISTIC / BODY IMAGE & SIZE / VERSE Heartbreaking and inspiring, this poignant story in verse shows a girl who learns, after years of fat-shaming and bullying, to define herself not based on what others say but on who she really is. Ellie’s mom won’t buy her new clothes because she thinks it encourages Ellie’s weight gain and is pushing for a dangerous gastro-bypass surgery. Fortunately, Ellie gets support from an understanding therapist who helps her move from powerless to powerful — and accept herself as she is–beautiful and worthy. 

Read Aloud Books for 7th and 8th Grade

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander REALISTIC / VERSE Because this is written in verse , this is a fast read but packs a big punch, especially for boys. Basketball player and twin Josh narrates his life in quarters, just like the game he plays. He writes about missing his twin when his twin, Jordan, gets a girlfriend; about getting in trouble when he hits Jordan in the face with a basketball; and about watching his father as his heart fails. This is a coming-of-age, gripping story about a boy who is just trying to figure out life like most boys at age 12.

best new books for 8th graders

Rain Rising  by Courtne Comrie REALISTIC RAIN RISING is a multilayered story about mental health , racism, family, friendship, and self-love — with a main character that you’ll cheer on through her tricky and beautiful growing-up journey.  Rain’s older brother Xander always has taken good care of her; he helps her on her saddest days, especially after their dad left and their mom is gone at work most of the time. But, when Xander gets brutally attacked, he’s a shell of himself and barely speaks…and Rain can barely cope. In an after-school group, she starts to make new friends, and slowly finds her way back to health through the group and therapy. I LOVE this book. ( Sensitive readers: this story contains cutting. )

best new books for 8th graders

Chapter Books About Life in Middle School

best new books for 8th graders

Read Aloud Books for 6th Grade

read aloud book lists for all ages

All Read Aloud Book Lists for Ages 0 – 13

11 Ways to Motivate Middle School Students to Read

11 Ways to Motivate Middle School Readers

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Melissa Taylor, MA, is the creator of Imagination Soup. She's a mother, former teacher & literacy trainer, and freelance education writer. She writes Imagination Soup and freelances for publications online and in print, including Penguin Random House's Brightly website, USA Today Health, Adobe Education, Colorado Parent, and Parenting. She is passionate about matching kids with books that they'll love.

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Thank you for this list. It is really hard to find lists of books that are truly appropriate for 8th grade. They are usually too young and lumped on a middle school list.

Glad it’s helpful. 🙂

How pop-up bookstore 18 August Ave helps NY families: 'Books are a necessity to learn and grow'

Independent bookstores are the heartbeats of their communities. They provide culture and community, generate local jobs and sales tax revenue, promote literacy and education, champion and center diverse and new authors, connect readers to books in a personal and authentic way, and actively support the right to read and access to books in their communities.

Each week we profile an independent bookstore, sharing what makes each one special and getting their expert and unique book recommendations.

This week we have 18 August Ave in Brooklyn, New York!

What’s your store’s story?

18 August Ave is a children's bookshop for families to find children's necessities, such as diverse books, but also find space to share and learn about health-related resources that speak to their lived experiences.

Check out: USA TODAY's weekly Best-selling Booklist

We have a slogan: "Every child deserves the opportunity to read, play, and thrive," therefore, our bookshop focuses on books, resources, and events that speak to the lived experiences and well-being of BIPOC families.

In 2019, Kenya Kirkman came up with the idea for 18 August Ave as a place for support and learning after the stillbirth of her twin boys. 18 August Ave officially launched as a children's pop-up in January 2023.

What makes your independent bookstore unique?

We're special because we prioritize diverse books that speak to social-emotional learning. We aim to give parents and families health-related resources to support the entire family. Books are a necessity to learn and grow.

We also invest in our community by bringing meaningful and essential events to families. For example, we hosted a Postpartum Event for parents in May 2023. Such events aren't seen in bookstores, but we need to speak to the lived experiences of families patronizing 18 August Ave.

We've had author discussions with authors who have written children's books about grief and sibling loss. We are unique because these stories are essential and powerful. Children and families experience many different things, and what better way for them to learn and grow through these experiences than from a book?

What books/series are you most excited about coming out in the next few months and why?

We are most excited to see the new Spanish children's book coming out in the next few months. We are looking to expand our offering and ensure we are inclusive.

Why is shopping at local, independent bookstores important?

It's important to shop local, independent bookstores because local independent bookstores bring so much richness to the community. Community members run independent bookstores from the community who care about the community. Local bookstores bring new jobs, community events, author visits, and more. Shopping locally is a great way to recirculate revenue in the community.

What are some of your store's events, programs, or partnerships coming up this quarter that you would like to share?

We would love to open up as a brick-and-mortar by the end of this quarter, hopefully by April 2024. Therefore, hopefully, 18 August Ave's Grand Opening!

Check out these children’s books recommended by 18 August Ave:

  • "Lullaby" by Langston Hughes
  • "I am a Bold Asian Boy: A Positive Affirmation Book" by Yobe Qiu
  • "Papá's Magical Water Jug Clock" by Jesus Trejo
  • "Thank You, Omu!" By Oge Mora (really, all things Oge Mora!)

Books on the map: See all the USA TODAY featured independent bookstores

Imagination Soup

80 Best Books for 4th Graders (Age 9)

F ind the best chapter books and  middle grade books  for 4th graders. These books for 9-year-old boys and girls in 4th grade are book recommendations that I’ve personally read and reviewed. They’re in every genre and are about many different themes and topics that appeal to kids in this upper elementary grade. ALL of these books are excellent. 

Who am I to recommend good books to young readers? I’m a former teacher and teacher trainer with a Master’s Degree in Education, a teaching license, a Bachelor’s in English, and a parent of two. I’m also a writer and avid reader. (As you probably can guess.) I read ALL the books and share the best of the best with you.

Fourth graders are leaving chapter books and entering the world of younger  middle grade books . The difference between the two is that  chapter books are usually shorter, illustrated, and about less complex topics.  They will overlap in themes like friendship and family or animals and identity.

However, middle grade books are about twice as long, if not three times longer, and usually don’t have illustrations. (Although you  can  find good  illustrated middle grade books .) The topics will be more complex — about bullying and divorce and death.

