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

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.

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


2. The Diary Of A Young Girl

“The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank is the true story of how Anne and her family hid from the Nazis in a secret annex of an abandoned office building for two years.

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


3. The Hate You Give

In “The Hate You Give” by Angie Thomas, sixteen-year-old Starr Carter has to juggle two worlds.

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

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.”

In this beautifully written novel, a father unexpectedly dies in an airplane crash, leaving two daughters who don’t know about each other.

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


5. The Hobbit4

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.

From dwarves and wizards to battles and dragons, your kids will be thrilled with this marvelous world.


6. Brown Girl Dreaming

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.


7. Scythe

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

In this future, technology has made disease, hunger, war, and other natural death causes non-existent.

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

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

It tells the story of a circus that only performs at night and two star-crossed lovers and magicians.

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.


9. New Kid

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

Despite wanting to go to art school, Jordan’s parents put him in an elite private school where he’s one of the only kids of color.

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

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

In Nazi Germany, the foster child Liesel Meminger finds refuge in books.

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

In a seemingly perfect society, twelve-year-old Jonas gets his life assignment: becoming The Giver.

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

“The Outsiders” by S. E. Hinton is a classic tale about gang violence.

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

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?

Reluctant readers will love the gripping verse and the fast pace of this novel that takes place in one minute!


15. The Cruel Prince

The first book in a fantasy series, “The Cruel Prince” by Holly Black, is a popular book that your kids may be excited to read!

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

If you want a funny pick on your book list for 8th grade, check out “I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter” by Erika L. Sánchez.

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

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

A group of strangers who have had their memories wiped out find themselves at the center of an ever-changing maze.

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


18. The Hunger Games

If you’re after the most classic dystopian novel, that’d be “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins.

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

Madeleine L’Engle’s “A Wrinkle in Time” is one of our favorite middle-grade books and a story of an adventure in time and space.

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

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.

“The Voting Booth” by Brandy Colbert is a cute love story and one of the best books for 8th graders discussing democracy.


21. With The Fire On High

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

It depicts Emoni’s passion for cooking, her struggles as a young mother, her relationship with her Abuela, and a budding romance!

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

“The Poet X” by Elizabeth Acevedo is a multi-award winning novel-in-verse.

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

In Tiffany D. Jackson’s “Let Me Hear a Rhyme,” three friends decide to turn their murdered friend into a big rap star.

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

TJ Klune’s “House in the Cerulean Sea” is one of the most whimsical 8th-grade chapter books and a multi-award winning novel.

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

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.

In “Harbor Me” by Jacqueline Woodson, these friends draw strength from one another to face the world.


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?

A farm is overtaken by its mistreated animals, but is that enough to bring justice?

Orwell’s timeless allegory satirizes totalitarianism.

27. Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn

“Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain is one of the classic children’s books we grew up with!

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


28. Daughter Of Smoke And Bone

Laini Taylor’s “Daughter of Smoke and Bone” is the first book in a genre-defying YA novel.

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

If your kids are advanced readers, get them to read “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel.

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

“I Am Malala” by Malala Yousafzai is the autobiography of one of the most influential women of the 21st century.

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

Is there a better way to grab your students’ attention than a horror page-turner written by an eighteen year old?

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

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

This science-fiction book tells the story of Cassie who survived an alien attack.

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


33. Goodbye Stranger

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.


34. Echo

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

With alternating narratives across different periods and cultures, what ties this novel’s threads together is a magical harmonica!

How cool is that?


35. To Kill A Mockingbird

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

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.

After Katniss and Peeta win the games by defying the Capitol, they become the face of a potential rebellion.

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


37. The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe

“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!

Between an evil witch, a talking lion, and upcoming battles, your 8th graders won’t have enough!


38. Artemis Fowl

In “Artemis Fowl” by Eoin Colfer, we follow Artemis, a twelve-year-old genius, millionaire, and criminal mastermind.

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

“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

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.

In them, Charlie takes us through his high school experience, including new friends, many firsts, and a whirlwind of emotions.

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


41. Lord Of The Rings

Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” is one of the most influential high fantasy series, revolving around a quest to find a powerful magic ring.

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

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

“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.

From child sexual assault to racism, she’s forced to endure a lot, so Maya learns to draw power from literature.


44. Little Women

Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women” is a timeless children’s book about the March sisters, Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth.

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

If you want to diversify your booklist, Check out “The Master Puppeteer” by Katherine Paterson, a novel set in 1700s Japan.

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


46. Rebecca

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

In “Walk Two Moons,” author Sharon Creech invites your students to join Sal and her eccentric grandparents on her quest to find her mother.

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


48. Wringer

Jerry Spinelli’s award-winning “Wringer” poses a moral question wrapped in a gripping story.

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

James Baldwin depicts the reality of growing up in an abusive household in Harlem.

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

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

Friendship breakup stories are a safe bet if you want a novel that your students can resonate with.

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


51. Almost American Girl

“Almost American Girl” by Robin Ha is a nonfiction graphic novel about immigration and identity.

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

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

With an upcoming ruthless alien attack, Ender, a teenager, is chosen to lead the battle and save Earth.

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


53. Alone

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

Nikki Doyle dreams of becoming a basketball player, and the elite-level club should help her do that, except everyone else is taller, faster, and stronger.

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

A family feud forces Meilan away from Chinatown, Boston to rural Ohio, its polar opposite.

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

In “You Have a Match” by Emma Lord, Abby signs up for a DNA service only to discover that she has a sister!

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

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

Standing on the edge of a tower, they meet, and that changes everything.

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

Emily/ author of the article

Emily is an active mother of two and a dedicated elementary school teacher. She believes the latest technology has made a huge impact on the quality of early learning and has worked hard to upgrade her classroom and her own children’s learning experience through technology.

Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram for more teaching fun!
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