The 50 Best Books for 7- and 8-Year-Olds
posted by: Amber Johnson
At seven and eight, children can concentrate for longer periods of time and are developing strong interests. It’s a significant time of growth for a child’s reading life, too. Children gain better comprehension skills, vocabulary, reading strategies, and confidence. All this happens when kids are immersed in books. Every day. For sustained periods of time.
That being said, this is also a time when learning differences show up. If your child is not improving in reading, it’s important to determine why and get help. Public schools can evaluate your child for free, or you can get a private evaluation from an independent psychologist.
As with most skills, practice makes better. We want our 7- and 8-year-olds reading books that are just right for their reading level and that they love.
So, what books will keep your children reading voraciously? Brightly’s panel of experts (including Denver mom Melissa Taylor) collaborated to find the 50 best books for 7- and 8-year-olds — great books that will spark their interest and keep them engaged.
Not just for little kids, picture books provide elementary-age children with meaningful illustrated stories that build background knowledge, improve vocabulary, teach valuable lessons, and inspire imagination. Try our favorite picture book selections for the 7- and 8-year-old crowd. We think your kids will love them.
Squids Will Be Squids by Jon Scieszka, illustrated by Lane Smith http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/286625/squids-will-be-squids-by-jon-scieszka-illustrated-by-lane-smith/9780142500408/
Actual Size by Steve Jenkins
Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld http://www.scholastic.com/parents/book/exclamation-mark
Maps by Mizielińska and Daniel Mizieliński
The Dot by Peter H. Reynolds http://candlewick.com/cat.asp?mode=book&isbn=0763619612&browse=Title
Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett, illustrated by Matt Myers http://books.simonandschuster.com/Battle-Bunny/Jon-Scieszka/9781442446731
Pancho Rabbit and the Coyote by Duncan Tonatiuh http://www.abramsbooks.com/product/pancho-rabbit-and-the-coyote_9781419705830/
Firefly July edited by Paul B. Janeczko, illustrated by Melissa Sweet http://www.candlewick.com/cat.asp?browse=Title&mode=book&isbn=0763648426&pix=y
Ordinary People Change the World Series by Brad Meltzer, illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos
Grandfather Gandhi by Arun Gandhi, illustrated by Bethany Hegedus http://books.simonandschuster.com/Grandfather-Gandhi/Arun-Gandhi/9781442423657
Beginning Chapter Books
Beginning chapter books are the next step after early readers and a big deal for kids. Chapter books signify to kids that they’re becoming a “grown-up” reader. Celebrate this stage when it comes, but make sure your children are ready are ready for it. (Use the 5-Finger Test to help.)
Dragonbreath by Usurla Vernon http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/303991/dragonbreath-by-ursula-vernon/
The Adventures of Nanny Piggens by R.A. Spratt, illustrated by Dan Santat
Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke, illustrated by Lauren Tobia
The World According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/292351/the-world-according-to-humphrey-by-betty-g-birney/9780142403525/
Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/303342/make-way-for-dyamonde-daniel-by-nikki-grimes-illustrated-by-r-gregory-christie/9780142415559/
The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin
Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel
A Horn for Louis by Eric A. Kimmel
The Haunted Library #1 by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Aurore Damant http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/311942/the-haunted-library-1-by-dori-butler-illustrated-by-aurore-damant/9780448462431/
My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish by Mo O’Hara, illustrated by Marek Jagucki http://us.macmillan.com/mybigfatzombiegoldfish/moohara
Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins, illustrated by Jamie Hogan http://www.charlesbridge.com/products/rickshaw-girl
The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe’s Very First Case by Alexander McCall Smith, illustrated by Iain McIntosh
Lola Levine Is Not Mean! by Monica Brown, illustrated by Angela Dominguez http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/titles/monica-brown/lola-levine-is-not-mean/9780316258364/
My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett, illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin http://www.hmhco.com/shop/books/The-Hundred-Dresses/9780152052607
Over My Dead Body (43 Old Cemetery Road) by Kate Klise, illustrated by M. Sarah Klise http://www.hmhco.com/shop/books/Over-My-Dead-Body/9780547577135
Next Level Chapter Books
When your child breezes through beginning chapter books, it’s time to move on to harder selections. Books like the ones below will provide just enough of a challenge to encourage reading growth and develop literacy. Plus, they’re all excellent, kid-favorite choices.
Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Quentin Blake http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/305879/fantastic-mr-fox-by-roald-dahl-illustrated-by-quentin-blake/9780142410349/
Weird But True Series by National Geographic http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/explore/adventure_pass/weird-but-true/
Fairest of All (Whatever After, Book #1) by Sarah Mlynowski http://www.scholastic.com/parents/book/fairest-all
Who Was…? Series by various authors
Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George
Sideways Stories from Wayside School by Louis Sachar, illustrated by Adam McCauley http://www.harpercollins.com/9780380698714/sideways-stories-from-wayside-school
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
I Survived Series by Lauren Tarshis
The Sasquatch Escape (The Imaginary Veterinarian, Book #1) by Suzanne Selfors, illustrated by Dan Santat
Toys Go Out by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/87063/toys-go-out-by-emily-jenkins-illustrated-by-paul-zelinsky/9780385736619/
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White, illustrated by Garth Williams http://www.harpercollins.com/9780060263850/charlottes-web
Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows, illustrated by Sophie Blackall http://www.chroniclebooks.com/titles/ivy-and-bean.html
Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary, illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers http://www.harpercollins.com/9780380709182/beezus-and-ramona
Jenny and the Cat Club by Esther Averill
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein http://www.harpercollins.com/9780060256685/where-the-sidewalk-ends
Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
More Challenging Books to Share with an Adult
Even books that are challenging for kids to read independently can be perfect for reading aloud. That’s because a child’s auditory comprehension is always a bit higher than their reading comprehension. Any of the books in this section can be shared at bedtime, in the classroom, or as an audiobook in the car.
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O’Brien, illustrated by Zena Bernstein http://books.simonandschuster.com/Mrs-Frisby-and-the-Rats-of-Nimh/Robert-C-OBrien/9780689710681
D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths by Ingri d’Aulaire and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/36027/daulaires-book-of-greek-myths-by-ingri-daulaire-and-edgar-parin-daulaire/9780440406945/
The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Patricia Castelao
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis http://www.harpercollins.com/9780064471046/the-lion-the-witch-and-the-wardrobe
From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg http://books.simonandschuster.com/From-the-Mixed-up-Files-of-Mrs-Basil-E-Frankweiler/E-L-Konigsburg/9781416949756
Holes by Louis Sachar
The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall
Get the printable version of the list!