SHOP THIS LIST

If you want the BEST BOOKS for 9-year-olds in 4th grade, I’d love to send you a free printable pdf!

You might also like these book lists for 9-year-olds:

  • The best books in a series  for 4th graders
  • Summer reading list for 4th graders
  • Good nonfiction books for 4th graders

If you need harder books, go to my Best Books for 5th Graders.

If you need easier books, go to my Best Books for 3rd Graders .

Also read:  Gifts for 9 Year Old Girls and  Gifts for 9 Year Old Boys

Best Books for 4th Graders (9 Year Olds)

First Cat in Space  by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Shawn Harris 

Absurdly hysterical, this is a bizarrely perfect adventure in  space ! When rats eat a second of the moon, the world’s leaders send their secret weapon– a cat and a stowaway toenail-clipping robot.  The two adventurers meet the Queen of Moonopolis, who leads them beneath the moon’s surface through the mine tunnels where they have more silly adventures until they GET CAPTURED. But, don’t worry — somehow they’ll escape. Right?

Amulet  by Kazu Kibuishi

FANTASY / GRAPHIC NOVEL

This popular graphic novel series is about two siblings trying to save their mom who was taken to an underground world of elves, demons, robots, and talking animals . Beautiful artwork with compelling characters and an adventurous plot make this a sure-fire hit with young readers.

Leeva at Last by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Matthew Cordell

Leeva’s horrible Matilda-like parents ask her sarcastically, What are people for? And Leeva, who isn’t allowed to go to school and does the chores, cooking, and other tasks to help her parents become rich and famous, decides to investigate the question. She discovers the library and books — but more than that, she discovers kind new friends, including the librarian and her grandson and two kids her age. She realizes that people help you not be lonely because they share life with you…and hugs are a nice bonus, too. I love the writing and the message of kindness and good things from books!

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney

One of the most popular book series ever, The Diary of a Wimpy Kid , shares the hilarious story of Greg, in his own words and drawings. Life in middle school is not easy. And Greg is here to prove it! One thing you’ll notice about these books is that kids will read them more than once, which is great if you have them all.

The One and Only Ivan  by Katherine Applegate

Narrated by a gorilla named Ivan, this true story will immediately grab your heartstrings.  Ivan is kept in a cage in a run-down mall for 27 years without seeing another gorilla.  When his maltreated elephant friend dies there, she asks Ivan to help the new, younger elephant find a better life. With the help of the janitor’s daughter, he does just that.

The Last Kids on Earth by Max Brallier, illustrated by Douglas Colgate

SCIENCE FICTION / PARANORMAL

This hilarious book makes the  zombie apocalypse seem fun . Because that’s how Jack approaches life and zombie fights. He and his best friend, Quint, live in an upgraded, well-defended treehouse where they plan for rescuing his crush June (she doesn’t need rescuing being quite capable) and fighting zombies. Illustrations throughout make this even more appealing to read and imagine. Delightful. Who would have thought?! BOXED SET HERE.

I Survived  by Lauren Tarshis

HISTORICAL FICTION

These are excellent, fast-paced adventure books for 4th graders set during significant historical events that are perfect for elementary age kids just getting comfortable with chapter books. Kids will zip through these incredible adventures, learning history in the process. The books always are about a young person trying to survive a historically significant, life-changing event such as Pompeii, the Titanic, Pearl Harbor, or the Battle of Gettysburg.

Things in the Basement by Ben Hatke

ages 8 – 12 (GRAPHIC NOVEL)

This beautifully drawn and narrated clever adventure is set in the world of…the basement. When Milo’s baby sister loses her special pink knit sock, he searches for it in the basement. The basement leads Milo to another basement, and then another basement, and to a whole labyrinth of basement worlds. He befriends a friendly skull named Chuckles, an eyeball creature named Weepie, and a ghost named Belle. Milo uses the sock’s yarn, help from his ghost friend, and his problem-solving skills to rescue his friends from the Gobbler and return home with the pink sock. This is a fantastical, magical journey of friendship, kindness, and secret worlds!

Land of Stories by Chris Colfer

Fairy tales become very real when Alex and Conner (a brother and sister) find themselves transported to the fairy tale world. To get home, they’ll need to find the ingredients for a Wishing Spell. Finding the items will be dangerous, mysterious, and life-changing. All the books in this series are compelling, magical adventures about characters you will ADORE . My kids and I couldn’t put these down.

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

REALISTIC (ish)

Roz is a robot alone on an island with only animals. If she wants to survive, she must figure out how to live in the wild where the animals see her as a monster. That slowly changes when Roz adopts a gosling and makes a nest. It’s a meaningful story of family, love, and community that consistently garners love from teachers and students.

The Sasquatch Escape   by Suzanne Selfors

Ben doesn’t think his summer could be any more boring–until he rescues a baby dragon. He and his new friend, Pearl Petal, learn that the town has a secret veterinarian for… imaginary creatures. That’s when they accidentally let a Sasquatch escape. Whoops. Now the pair must lure the big guy back to the veterinarian. (Which is easier said than done.) This series is a delightful page-turner.

Legends of Lotus Island: The Guardian Test  by Christina Soontornvat, illustrated by Kevin Hong

Plum is thrilled with the opportunity to go to a Guardian school where she hopes she’ll turn into a Guardian to protect the natural world.  At the Academy, she struggles to focus; she worries that she’ll never get her animal bond like the other students. But she learns how to fight, talk to animals, and hopes she can prove herself. Readers will love the cool world-building, the captivating illustrations, and the engaging story!

Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q Raúf

IMMIGRATION

Alexa and her friends learn that the new kid, Ahmed, was in a real war and has been separated from his family. So when Alexa and her friends hear that England is going to shut the borders, they decide they must go to the Queen to help Ahmed be reunited with his family. They go to the palace in person, tangling with the guards, and getting in big trouble but it eventually leads to media attention and a happy solution. 

