The Best 8th Grade Reading List

By August 3, 2019 October 16th, 2019 Reading Book Lists
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Are you looking for books to keep you or your 8th grader entertained? Are you struggling to find titles that are relatable and informative? Are you looking for a list which contains a perfect mix of fiction, non-fiction and more?  If you can answer yes to any of these questions you’ve come to the right place.  8th grade is a time for introspection and discovery.  This is the last year that you or your student will be in middle school. The next year of your life will be embarking on a journey; this is new, exciting, and can even be scary.  This list of books embodies those qualities.  You will find books which provide a profound sense of adventure and fantasy as well as titles which can be a bit more serious.  No matter what you choose, a world of possibilities and a wealth of knowledge is ahead.  This list hands down contain the best books for 8th graders.  What are you waiting for? Dive right in and we’ll see you on the other side.

The Best Books to Read in 8th Grade

Sold by Patricia McCormick

Sold by Patricia McCormick is the story of a poor thirteen-year-old girl, Lakshmi, and her low-income family whose life takes a turn after the monsoons wash away her family’s crops.  Lakshmi is forced to go into the world and take on a job.  However, her hope is short-lived when she realizes that she has been brought to a brothel and sold into prostitution. Despite her circumstances, she continues to live by her mother’s words, “Simply to endure is to triumph.”  Sold is a story of strength and endurance.  Though in a distant land, the sad reality remains that what happens to Lakshmi can happen to anyone no matter where you are.


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

The Fault in Our Stars is the story of Hazel Lancaster. Hazel is a 16-year-old cancer patient, who narrates the story of a group of teenagers who have one foot in the grave.  The story follows Hazel to a cancer support group where she ultimately meets and falls in love with a teenage amputee and fellow cancer patient.  The heart-wrenching story is one centered around acceptance of our own fate, a lesson that many 8th graders can value.


The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Perks of Being a Wallflower recounts the experience of Charlie, an observant wallflower experiencing high school. The story is told in a series of letters which are both disturbing and humorous. Charlie shares his stories of all of the first that happens in high school. This includes first dates, family drama, and so much more. Through his letters, Charlie pieces together the perfect coming of age story. As of 8th graders transition to high school, this is the ideal story. Although it may not be everyone’s experience, it will potentially be that of someone you may or may not know.


Award Winning Popular Books for 8th Graders

Heat by Mike Lupica

Heat is a New York Times bestseller which tells the story of Michael Arroyo. Michael Arroyo has a fantastic pitching arm, but his life off of the field is no crystal stair. Michael is a newly orphaned child, and his only family is his 17-year-old brother. Michael is fighting not to be sent back to Cuba; however, others become suspicious because of his throwing powers. However, Michaels secret world comes crashing down, and he discovers that family can mean more than blood. This is an excellent read for any little league players or baseball fans. Regardless of the fight, Michael proves to everyone that perseverance is vital.


Hatchet by Gary Paulsen

Hatchet is a Newbery medal-winning publication written in 1987. It is a survival novel in which the main character,  Brian, finds himself stranded in the wilderness after a crash landing of his prop plane. His only weapon is a hatchet which his mother gave him before setting out. Alone and distraught from the personal stressors in his home life, Brian must learn to channel this negative energy into survival. The novel is a story of growth and transformation, and it is one of the best books for 8th graders due to this messaging.


Recommended 8th Grade Reading List Classics

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a gothic literary classic first published in 1886.  The story is centered around a London lawyer named John Gabriel Utterson who investigates strange occurrences between his old friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll, and the evil Edward Hyde. The book focuses in on the evil trapped inside and how it can wreak havoc if not controlled. Though the book has moments of intensity, an 8th grader should be able to appreciate the story at face value and the message it delivers.


Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Lord of the flies is said to be an unforgettable classic for readers of any age. This is the story of a group of boys who become stranded on an uncharted island after a plane crash. The boys who at first celebrate being away from parental control and rules are soon met with the harsh reality that being rescued and even surviving may not be as adventurous or easy as the expected. With order waning as time grows, things won’t remain civil and peaceful for long. Many have categorized the novel as dystopian fiction or even horror. This is an excellent read about survival and how things can take a turn for the worst. It’s also a representation of how easily innocence can be lost. Students will be entertained for hours on end.


