View Full Version : Age-appropriate books for 8yo advanced reader?

08-19-2014, 01:53 AM
My son has been reading way above his grade level for some time and I find it difficult to find books that are a good fit for his young age but also challenge him in terms of reading level.

He's gone through the Percy Jackson Lightning Thief series, the first 4 Harry Potters (holding off on the later - darker - books until he turns at least 9!), all the Boxcar Children, many of the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drews, many of the Wimpy Kid and Geronimo Stiltons, the Dan Gutman sports series, the How to Train Your Dragon series. Are there any books/series out there that aren't too mature (talking about crushes or love interests, alcohol/drugs) or violent (no suicides, please).

We have done lots of classics already (Wizard of Oz, Trumpet of the Swans, Charlotte's Web, Roald Dahl books, Stuart Little, Indian in the Cupboard, Great Brain, Half Magic, etc. etc. etc.). We also subscribe to National Geographic (kids and adult subscriptions), and many many other magazines.

It's getting to the point where he's bored of many titles that are "for his age," and is now just reading graphic novels or comics, like Calvin & Hobbes and the Far Side compendiums, for fun. I want to keep him challenged but don't want to expose him to ideas and concepts that too mature.

We are working on the Narnia series and will begin the Hobbit soon. Any other ideas are much appreciated. Thanks so much for reading this far and for any suggestions!

08-19-2014, 03:34 PM
Bias upfront: I tend to opt for literature over series books for dd10. Narnia and any Tolkien though would be great methinks! And if fantasy is what he likes, that's a deep category (about which I know nearly nothing though!).

Have you looked up the Newbery awards lists? (http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/bookmedia/newberymedal/newberymedal) I've found some great ones hidden in the runners-up category. And if you're worried about content there's usually enough written about each book that you should be able to judge it beforehand.

This is also a good site for books: Hoagie's Lists (http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/reading_lists.htm)

I have also had some luck finding new titles through the listmania! feature in Amazon.

And then: check with your local librarian! S/he will surely be able to help you.

08-19-2014, 04:05 PM
My daughter absolutely LOVED the Gregor the Overlander series, and I've heard good things about the Wondla and Fablehaven series, as well.

08-19-2014, 04:19 PM
Swallows and Amazons series by Arthur Ransome! My kids adore these books from the 1930's about a group of adventurous kids who sail, camp, and explore. There are about 12 or so books, mostly set in England. No violence or dark themes, just great camaraderie and fun.

08-19-2014, 04:44 PM
You might also have a look at the Mensa kids list and the NPR 100 books list (though not all of the books on the latter will be age appropriate). Has he read classics like Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, Robinson Crusoe, the Jules Verne and Jack London books? Those have all been popular with my DS (who is one year older than yours) inthe past 2-3 years.

And I second asking your local librarians for suggestions.

08-19-2014, 05:11 PM
Diana Wynne Jones has lots of great books for that age/ability, especially Homeward Bounders, the Chrestomanci series (written about 20 years earlier than Harry Potter--Rowling actually "borrowed" several elements of her books from Jones, including horcruxes and the put-outer), the Dalemark Quartet series, and the Howl's Moving Castle Series. Also highly recommend Terry Pratchett's The Wee Free Men, Nation, and The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents.

08-19-2014, 05:27 PM
I love this site! I could have written the first post, including the entire book list the op mentioned. Thanks for all the suggestions!

OP - has your boy read the Deltora series, by Emily Rodda? Would he be interested in the Redwall books?

08-19-2014, 06:02 PM
This is so awesome! Thanks so much, everyone, for the suggestions. I can't wait to dig into the titles and see what might interest him. I, too, favor literature over many of these modern series (e.g., Wimpy Kid) but I do need to take into account his developing almost-tween preferences. :_hair: :D: I think the only way I can get him to digest the classics is by reading them to him, especially if they are not the simplified "kid versions."

08-19-2014, 06:36 PM
The Edward Eager Books(there's 7 of them), the Bagthorpes saga by Helen Cresswell, and the Sisters Grimm series.

08-19-2014, 06:42 PM
Read anything by Frances Hardinge lately? Guaranteed to challenge his vocabulary!

But man, oh man, these comments are heavy on the fantasy and sci-fi! Now, I love fantasy and sci-fi myself, but lemme finish making dinner and I'll see what else I can think of.

08-19-2014, 06:54 PM
Oh, my gosh, do we love us some Frances Hardinge in our house!

To pick up the non-fantasy/non-sci-fi gauntlet thrown down by Tanaqui, I'll add the George series by Stephen and Lucy Hawking--okay, so it's a little sic-fi (okay, a lot), but also has whole sections of nonfiction physics. My daughter loves them.

Also, the nonfiction graphic novels like Primates and those by Jay Hosler (Clan Apis, The Sandwalk Adventures, and Evolution: The Story of Life on Earth).