Bernice Buttman, Model Citizen by Niki Lenz

A genuinely sweet story about a girl who goes from a bully to a trying-to-do-better model citizen that will make you laugh and warm your heart. When Bernice’s mom sends Bernice to live with her nun aunt, it’s a chance for this former bully to reform her mean-spirited ways. And Bernice does it — she makes a friend, becomes nicer, and finds an unexpected home with the nuns. One of my favorites books for 4th graders!

Trapped in a Video Game  by Dustin Brady, illustrated by Brady Jessee

SCIENCE FICTION

Gamers and non-gamers alike who love exciting and dangerous stories won’t want to miss this excellent series . Jesse’s friend gets an early release of a video game — and it sucks in both he and his friend while they’re playing. They’re literally trapped in the video game! Inside the game, they meet a missing classmate who is a grown-up man in the game. Because there’s no way out. Or is there?

Cress Watercress  by Gregory Maguire, illustrated by David Litchfield 

ANIMAL FICTION

After the death of her father, Cress and her family move from their cozy burrow into the Broken Arms oak tree ruled by a cranky Owl with a noisy neighbor squirrel family. There, Cress helps her mom collect moths to pay their rent, leaving her mom time to work and gather ingredients for her sickly brother’s tea. As Cress navigates her new environment, the natural world, and the stories around her, it helps her understand her inner world, especially how grief waxes and wanes like the moon’s cycles.  A beautiful story about family, community, and grief .  

The Magical Reality of Nadia by Bassem Youssef and Catherine R. Daly, illustrated by Douglas Holgate

Nadia unexpectedly discovers an ancient Egyptian teacher (Titi) trapped in her hippo amulet. He comes out onto a paper and TALKS! Tita helps Nadia with problems she faces at school like the new kid who is rude and prejudiced about her Egyptian culture and troubles with her friends who are working together on a school project. Totally wonderful, heartfelt, and relatable– don’t miss this new book for fourth graders.

The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John, illustrated by Kevin Cornell

If you like funny books , you’ll LOVE these books for 4th graders, 9-year-olds! Plus, in this first book, you’ll learn valuable cow trivia. But, it’s mostly the hilarious adventure of two pranksters who start out as rivals but eventually work together to pull off the biggest prank of all time — a prank that will ensure they get April Fool’s Day off from school.

Your Pal Fred by Michael Rex 

SCI-FI / GRAPHIC NOVEL

Fred is a robot who brings kindness (and STICKERS!) to a dystopian world he makes better in this funny, warmhearted, and interesting story.  When Fred discovers that two warlords are capturing innocent people to fight as soldiers for them, Fred knows what he has to do–ask the two bad guys to try peace. He irritates and surprises everyone he meets with his cheerfulness and positive attitude, even when he’s caught and “tortured” with drumming, which, of course, he loves. His character oozes charm, you can’t help but love him–along with the other curious characters that he meets.

Dungeoneer Adventures  by Ben Costa, illustrated by James Parks

FANTASY /  ILLUSTRATED

Coop is the only human at the Dungeoneer Academy. He feels alone and fears failure but it’s his lifelong dream to be an explorer. Luckily, his best friend Oggie (a bugbear) and two other new friends on his team stick together to survive the bullying Coop faces at school and the life-or-death jungle trial in which they experience trouble with their team, unexpected attacks, and a monster spider. The stakes are high–if they fail the trial, they’ll be kicked out of the school forever.  It’s a fun-to-read, illustrated, and fast-paced fantastical book for 4th graders!

Allergic by Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter

A well-done middle-grade graphic novel about a child with allergies! Maggie is devastated that she’s allergic to the puppy she’s finally allowed to get. But, she befriends a new girl next door who becomes a fun, safe solace in her life…until that friend gets a puppy which Maggie interprets this her new friend not wanting to be friends anymore. Eventually, the two friends work out a solution for hanging out that won’t be a problem for Maggie’s allergies. The story ends with Maggie helping with her new baby sister and feeling like she doesn’t need an animal pet anymore.

Mythics: Marina and the Kraken written by Lauren Magaziner, illustrated by Mirelle Ortega

What an exciting start to what is sure to be a smash-hit series of adventure, girl power, and mythical creatures ! When Marina doesn’t get matched with a familiar like the other kids, she and four other 10-year-old girls discover their familiars aren’t everyday animals but mythical creatures and together, they’re destined to save Terrafamiliar. The girls start their search by boat to look for Marian’s familiar. But they’re chased by a golden jumpsuit lady who wants to steal their mythical powers. As they evade their pursuer, Marina discovers that her familiar is a kraken– a kraken who accidentally capsizes their ship. Now she and her kraken must save her friends from drowning and escape the sinister lady.

Elements of Genius: Nikki Tesla and the Ferret-Proof Death Ray by Jess Keating

ADVENTURE — STEM

Inventor Nikki Tesla joins a new school called the Genius Academy where she’s not the only genius and she’s supposed to start working well with others. (That will be hard!) When Nikki’s death ray is stolen from a locked safe, she and her classmates must collaborate to find it and hopefully, save the world. They follow clues around the world, thwart plots to divide their group, and capture the bad guy before he can use the death ray. Not only does this engrossing story feature smart kids who love STEM but the action and themes of friendship and growing up resonated and entertained me.

Indian No More by Charlene Willing McManis and Traci Sorell

Indian No More is an emotional, important story about when the U.S. government arbitrarily made certain Native American tribes no longer tribes without reservations or legal rights. It also shows the historical landscape of prejudice and stereotypes towards people of color. I love the close-knit, loving family based on the author’s own life, a family who values each other and their survival. This book is a must-read and must-own for all schools and libraries and would make an excellent book club selection.

Kristy’s Great Idea Babysitter’s Club  Full-Color Graphix Novel by Ann M. Martin, illustrated by Raina Telgemeier

We’re loving these updated Babysitter’s Club graphic novels by the uber-talented Raina Telegemeier. It’s a good idea to start with book 1 since the stories are told in sequential order. These are funny and fun to read, maybe even more than once. BOX SET HERE.

Sparks  by Ian Boothby, illustrated by Nina Matsumoto

After escaping the evil laboratory, cats August and Charlie help others in a “Super Dog” dog disguise.  But their evil scientist nemesis, a diaper-wearing baby named Princess, will stop at nothing to recapture the escaped cats…and conquer the entire world. These books for 4th graders are filled with adventure, friendship, and humor!