Recommended 8th Grade Reading List for Common Core

1984 by George Orwell

1984 is a controversial novel which has been repeatedly banned in the past. It follows the story of Oceania, a super state ruled by “The Party.” “The Party’s” job is to suppress any ideas or attempts at individualism and uninhibited thought.  This is executed using an entity called the “Thought Police.” One of the main characters, Winston Smith, is a Party member who secretly despises the party and everything they stand for. His dreams of rebellion come true when he falls in love with his coworker, Julia. Censorship and nationalism are two major themes within the book.


The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book is the story of Nobody Owens, also known as Bod, a seemingly normal boy who lives in a graveyard and is being raised by ghosts. The Graveyard Book is the only book win both the Carnegie and Newbery medals. Although Bod lives his life in a graveyard, he is able to grasp the more profound truth about what it means to be human and pass this on to the readers.


Recommended 8th Grade Historical Fiction Books

Letters from a Slave Girl: The Story of Harriet Jacobs by Mary E. Lyons

Letters from a Slave girl is based on the true story of Harriet Ann Jacobs. Unfortunately, slavery is the only life that Harriet has ever know, and when her mistress dies, she is hopeful that she may gain her freedom. Harriet knows that having hope is dangerous, especially for a slave, but her one wish is to go north. She uses this to keep her going and ultimately help her survive. This story details what many African American women went through as slaves and what they had to do to survive.


The Best 8th Grade Nonfiction Books

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens is not a novel or autobiography. Instead, it is a guide that can help students be more productive and build habits that will make them highly effective people. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens is a road map to success, positive self-confidence, and lasting relationships. The book is filled with ideas, quotes, stories, and problem-solving techniques for real-world scenarios. This book has even been backed by celebrities like Michael Phelps. This is the perfect book for 8th graders looking to get a head start on high school.


Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Freedman Russell

Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Freedman Russell recounts the beginning of the Montgomery bus boycott, which started in 1955 when Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white male. These boycotts lasted for a year and proved to be a significant victory in the civil rights movement. The book includes eyewitness reports, photographs, and explanation of what each major contributor to the Civil Rights Movement did.  These contributors were Rosa Parks, Claudette Colvin, Jo Ann Robinson, and Martin Luther King, Jr.  This book is a great addition to any Civil Rights unit or a good black history month read.


Night by Elie Wiesel

Night is the true story of how Elie Wiesel survived his teenage years in the Nazi death camps. In 1944 Elie was taken to Auschwitz and later to Buchenwald. Auschwitz was the largest of the concentration camps with a death toll of over 1.1 million. It was a complex of over 40 concentration and extermination camps built and operated by Nazi Germany with 1.3 million inmates, meaning only .2 million survived or were transferred to another death camp where their life may have come to an end. Night is the terrifying story of what happened to many Jewish families. In Night, he recalls the deaths of his family, his despair and ultimately the death of his innocence. Books like these are essential to read as we do not want to end up in these predicaments again. Night is the first book in a 3-part trilogy. Subsequent books include Dawn and Day.


The Best 8th Grade Fiction Books

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl is the story of 2 sisters, twins, who use being fan girls to cope with their mother leaving. They spend their time reading about Simon Snow and following his stardom. Wren has been able to leave her fangirl routes behind, but Cath is another story entirely. With college steadily approaching her world is no longer the same. Wren is growing into her own person, and she’s concerned about her father’s ability to be alone.  Cath must find her footing in the world without her twin their every step of the way, can she do it? This is a great 8th-grade fiction book for students who are learning to cope with change.


This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki

This One Summer is a graphic novel which follows two preteen friends, Rose and Windy, throughout their annual summer beach trip. However, this time would be nothing like the last, and Rose is interested in a boy. A boy who has the potential to threaten her friendship with Windy. This is a relatable story that many 8th grade students may find relatable. It’s normal for things to change as you grow. However, you control how you handle it and how it affects your friendship.


Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children series by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children books are bestsellers which have since been adopted into a motion picture. The set consists of 3 books which follow the children of an orphanage, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. The first book, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, sets the scene for the other books in the series. In the first novel, readers meet Jacob, a 16-year-old orphan who discovers that the children of the orphanage are more than a little peculiar. The following books, Hollow City and Library of Souls. You won’t want to miss these stories; things only get stranger as each story progresses. These are not easy books to put down once they have begun.


Inkheart (Inkheart Trilogy) by Cornelia Funke

Inkheart is another series of fantasy and magic. It all begins in book one when Meggie’s, one of the main characters, the father reads from a book titled “Inkheart.” From there, an evil ruler from the book appears in their living room. Meggie’s life is no longer normal, and the adventures must begin in order for her to have any chance of putting them to an end. Following Inkheart are Inkspell and Inkdeath. Inkspell is the sequel to Inkheart, and Meggie must deal with the words that have been read to life as they struggle to get back to the time they are accustomed to. Inkdeath is the third and final book in the trilogy.


Absolute Must Read 8th Grade Books Before High School

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Henrietta Lacks was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells were stolen from her in 1951. These cells were one of the most important tools in medicine as they have been used to develop a number of vaccines which include the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, and so much more. Her cells have done amazing things to help modern medicine, yet still, we barely know the woman behind them. Henrietta was not compensated for her cells and was ultimately taken advantage of as she couldn’t even afford health insurance. This is a story of ethics, scientific discovery, and most profoundly, race. This is an excellent read for its historical value and the necessity to know the woman behind the HeLa cells.


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate You Give is a gut-wrenching story that may be hard for some African American students to read. However, it is a must read. It is the story of Starr Carter, a teenage girl who must balance between the poverty-stricken community she lives in and the suburban prep school she attends. This balance is destroyed when she witnesses her best friend, Khalil, killed by a police officer. Much like the climate of today’s society, his name makes headlines.  Many are misconstruing his narrative by opting to refer to him as a thug or a gangbanger. However, Starr knows the truth. The police and authorities aim to intimidate and threaten her, as she is the only witness. Star must make a choice that could alter her future or the future of her community forever. The Hate You Give is a compelling story mirrored after a sad reality, one that many African American children may at one-point face. It’s a great read and has a message for everyone.


Summary of the Best 8th Grade Reading List

Wrapping everything up, here are the 8th grade reading list we went over today:

ProductList PriceNumber Of Pages
SOLD $8.99 263
The Fault in Our Stars $12.99 352
The Perks of Being a Wallflower $14.99 224
Heat $8.99 256
Hatchet $8.99 192
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde $5.99 54
Lord of the Flies $9.99 224
1984 (Signet Classics) $9.99 328
The Graveyard Book N/A 368
Letters from a Slave Girl: The Story of Harriet Jacobs $7.99 192
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens $17.99 288
Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott Grades 6-8 $14.95 112
Night (Night) $11.00 120
Fangirl: A Novel $18.99 448
This One Summer $18.99 320
Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children Boxed Set $33.97 1280
Inkheart (Inkheart Trilogy) $10.99 560
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks $17.00 381
The Hate U Give $18.99 464

The works on this list of best 8th grade books not only aim to give readers a more profound sense of self but of the world.  In 8th grade, students are going from a big fish in a small pond to the exact opposite.  Hopefully, the books provided in this list give your student, child, or yourself a strong sense of self and the ability to believe that you can overcome the adversities placed in front of you.  This list has something for everyone.  If you are looking for a light-hearted read, Fan Girl is the perfect book for you.  If you are looking to get a head start on being a better student, friend, an all-around person, check out the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens.  If you are looking for books about real events and people, then check out Night, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks or even Freedom Walkers: The Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  No matter what book you choose, this list contains some of the best books to read in 8th grade, so you won’t regret it.

Did you find this helpful? If so, check out our other middle school reading lists:

> The Best Books for Middle School Boys

> The Best Books for Middle School Girls

> The Best Middle School Summer Reading List


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