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

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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 8th 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 GradersWhy 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: 2021-09-01


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.

On Sale
How I Discovered Poetry
  • Nelson, Marilyn (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 112 Pages - 03/08/2016 (Publication Date) - Speak (Publisher)

Last update: 2021-09-01


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 8th grade book!

Taking Hold: From Migrant Childhood to Columbia University
  • Book - taking hold: from migrant childhood to columbia university
  • Language: english
  • Binding: paperback

Last update: 2021-09-01


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!

On Sale
The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler
  • Hendrix, John (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 176 Pages - 09/18/2018 (Publication Date) - Harry N. Abrams (Publisher)

Last update: 2021-09-01


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 8th grade book!

On Sale
Hey, Kiddo (National Book Award Finalist)
  • Krosoczka, Jarrett J. (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 10/09/2018 (Publication Date) - Graphix (Publisher)

Last update: 2021-09-01


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)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 336 Pages - 05/07/2019 (Publication Date) - Yearling (Publisher)

Last update: 2021-09-01


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!

On Sale
Alice Paul and the Fight for Women's Rights: From the Vote to the Equal Rights Amendment
  • Hardcover Book
  • Kops, Deborah (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-09-01


The Best Science Nonfiction Books for 8th Graders

The Best Science Nonfiction 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)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 272 Pages - 02/20/2018 (Publication Date) - Balzer + Bray (Publisher)

Last update: 2021-09-01


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.

On Sale
Unpresidented: A Biography of Donald Trump
  • Hardcover Book
  • Brockenbrough, Martha (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)

Last update: 2021-09-01


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.

On Sale
Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team
  • Roaring Brook Press
  • Hardcover Book
  • Sheinkin, Steve (Author)

Last update: 2021-09-01


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 8th 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 8th 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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