Once Upon a Tim  by Stuart Gibbs

Hilarious, illustrated, and perfect for fantasy and adventure fans!  Tim and his sister Belinda are peasants who hope to improve their lot in life so they sign up as knights for a not-very-brave prince and his so-called magician sidekick to find and rescue Princess Grace from a monster. Helpful foreshadowing, a strong narrative voice, and humor throughout plus helpful life lessons from Belinda about the patriarchy and great vocabulary words (which are helpfully indicated so your parents will know the IQ benefits).

Chupacarter  by George Lopez and Ryan Calejo 

Fast-paced, exciting, well-written, and dynamically illustrated about friendship and monsters!  Jorge gets sent to New Mexico to live with his abuelos but he is miserable. Bullied at his school by other kids and a mean big-game-hunting principal, Jorge unexpectedly makes a friend outside of school –with a  chupacabra  named Carter.But Carter ISN’T a monster and they have a lot in common like candy and climbing trees and playing hide-and-seek. Even still, Carter needs to reunite with his family especially because Jorge’s school principal is hunting him. Jorge and his two school friends come up with an ingenious plan to get Carter to safety–but will they be too late? 

Bad Kitty Supercat  by Nick Bruel 

HUMOR  GRAPHIC NOVEL

Bad Kitty’s owner tells Bad Kitty to get off screens and play with some other cats.  But Bad Kitty isn’t happy about having playdates. Eventually, Playdate Candidate #4 (Strange Kitty) brings imagination and comic books and Strange Kitty helps Bad Kitty find his  superhero  persona –just in time to meet the supervillain! Playful, imaginative, and hilarious–this is my new favorite Bad Kitty book and his first graphic novel.

Olga and the Smelly Thing From Nowhere  by Elise Gravel

If you LOVE kooky books, this book fits the bill.   Olga finds a most unusual, unknown creature whom she names “MEH” after the sound it makes.  She uses her deductive reasoning to figure out what it is (something new!) and what it likes to eat (olives)! But what will she do when Meh disappears? Things I love about this book: 1) the illustrations — they rock! 2) the narrator’s voice — it’s believable and funny 3) the plot — especially the mean girls who aren’t so mean after all.

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Skottie Young

If you like quirky humor, then this is your perfect book. Because you will never believe, except you totally will, what happens when the kids’ father goes out to get more milk. He doesn’t even get the milk but he does run into pirates, aliens, and all sorts of incredible things! Totally hilarious and quite short–which is appealing to many readers.

Pie in the Sky  by Remy Lai

REALISTIC /  IMMIGRATION

Pie in the Sky is an insightful, funny, and poignant look at the struggles of immigrating to a new country (Australia) and the difficulties of learning English along with growing up and grieving the loss of a father. He misses baking with his papa so after school with his brother,  he breaks his mom’s rules against using the kitchen and bakes the cakes  that his father wanted to include in his dream Pie in the Sky bakery.  Like Jingwen says about his new beginnings and sad losses, this is a story that is both salty and sweet.

Bob  by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead

MAGICAL REALISM

In the sweetest story of friendship,   10-year-old Livy meets Bob, a green zombie-looking monster wearing a chicken costume  living in the closet at her grandma’s house. He’s been waiting for her to return for the last 5 years. Only Livy can’t remember him at all. Even when she leaves the house for an errand, she forgets. But she’s determined to help Bob find his way back home. Wherever that may be. We love this story!! This is a great  family   read-aloud  choice!

It’s the End of the World and I’m in My Bathing Suit  by Justin A. Reynolds

When he’s forced to stay home from the beach party because he needs to do his laundry since every single stinky piece of clothing, is dirty, Eddie hurries through the washing with quick cycles–until the power unexpectedly goes out.  Eddie leaves the house to investigate and finds four other kids but NO ONE ELSE. No parents. No kids. NO ONE.  It’s all very mysterious and suspenseful, especially when the street lights turn back on — without the electricity coming back on. What is going on? Cliff hanger alert!

Crabgrass Comic Adventures  by Tauhid Bondia 

FUNNY   /  GRAPHIC NOVEL

You will LOVE the  friendship adventures of Kevin and Miles.  These stories are fun, hilarious, relatable, and entertaining. If you like Calvin and Hobbes, you’ll love this good book for 4th graders.

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

Forced to flee a dangerous situation in Mexico, Esperanza and her mother arrive in California and start working as migrant farm workers. The back-breaking work is only part of their new, challenging life. In this beautifully written, soulful novel, Esperanza learns to thrive no matter what her circumstances.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan

This series is amazing! Greek gods still exist and so do their kids, demigods, who have incredible abilities. Unfortunately for these kids, monsters are out to kill them. But, they are also the only ones who can save the world from a war between the Greek gods the Titans. Percy goes to Camp Half-Blood where he gets trained to protect himself… that is until he’s sent on a dangerous quest. Betrayal, adventure, plot twists, and incredible mythological world-building make these stories that kids can’t put down.

Dragon Slippers  trilogy by Jessica Day George

We can’t recommend this book series enough! Young and brave Creel wants nothing more than to own her own seamstress shop. In her pursuit of this dream, she befriends a special dragon who, along with magical dragon slippers, changes her life.

Who Would Win? Whale vs. Giant Squid by Jerry Pallotta, illustrated by Rob Bolster

Kids can’t get enough of the Who Would Win? books that pit two ocean carnivores against each other. In this book, read facts about each creature then compare with a face-off. See if you can you predict who will win! See all the addicting informational books in the Who Would Win series .

Big Nate Welcome to My World   by Lincoln Peirce

GRAPHIC NOVELS / FUNNY BOOKS

I think the Big Nate comics are even better than the novels — they are just so stinking funny! Lincoln Peirce “gets” kids and their struggles — the episodes will keep both you and your kids cracking up.

