Buy the Best Books for 8-Year-Olds: Our Top Recommendations


Are you buying books for your 8-year-old but feeling a little lost? Do you want to make sure that what your child reads is good for them?

At 8 years old, children are impressionable, and the books you give them could influence their attitude towards reading forever. Give them a head start by buying the best books for 8-year-olds.

Here’s everything you need to know, and my top recommendations.

Reading Milestones for 8-Year-Olds

Although children progress at different rates, there are developmental norms they should achieve each year. Reading and literacy have their own set of milestones. For 8-year-olds they are (1):

  • Reading independently: This includes longer novels with less illustrative content.
  • Reading out loud: With appropriate expressions and tones.
  • Understanding paragraphs: 8-year-olds should be able to make sense of formatting and punctuation in text.
  • Referencing: Capable of deciphering what they don’t understand by referencing it to pictures or context.
  • Comprehension: Including summarizing what they’ve read, and understanding texts as a whole.

An 8-year-old should also recognize the humor in what they read, and have a wider vocabulary. They should understand that words don’t always sound the way they’re written, and have a good understanding of phonics and spelling.

The Best Books for 8-Year-Olds of 2020

Finding books that are enough to keep 8-year-olds interested without straying beyond what is age appropriate can be a challenge. I’ve narrowed it down to the 10 best I could find. You’ll find a mix of engaging picture books and captivating chapter books. Without further ado…

1. Dragons in a Bag

Saving Baby Dragons

Dragons in a Bag
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Jaxon has to help his grandmother deliver baby dragons into a safe magical place. He just can’t let them out of the bag or feed them anything sweet. When Jaxon and his friends lose the dragons, hijinks ensue.

If your child enjoys books about time travel, talking animals, magic, and a diverse urban setting, they will love this book. Kids at this age enjoy the continuity of series, so how perfect that this book is the first in a series? You’ll be running to buy the next book before you know it!

2. The Pink Umbrella

A Sweet Story

The Pink Umbrella
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No, eight-year-olds are not too old for picture books, and this one is proof! The Pink Umbrella follows a shop owner who begins to feel blue when the weather turns gray and rainy. But she’s intrigued when someone leaves her a bright pink umbrella. Who could it be?

With stunning French countryside scenery, and gorgeous illustrations, this sweet story will leave your kids turning the pages. This picture book is perfect for older audiences, as it contains more text per page than your basic picture book (and more pages too). The ending will bring a smile to your face — my nieces and nephews can’t get enough of it!

3. Jabari Jumps

Facing Fears

Jabari Jumps
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Does your kid love swimming? Is there anything they’re afraid to do? For Jabari, it’s jumping off the diving board. Even though he’s finished his swimming lessons, he’s still intimidated by the big jump. Will he do it?

Follow Jabari and his family on a warm summer day as Jabari faces his fears. Your kids will be cheering for him at the end of this picture book.

4. 5,000 Awesome Facts (About Everything)

Smarty Pants

5,000 Awesome Facts (About Everything!) (National Geographic Kids)
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Taking a break from imagination, this much-loved National Geographic book of facts will give your child a brain boost. They’ll learn about everything under the sun, from peanut butter to sharks to world history.

The photographs will catch your child’s eye, and since it’s not a novel, they can return to the joy of this again and again — learning something new each time. They’ll be eager to share the facts with you, so you’ll grow smarter too.

5. Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business

Plenty of Heart

Mindy Kim and the Yummy Seaweed Business (1)
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Young Mindy and her dad have moved to a new town, and she’s nervous about a new school and making new friends. At lunch, her schoolmates discover that her Korean snacks are different from anything they know — and they taste good too! So Mindy starts selling seaweed snacks at school.

This lovely chapter book (first in a series) highlights cultural diversity, focuses on a protagonist dealing with the death of her mom, and living in a single parent home. Yet, Mindy is a clever, sweet character. Your kids will love her.

6. Mercy Watson to the Rescue

A pet pig who saves the day — what’s not to love? The Mercy Watson series are well-loved, and for good reason. Mercy is an endearing character, and your kids will enjoy the humor and heart in this series.

This book is an excellent fit for kids who enjoy books about animals.

7. The Wild Robot

Poignant Prose

The Wild Robot (The Wild Robot, 1)
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This is the touching story of a robot named Roz, who finds herself alone on a secluded island. Not knowing how she got there, or why, she is forced to adapt to her surroundings and become one with the wild.

But how can a robot, something man-made, fit into a natural environment?

This deeply moving story has many moments that will warm your child’s soul. It also touches on themes like nature, sentience, and technology.

8. Hilo Book 1: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth

Out of This World

Hilo Book 1: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth
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If you’re looking for an action-packed graphic novel that’s fun to read, Hilo is the series for your child. It’s been praised by many a revered author, including Neil Gaiman and Jeff Smith.

It follows D.J. and Gina, two otherwise ordinary children who befriend Hilo — an alien boy who can’t remember where he comes from or why he fell to Earth.

Together they teach Hilo how to blend in and survive in our world, while trying to unlock his past. There are space robots. What more could an 8-year-old hope for?

9. Epic Zero Series

Super Cool

Epic Zero Series: Books 1-3: Epic Zero Collection
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Elliott Harkness’s parents, sister, and dog are superheroes. He, unfortunately, has no power and is labeled a “zero.” While his family saves the world, he is stuck being an ordinary kid.

When a new threat arrives and Elliot learns that he is the planet’s last hope, he has to dig deep within himself to save it. Will he become a superhero, or will he remain powerless?

Epic Zero is brilliantly narrated. It’s hilarious, original, and is bound to put a smile on your 8-year-old’s face.

10. The Secret Zoo

For Sleuths

The Secret Zoo
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Last (but absolutely not least) is this thrilling and loveable mystery that’s great for little detectives.

It follows a group of friends who live next door to the zoo. When one of them, Megan, gets a hunch that something in the zoo is amiss, she vanishes. It becomes the task of her brother and friends to find her.

Your 8-year-old is bound to love this exciting mystery. It’s got action, adventure, friendship, animals, and mystery. It’s the complete package.

The End

Although I’m drawn to each of these books for different reasons, I must pick Dragons in a Bag as the ultimate winner in our list of best books for 8-year-olds. Not only is it a fun fantasy book, but it’s the first in a series that will keep young fantasy lovers engaged.

Is your child a bookworm? Which books have I missed? Leave me a comment and let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

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