08-19-2014, 09:29 PM
Seconding most of these. Especially Diana Wynne Jones, Gregor the Overlander series, and Edward Eager.

And look at the Newbery lists.

If you want to get away from fantasy, maybe try Andrew Clements, The Penderwicks, the Saturdays books (and all her books!), EL Konigsburg, Christopher Paul Curtis, the Lemonade War series...

Let's see... books my boys have recently enjoyed included... Dead End in Norvelt, 11 Birthdays (though that one has some boy girl tension - no kissing or anything comes of it though), the Seven Wonders series (very like Percy Jackson), Cosmic...

I don't think you'll run out of options. Most stuff in the middle grades section is fine for 8 yos and much of it will be challenging enough to keep him busy.

I will say... if there can't be any mention of boy-girl anything, then you may have a problem. But I think you don't really mean that. There's a ton of that in Percy Jackson and that was apparently okay with you. If it's labeled middle grades, there won't be anything beyond a chaste kiss at most, but a lot of everyday kid books have fifth or sixth grade aged kids with their first boy-girl type tensions.

08-19-2014, 10:02 PM
Okay, lemme see if I can come up with any non-fantasy and non-sci-fi. It's gonna be hard, because that's what I love to read and loved as a kid, but I'm sure I can think of something.

Well, okay, the first thing to spring to mind is some nice historical fiction. The Sky is Falling, The Great Brain series, Treasure Island (I'm loosely considering books written a long time ago as historical fiction, as they sure aren't contemporary anymore!), Detectives in Togas, The Eagle of the Ninth, anything by E. Nesbit (who rocks), Bud, Not Buddy, Journey to the River Sea, The Star of Kazan, A Single Shard, Al Capone Does My Shirts, When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (which has got to be one of the gentlest introductions to the holocaust ever, excepting this one scene where the author eavesdrops on a conversation she shouldn't be hearing.)

Most reasonably done contemporary fiction has been covered.

Which leaves... non-fiction! Does he like non-fiction at all?

08-19-2014, 10:47 PM
We loved Where the Mountain Meets the Moon. DD liked the Dog Diaries series, so I looked for other books by that author and found the Dragon Keepers series. DD seems to really like them. I haven't read them, so I can't vouch for quality. She also liked the Roman Mysteries, but there are some dark themes in those.

08-20-2014, 03:53 AM
The books you mentioned your son has read strike me as very "geared towards boys." Perhaps you could open up a whole new world of literature by asking the librarians for books at his level that are more "geared towards girls." Obviously both of those terms have limitations but hopefully you know what I mean. Have fun exploring!

Jen Law
08-20-2014, 10:30 AM
I recommend Michael Morpurgo (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Michael-Morpurgo/e/B001HCUUT6/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1408544890&sr=8-2-ent), John Boyne (http://www.amazon.co.uk/John-Boyne/e/B001HCXVHE/ref=ntt_aut_sim_2_2), David Almond (http://www.amazon.co.uk/David-Almond/e/B000APNNJK/ref=ntt_aut_sim_5_1) and David Walliams (http://www.amazon.co.uk/David-Walliams/e/B0034PC11O/ref=ntt_aut_sim_3_1). Hipster recommends Wonder (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wonder-R-J-Palacio/dp/0552565970/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1408544581&sr=8-1&keywords=wonder), Weight of Water (http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Weight-Water-Sarah-Crossan/dp/140883023X/ref=pd_sim_b_12?ie=UTF8&refRID=1VEGS4H7DRCJ60535A7Z) and When you reach me (http://www.amazon.co.uk/When-You-Reach-Rebecca-Stead/dp/1849392129/ref=pd_sim_b_19?ie=UTF8&refRID=17VQ8ZS0GQ1DHS9DG2QZ) and All the wrong Questions by Lemony Snicket. My husband recommends the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Series (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wolf-Brother-Chronicles-Ancient-Darkness/dp/1842551310/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1408545289&sr=1-1&keywords=wolf+brother)...actually we all recommend that one.

08-20-2014, 10:38 AM
The books you mentioned your son has read strike me as very "geared towards boys." Perhaps you could open up a whole new world of literature by asking the librarians for books at his level that are more "geared towards girls." Obviously both of those terms have limitations but hopefully you know what I mean. Have fun exploring!

One of DS's recent favorites which would probably be in this category is The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. It is really a lovely book.

If he likes series, The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place is a cute one, pretty easy reading. And in that vein, there is always Lemony Snickett.

08-20-2014, 02:08 PM
My initial reply didn't go through....(not sure how long moderation takes). THANK YOU, everyone, for the lovely suggestions. I can't wait to go through them all and add to our list! :)

08-21-2014, 04:21 AM
My boys, who are the same age and also advanced readers, loved the Harriet the Spy books. Also, maybe A Wrinkle in Time?