Phoebe and Her Unicorn: A Heavenly Nostrils Chronicle by Dana Simpson

FUNNY / GRAPHIC NOVELS

Sarcastic and hilarious, this is a laugh-out-loud story about a precocious young girl and her reluctant unicorn “best friend”. BOXED SET

Tuesdays at the Castle  by Jessica Day George

FANTASY BOOKS

Every Tuesday, the castle where Princess Celie and her family live, adds on a new room, or turret, or wing. Celie loves her castle and it’s living ways. So, when robbers attack her parents’ carriage, and they are never seen again, Celie takes comfort that their room is exactly the same, hoping the castle knows they are still alive. But can the castle and Celie stop the Royal Council and the foreign prince from taking over the kingdom? We LOVE this series!

Dying to Meet You 43 Cemetary Road by Kate Klise, illustrated by M. Sarah Klise

The 43 Old Cemetery Road books are funny and punny adventures with a kid, a cat, a grumpy ghost, and a really cool writing style in letters, emails, newspaper clippings, jokes, and more. These books are addictive!

Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo

Quirky and delightful, this is the tale of a girl named Flora who rescues a squirrel and keeps it as a friend . Together they experience the world in a unique, funny, and wonderful way, and straighten it out, too — especially Flora’s mother.

Restart  by Gordon Korman

Chase has no memory of who he is or was.  But he starts to get clues when straight out of the hospital when a strange girl dumps ice cream on his head. Chase soon realizes that he doesn’t like his former self. Now he’ll have to decide what kind of person he wants to be. Because he’s enjoying his new life in the film club and the new (“nerdy”) friends he’s made. This thought-provoking book for 4th grade will challenge kids to consider their choices, behavior, and life goals.

The Sheep, the Rooster, and the Duck by Matt Phelan

In this illustrated historical adventure, Benjamin Franklin’s young assistant Emile teams up with a sheep, a rooster, a duck, and a girl his age to thwart a dastardly villain and a sinister secret society who want to use one of Franklin’s inventions for nefarious purposes.

Killer Species  by Michael P. Spradlin

ADVENTURE (SCI-FI)

Get ready for a fast-paced adventure series about a mad scientist who creates a hybrid crocodile-dinosaur-bird killer creature to stop visitors from entering the Everglades. Emmet and his father arrive to investigate but when his father is kidnapped, Emmet and his friend, Calvin, know it’s up to them to find where the kidnapper is holding Emmet’s father. GREAT for reluctant readers — and anyone who loves an action-packed sci-fi mystery!

Garvey’s Choice: The Graphic Novel written by Nikki Grimes, art by Theodore Taylor III

Garvey’s dad wants him to play sports instead of reading. Making life even worse, everyone seems to make fun of Garvey’s size, calling him names like chunky and little piggy. Then, a new foodie friend helps Garvey enjoy food and not feel guilty about eating. That same friend also encourages Garvey to join the chorus, which he does secretly and loves it. Singing makes Garvey feel more like himself. This sweet coming-of-age story is written in tanka poetry, so it reads like a graphic novel in verse with some dialogue. It’s fast, mesmerizing, and emotion-filled.

Harry Potter series  by J.K. Rowling

The best selling children’s books of all time, this is a MUST READ for many reasons: the brilliant storytelling, a complex and entertaining plot, relatable characters, rich language, essential life lessons about friendship and bravery , and more. ( See all my reasons for reading Harry Potter. )

Wallace the Brave by Will Henry

HUMOR / GRAPHIC NOVEL

If you like the humor in Calvin and Hobbes, you must read Wallace the Brave . It’s hilarious. You’ll laugh your way through stories of Wallace’s life on the school bus, on the playground, playing with friends, hanging with his fisherman dad, and more. I’m smiling just writing this as I think back on his antics and adventures that cracked me up.

The Great Shelby Holmes   by Elizabeth Eulberg

What a lovely surprise! This  Sherlock Holmes  inspired book for 4th graders is well-written with a great plot. John Watson moves with his mom who has recently left both the military and John’s dad to Harlem. There he meets a very unique girl named Shelby Holmes who reluctantly allows him to tag along with her as she solves her latest crime —  the mystery of a missing show-dog stolen from a classmate’s secure house.

Area 51 Files  by Julie Buxbaum, illustrated by Lavanya Naidu

Sky moves to Area 51, a sanctuary for aliens, where her new guardian, her uncle. She’s sad that she can’t ever leave Area 51 or see her beloved grandma again but she makes friend with an alien boy at school. When a group of aliens is abducted, all clues point to Sky’s uncle. She and her friends try to solve who the culprit really is.  It’s a funny mystery, adventure, and friendship story with aliens and illustrations!

Belly Up by Stuart Gibbs

MYSTERY / FUNNY BOOK (series)

Was the FunJungle’s hippo murdered? Teddy and Summer think so. Mystery, adventure, and humor will keep your readers on the edge of their seats in this unique story with lovable, quirky characters.

Ride On by Faith Erin Hicks

REALISTIC / GRAPHIC NOVEL

Norrie loves horses and the low-key stables where she works and rides. She welcomes the new girl, Victoria, who rejects her offer of friendship because Victoria has decided that no friends means no drama. But another friend at the stables connects to Victoria about their friend group with a favorite science fiction show. They find common ground, forgiveness, and mutual support. It’s a beautifully knit-together, relatable story of friendship, horses, being yourself, and growing in confidence.

The Familiars  series by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson

My kids and I are big fans of this fantasy series. Do you know about familiars? They are the magical animal companions to wizards. And in this first story, the kids and their familiars must save the world when the wizards’ powers are taken away.  Great books for 4th graders who love animals and magical adventures.

Two-Headed Chicken  by Tom Angleberger 

Hilarious!!  If you like wacky, bizarre humor then this is your next favorite read.  This is a story about the multiverse in which you are a two-headed chicken being chased by a moose…and it’s laugh-out-loud funny. Follow the two-headed chicken through the multiverse, take funny quizzes, meet a fish with deep feelings as well as a lawyer, and learn about so much more! 

Rez Dogs  by Joseph Bruchac 

REALISTIC /  VERSE

Because of the pandemic, Malin is sent away to live with her grandparents on the Wabanaki reservation.  A rez dog named Malsum adopts her, becoming her ally and friend, which helps her adjust to living without her parents.  Her grandparents teach Malin about the history of Native kids taken away by the government. Her grandparents share many other stories of their beliefs and history which help Malin connect to her heritage. 

Nick and Tesla’s High-Voltage Danger Lab  by Science Bob Pflugfleder and Steve Hockensmith

SCI-FI /  MYSTERY BOOK

Siblings Nick and Tesla are shipped off to live with their mad-scientist Uncle Newt for the summer while their parents are . . . doing something with soybeans in Uzbekistan? When left to fend for themselves, the siblings discover something very suspicious at the old mansion down the street. Throughout the story, these STEM wizards invent gadgets and gizmos and give you directions to do the same.  This adventurous STEM series makes science and technology fun!

Voyage of the Frostheart  by Jamie Littler

BEST FANTASY BOOKS

A   fantastic, illustrated adventure book for 4th grade about an orphan boy with forbidden musical powers.  4th-grade readers meet sentient creatures like the vulpi, a walrus and a yeti, not just human-kin, who live in Strongholds to stay safe from the monstrous Lurkers and Leviathans. After Ash’s Pathfinder parents disappear, Ash moves in with a strict guardian Yeti named Tobu. Unfortunately, they’re banished from their home when Ash uses his forbidden Song Weaver magic. They leave the village with a Pathfinder crew and Ash realizes that he can find his parents using the words in his childhood lullaby. 

The Pear Affair  by Judith Eagle, illustrated by Jo Rioux

Nell can’t wait to tag along with her horrid and neglectful parents to Paris so she can search for her beloved former nanny Pear who she’s convinced is missing since Pear hasn’t written in months. While in Paris, Nell learns about the strange moldy bread problem plaguing the city’s bakeries. She meets new friends who guide her around the underground tunnels of Paris. They help her find Nell and uncover the truth about her parents and their connection to the moldy bread.  A page-turning mystery with a perfect ending!

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Charlie is one of the five winning children allowed to tour Willy Wonka’s famous chocolate factory. But it’s a tour unlike any other and the other not-too-nice-kids kids strangely disappear throughout. Funny and quirky , this book remains a classic for a good reason.

Anyone But Ivy Pocket  by Caleb Krisp

You are going to ADORE Ivy and this story entirely. Ivy’s totally clueless and so very quirky. Who else would say this to her future employer, the Duchess: “ You poor deluded creature . . . dying has sapped the strength from your eyes. I’m remarkably pretty, and that’s a genuine fact. ” I read many parts out loud to my kids while I was reading this book – they were just so funny!! Now my kids are addicted, too. Ivy’s adventures involve a sinister ghost, a mystical jewel, and a surprising destiny.

Wild Survival: Crocodile Rescue! by Melissa Cristina Marquez

#OWNVOICES / ADVENTURE / ANIMAL RESCUE

Adrianna’s parents have an animal sanctuary and host an animal rescue that is moving from YouTube to television. On this trip, which is being filmed for the new show, the family goes to the mangrove forest of Cuba to help an injured crocodile. (The book is interspersed with factual information about all the wildlife they encounter!) Andriana messes up and gets grounded but besides saving a dog, she realizes something the grown-ups missed– that the rescued crocodile had a nest of eggs. She convinces her brother to help her save the eggs but they have a very close call with poachers, adding in suspense and a touch of danger. Engaging and interesting!

The Zombie Chasers  by John Kloepfer and Steve Wolfhard

Filled with cartoon illustrations, this early chapter book series highlights the bravery of a group of friends (and siblings) who will save the world from zombies . A fun kid-powered adventure with zombies.

Charlotte Spies for Justice A Civil War Survival Story (Girls Survive) by Nikki Shannon Smith

Based on the true story of a courageous female spy in the South during the Civil War.  Charlotte is a servant girl in Elizabeth Van Lew’s house, who becomes a spy for the Union. Readable, compelling, and interesting.

Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja  by Marcus Emerson

I thought this was not just a great story but I loved tha t the main character (the ninja) is a girl. The story is easily read, written in a combo of text and comics. Great books for 4th graders!

Miles Morales  by Jason Reynolds

Miles’s spidey sense is whacking out when he’s at school, especially in his history class. Add to that, he’s worried he will turn out like his criminal uncle. So, Miles, who is Puerto-Rican and African American, stops being Spider-Man. Until he discovers a chilling plot of men named Chamberlain who work under the control of The Warden.  Now, he must use all his skills to save the world from a racist threat. You’ll love the diversity, the two-parent family, and the complexity of Mile’s character– this is a GREAT book.

Rapunzel’s Revenge  by Shannon Hale & Dale Hale

One of my favorite books EVER! This Rapunzel story is set in the wild west — she uses her braids to lasso bad guys while searching for her mother with her sidekick Jack.

Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley

GRAPHIC NOVEL / SLICE OF LIFE / DIVORCE

After her parents’ divorce, Jen moves to a farm with her mom and her mom’s boyfriend whose kids visit on the weekends. It’s a huge transition — she doesn’t love how bossy and whiney her stepsisters are and how annoying her mom’s boyfriend is. But she loves the chicks she takes care of and the farmer’s market.  Well, she loves it until her math skills aren’t good enough to be helpful. This story gently shows the ups and downs of living with a new family in a new place.

Diary of an 8-Bit Warrior by Cube Kid, illustrated by Saboten

ADVENTURE / SCI-FI

Runt is a 12-year old with real problems. He doesn’t want to be a typical villager with the typical boring life. He wants to be a warrior like Steve. So he’s excited when his school finally agrees that the villagers might need warriors to fight back against the nightly attacks. When Steve loses everything and moves in with Runt’s family, Runt hopes that Steve will help with his warrior training. Runt’s a relatable, mostly serious, character who just wants a different life — like most kids his age and is competing for a dream opportunity. BOXED SET

Dragon Vs. Unicorns: Kate the Chemist by Dr. Kate Biberdorf with Hillary Homzie

Exciting from the first page (a fire breathing science experiment!!), these awesome new STEM chapter books for 4th graders are hard to put down. There are many things happening in Kate’s busy life every day but no matter if she’s dealing with science, the school play, or friends, she’s a determined problem solver. When she tries to figure out who is sabotaging the school musical, it’s going to take all her skills to find the culprit.

Timmy Failure  by Stephan Pastis

Timmy is a clueless detective with a polar bear sidekick. Their adventures will make you laugh out loud!

The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom  by Christopher Healy, illustrated by Todd Harris

FANTASY / HUMOR

The princes in the fairy tales aren’t as famous as their princesses but in this story, it’s all about them! Kicked out of their castles, these princes turn from bumbling idiots into heroes and save their kingdoms with hilarity and adventure!

Hero Rescue Mission by Jennifer Li Shotz

In this Hero story, Ben’s dad is captured by escaped convicts. Ben and police dog, Hero, set off to find Ben’s dad. Ben’s already injured and Hero’s too emotional to track the scent so they’re going to need help if they’re going to find his dad. Action from the first page to the last. Kids who love adventure and animals will love these books for 4th graders.

Gold Rush Girl by Avi

14-year-old Victoria sneaks aboard a ship with her father and younger brother bound for stinky, muddy San Francisco and the hope of gold. She’s surrounded by mostly men and no other kids and soon realizes that no one is getting rich but ships and people keep pouring in. Their dad leaves them in a tent for months while he searches for gold. Victoria makes the best of it but her 10-year-old brother doesn’t. Then he gets kidnapped and sold and Victoria and two friends race to rescue him. It’s an interesting, exciting story that gives readers a strong sense of setting and historical perspective.

Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake

If you like sweet stories of friendship, you won’t want to miss this new story. Prickly Badger’s life and rock studies are the most (and only) important thing in his life. Unexpectedly, he’s rudely interrupted by a new roommate, the helpful, philosophical, and curious chicken-loving Skunk. Badger wants Skunk to leave but he’s surprised when he enjoys Sunk’s cooking and company. Then after a spray incident and cruel comments he regrets, Badger fixes his mistake the two friends find that they’re better off together.

Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe

You will love this captivating main character an apprentice witch who struggles with insecurity, bullying, and self-doubt. She doesn’t have a lot of magic but does have strength, even if she needs a few reminders about it. She will be able to help her city even with semi-magical skills. A sweet, magical story.

Lunch Lady  by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

If you haven’t read these addictive and hilarious graphic novels, they are a must — anyone who has eaten lunch in school will appreciate the humor, even parents love these books.

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia

Clayton feels happiest with his grandfather, playing the blues.  Unfortunately, his mom hates everything about the blues because it represents her father’s abandonment of the family. When Clayton’s beloved grandfather dies and his mom takes his harmonica, Clayton ditches school to find his grandfather’s old band. Instead of musicians, he encounters a gang of boys and gets picked up by the police. This is a superbly crafted chapter book for 4th graders is about grief, family, and forgiveness.

Secret Coders: Get with the Program  by  Gene Luen Yang  and Mike Holmes

SCI-FI GRAPHIC NOVEL

What’s happening at Hopper’s new school? She and her friends discover something very amazing about the birds — they’re robotic and can be controlled by numbers. Which leads the kids to go up against the scheming, evil janitor.  Readers learn some basics of how to use the programming language Logo with sequence, iteration, and selection, and must apply their knowledge to help the characters. I love the interactivity, the diverse main characters, and the progressive way the authors teach the logical thinking of programming. Very well-done!

Aleca Zamm Is a Wonder by Ginger Rue, illustrated by Zoe Persico

I enjoyed this well-written, fast-paced adventure book, new chapter books for 4th graders. On her 10th birthday, Aleca accidentally discovers if she says her full name, she can STOP TIME. Which helps her on her math test. Then her Aunt Zephyr arrives and explains a few things about being a Wonder. One, other Wonders who aren’t very nice could use those time stops to find Aleca. And two, she needs to learn how to control her power so it won’t control her. And three, a 10-year old shouldn’t be in charge of the world clock.

Kiki’s Delivery Service by Eiko Kadono, illustrated by Emily Balistrieri

As a huge fan of the movie, I was so impressed at how true to the original book, the film stayed. This sweet story is about a 13-year-old half-witch named Kiki who leaves home for her year-long apprenticeship to a town. She flies with her cat and they find a seaside town that needs a witch. There, Kiki settles above a bakery and uses her wits and magic to endear herself to the town as a helpful delivery girl. Lovely, lovely, lovely!

The Supervillain’s Guide to Being a Fat Kid by Matt Wallace

COMING OF AGE / BULLYING

An outstanding, surprisingly philosophical, poignant story about dealing with bullies, growing in confidence, and the complexities of human beings. Matt doesn’t think he can survive 3 more years of middle school bullying so he writes supervillain Master Plan who is also a “gentleman of size”, asking for help. Surprisingly, Master Plan emails back with helpful, sage advice but is Master Plan actually looking out for Max or for himself?

Magical Land of Birthdays by Amirah Kassem

Amirah lives in Mexico and loves cooking and baking. When her neighbor gives her an old cookbook titled The Power of Sprinkles , Amirah knows it’s the perfect cookbook for her upcoming birthday cake. Strangely, the cookbook transports her to the Magical Land of Birthdays where she meets other kids with her exact same birthdate as her who are from different areas of the world. Together they have an exciting, magical adventure that includes finding a missing B-Bud girl, parties, unicorns, and of course, cake.

Rosetown by Cynthia Rylant

REALISTIC / WHOLESOME

This is an atmospheric, small-town slice-of-life story that takes place in Rosetown, Indiana. A big part of 4th grader Flora’s life is her friendship with Yury and reading in the used bookstore where her mom works. Flora’s struggling to adjust to her parents’ separation and two different homes. No matter where she goes, she brings her cat, Serenity. Flora does things like take piano lessons and help Yury with his dog training classes. The story ends with Flora’s parents working things out and starting their own business together.

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The post 80 Best Books for 4th Graders (Age 9) first appeared on Imagination Soup .

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80 Best Books for 4th Graders (Age 9)

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  1. 60 Best Books for 8th Graders

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    Moonshot is Brian Floca's retelling of the Apollo 11 moon landing in picture book form. Floca is well-known for creating picture books about the machines that humans take journeys in, and as with his other works, this one is marvelous. 9. Al Capone Does My Shirts.

  5. 83 Brilliant Books For 8th Grade Readers

    For your eighth-grade readers who love stories that pull on the heartstrings, I'll Give You the Sun is a humorous yet tear-jerking read. It follows the tale of two twins, Jude and Noah, who were once extremely close, but who have now been torn apart because of an unsuspected disaster. 15. Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt.

  6. 8th grade reading books for children aged 13-14

    Grade 8 books - this list of suggested reading books has been carefully selected by educators and librarians for junior high and middle school students aged 13-14. There is a range of exciting and thought-provoking books to suit all abilities in the 8th grade and over the course of a year, these titles should inspire both those who are reluctant to read, and also challenge high achieving pupils.

  7. The Best Children's Books of 2023

    37. Timo Lenzen. By Jennifer Krauss. Jennifer Krauss is the children's books editor at the Book Review. Dec. 8, 2023. PICTURE BOOKS. "An American Story," by Kwame Alexander. Illustrated by ...

  8. 10 Best Books for 8th Graders

    This is book 1 of 8 in a science fiction series. The 8th was just published in September 2022. This is My America by Kimberly Jones. Tracy has watched the clock tick down on her father's time on death row for a crime he didn't commit. She writes to law firms who help in similar situations.

  9. The best books for 8th graders (picked by 9,000+ authors)

    Meet our 1,507 experts. Justin Doyle Author. Liza Wiemer Author. Diana Renn Author. +1,501. 1,507 authors created a book list with books for 8th graders, and here are their favorite books. Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books through our website, we may earn an affiliate commission. Please help us make book discovery magical and ...

  10. The 100 Best Books for 8th Grade

    8th Grade Books. Load more. #2: The Diary of a Young Girl #3: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings #4: Farewell to Manzanar #5: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time #6: Old School.

  11. Best Books That 8th Graders Should Read

    The recommended books on this 8th-grade summer reading list offer diverse genres and themes, allowing students to explore new perspectives and ideas. Whether it's a contemporary realistic fiction, a fantasy adventure, or a historical novel, each book can potentially leave a lasting impact on young readers.

  12. Best book series for 8th graders

    Beautiful Creatures series. by: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl - (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010) 592 pages. The hook: When Lena moves to his small Southern town, Ethan realizes that this mysterious, outcast girl has been the subject of his dreams for months. Irresistibly drawn to Lena, Ethan discovers that the two are psychically ...

  13. Best Books for Eighth Grade (57 books)

    Clear rating. 1 of 5 stars 2 of 5 stars 3 of 5 stars 4 of 5 stars 5 of 5 stars. 4. Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2) by. Suzanne Collins. 4.33 avg rating — 3,524,266 ratings. score: 360 , and 4 people voted. Want to Read.

  14. 6th

    6th - 8th Grade Favorites 2023. 6th to 8th Grade book recommendations for kids, educators, booksellers, librarians, and caregivers of the best children's books in 2022. 1-2-3 Scream! By: R. U. Ginns. Illustrated by: Javier Espila. ISBN: 9780593374078. Fiction, 7-12, Mystery / Thriller . 12 to 22. By: Jen Calonita.

  15. The 57 Best Chapter Books For 8th Graders To Read (In 2022)

    1. I'll Give You The Sun. First on our book list for 8th grade is the Pritz Award and Stonewall Honor Book award winner. "I'll Give You the Sun" by Jandy Nelson. This modern classic is one of our favorite coming-of-age stories, and it'll make eighth-graders and adult readers laugh and cry.

  16. Find Your Next Favorite Book

    See the full list of our latest recommended new books. New in Paperback. Tinier, but just as mighty. ... The Best Books of 2023. ... This comedic story for middle-grade readers is narrated by a ...

  17. The Best Books for 8th Graders: Fall 2023

    A new school year brings me new 8th graders who have reading interests unique to them. During the first quarter of this school year my students have loved so many books. Some books introduced them to new authors and new genres. ... Best Books For 8th Graders, According to 8th Graders Best Novel in Verse: The Canyon's Edge by Dusti Bowling.

  18. 50+ Newbery Award-Winning Books and Why Your Kid Should Read Them

    New Kid is the first-ever graphic novel to receive the Newbery Medal! 2019 - Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina Merci Suarez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, Merci has never been like the other kids at her private school in Florida, because she and her older brother, Roli ...

  19. The Best Nonfiction Books for 8th Graders (13-Year-Olds)

    Sara Saedi books is one of the best books for 8th graders to read about the immigrant experience. Americanized: Rebel Without a Green Card. Saedi, Sara (Author) English (Publication Language) 304 Pages - 03/26/2019 (Publication Date) - Ember (Publisher) Check Price on Amazon. Last update: 2024-02-11.

  20. 31 Thrilling Historical Fiction Books For 8th Graders (Age 13)

    Overview Of The 31 Thrilling Historical Fiction Books For 8th Graders. Fever 1793. Across Five Aprils. The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch. I Know an Old Lady. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. Woods Runner. Tex.

  21. Children's and teens roundup

    The latest in this riotously silly picture-book series continues to delight. ... and a new four-footed addition. ... £10.99 At the start of seventh grade Tuva's friends are suddenly different ...

  22. 21 Read Aloud Books for 7th and 8th Grade

    The Prisoner of Cell 25 (Michael Vey #1) by Richard Paul Evans. SCI-FI. Kids love this YA book series about a boy with electrical powers and an evil group who wants to control him and the others like him. This is a good read aloud book choice if you're wanting to get 7th and 8th grade readers hooked on a new series.

  23. Lizzie Morse on Instagram: " ︎ ︎ ︎ ︎ ︎ ︎ ︎ . . . So many new friends

    1,006 likes, 46 comments - lizzies.reading.recs on January 18, 2024: " ︎ ︎ ︎ ︎ ︎ ︎ ︎ . . . So many new friends and my book releasin..."

  24. How pop-up bookstore 18 August Ave helps NY families: 'Books are a

    18 August Ave prioritizes diverse books that speak to social-emotional learning so parents and families can find support for the entire family. Best movies of 2023 🍿 How he writes From 'Beef ...

  25. 80 Best Books for 4th Graders (Age 9)

    Find the best chapter books and middle grade books for 4th graders. These books for 9-year-old boys and girls in 4th grade are book recommendations that I've personally read and reviewed. They ...