Classic Literature for 8th Graders
Classic literature is a must-read for any 8th-grade student. It helps in broadening their vocabulary, developing critical thinking skills, and understanding the world around them. From timeless classics such as To Kill A Mockingbird and The Great Gatsby to modern-day hits like Harry Potter, there are countless books that students can choose from. Here are some of the must-read classic literature for 8th graders.
To Kill A Mockingbird: This stunning novel by Harper Lee tells the story of a young girl named Scout Finch in a small Alabama town during the Great Depression. Written in 1960, it explores the racial and social inequalities of the time and highlights the importance of integrity, empathy, and courage.
The novel has won numerous awards including the Pulitzer Prize and has been adapted into a movie, a play, and a graphic novel. Its themes of injustice, prejudice, and racism are still relevant today and make it an essential read for 8th-grade students.
The Great Gatsby: Written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1925, The Great Gatsby is a classic tale of love, wealth, and American dream set in the Roaring Twenties. The story revolves around the mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby and his obsession with Daisy Buchanan, a shallow and selfish socialite.
The novel is a masterpiece of modern literature and has been adapted into movies, TV shows, and plays. Its themes of social class, materialism, and disillusionment are still relevant today and make it a timeless classic for 8th-grade students.
Animal Farm: This allegorical novella by George Orwell was published in 1945 and tells the story of a group of farm animals who overthrow their human owner and create a society in which the animals can live free from oppression. However, as the story unfolds, the pigs who lead the revolution become more corrupt and oppressive than the humans they overthrew.
The novel is a satire on the events leading up to the Russian Revolution and the Stalinist era. Its themes of power, corruption, and totalitarianism are still relevant today and make it an important read for 8th-grade students.
The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn: Written by Mark Twain in 1884, The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn is a sequel to The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer and tells the story of a young boy named Huck Finn who runs away from his abusive father with a runaway slave named Jim.
The novel is a masterpiece of American literature and has been banned and challenged many times due to its use of racial slurs and its portrayal of race and slavery. However, its themes of freedom, friendship, and morality make it an essential read for 8th-grade students.
Lord Of The Flies: Published in 1954 by William Golding, Lord Of The Flies is a novel about a group of British boys who get stranded on an uninhabited island and must fend for themselves. As they struggle to survive, they create their own society, but their primitive instincts slowly take over, leading to chaos and violence.
The novel is a compelling allegory of human nature and the inherent evil that lurks within us. Its themes of morality, civilization, and power are still relevant today and make it an important read for 8th-grade students.
The Outsiders: This novel by S.E. Hinton was published in 1967 and tells the story of two rival gangs in a small Oklahoma town, the Greasers and the Socs. The novel explores the themes of social class, identity, and family and shows how friendship and loyalty can transcend these barriers.
The novel is a classic of adolescent literature and has sold over 15 million copies worldwide. Its themes of identity, loyalty, and peer pressure make it a relatable read for 8th-grade students.
In conclusion, classic literature is an essential part of any 8th-grade reading list. From To Kill A Mockingbird to The Outsiders, there are countless books that students can choose from to enrich their academic and personal development. These timeless classics have stood the test of time and continue to inspire and influence people of all ages.
Contemporary Works for 8th Graders
Contemporary books are those which are written in the present day or era. These books give learners a chance to experience social change, technological advancements, current political climate, and issues that are relevant in the modern world. Here are some contemporary works that you should consider reading in the 8th grade:
1. Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Wonder is the story of Auggie Pullman, a young boy born with a facial disfigurement which has prevented him from attending a mainstream school. This book explores the themes of acceptance, tolerance, and empathy, and is perfect for middle school students. As Auggie tries to navigate the challenges of middle school, he must confront bullying, build friendships, and find his place in the world.
2. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Hate U Give is a powerful story that explores issues of police brutality, institutional racism, and social activism. The book tells the story of Starr, a sixteen-year-old African-American girl who witnesses the shooting of her childhood friend Khalil by a white police officer. As Starr seeks justice for Khalil, she must confront the racism and prejudice that exists in her everyday life. The Hate U Give is a relevant and essential read for middle schoolers as it educates them about their role in the fight against injustice.
3. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Fault in Our Stars is a moving and emotional story of Hazel and Gus, two teenagers living with cancer who meet in a support group. The book is a touching exploration of love, loss, and hope in the face of adversity. As Hazel and Gus’ relationship develops, they are forced to confront the difficult realities of their illness and the impact it has on their lives. John Green’s writing is heartfelt and honest, making this book a must-read for any 8th graders who enjoy contemporary literature.
4. Refugee by Alan Gratz
Refugee is a historical fiction book that follows the stories of three children from different parts of the world; Josef, a Jewish boy living in Nazi Germany, Isabel, a Cuban girl escaping the Castro regime, and Mahmoud, a Syrian boy fleeing the war. The book explores the themes of prejudice, discrimination and the universal plight of refugees. As the three children embark on their separate journeys, they face countless challenges and must rely on their inner strength and resilience to survive. Refugee is a powerful and educational read that will broaden readers’ perspectives and show them the importance of compassion and understanding.
5. The Maze Runner by James Dashner
The Maze Runner is a thrilling science fiction book that is perfect for readers who enjoy action and adventure. The book follows the story of Thomas, a teenage boy who wakes up in a mysterious maze with no memories of his past. As Thomas tries to uncover the secrets of the maze and find a way out, he must navigate the dangers of this new world and confront the fearsome creatures that lurk within. The Maze Runner is a suspenseful and exciting read that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.
Contemporary books offer middle school students a lens into the world that they live in. They provide them with important and relevant information that they can apply in their daily lives. These five books mentioned above are just a few of the many incredible contemporary works that you might consider adding to your reading list. They cover a variety of topics, from societal issues to action-packed sci-fi adventure, and they are sure to keep readers engaged and curious.
Diversity and Representation in 8th Grade Reading
When it comes to choosing a reading list for 8th graders, it is crucial to consider diversity and representation. Reading should be a way to expose children to different cultures, beliefs, and lifestyles. Here are some recommended books that offer diverse perspectives and representation:
1. Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
This memoir-in-verse tells the story of a young African American girl growing up in the 1960s and 1970s in South Carolina and New York. Jacqueline Woodson deftly captures the complexities and nuances of what it meant to be Black during that time period. This book won the National Book Award in 2014 and is perfect for middle schoolers looking for insight into the civil rights movement and personal identity.
2. Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan
This novel follows a young Mexican girl named Esperanza and her family as they navigate the challenges of immigrating to California during the Great Depression. The book brings attention to issues of social justice and economic inequality and highlights the importance of family and community. As one of the most popular children’s books of the past decade, this tale is captivating and relatable for young readers.
3. Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai
This autobiographical novel follows 10-year-old Hà as she and her family flee Vietnam and navigate the challenges of resettling in Alabama during the 1970s. The story emphasizes the importance of resilience and intercultural exchange. It shows how war, loss, and displacement affect individuals and families from diverse backgrounds. This novel won the National Book Award in 2011 and is a great point of reference for understanding how refugees and immigrants are navigating America.
4. Drama by Raina Telgemeier
This graphic novel tells the story of Callie, a middle schooler who dreams of being a set designer for her school’s theater productions. The novel explores themes of friendship, creativity, and inclusivity. The graphic novel opens up dialogue for Queer representation, and it is an excellent read for entertainment and knowledge. Drama has won several awards and is a NY Times bestseller.
5. Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina
This novel follows Piddy Sanchez, a high schooler who is being bullied by another girl. The story highlights the issue of bullying, especially in communities of color. It gives readers an in-depth look into Latinx culture in the United States as well as showing the consequences of discrimination. This novel’s blunt language and themes are prevalent in middle schoolers, and it adds to Piddy’s credibility.
6. George by Alex Gino
This novel centers around a transgender girl named George, who wants to play Charlotte in her school’s rendition of Charlotte’s Web. The book highlights transgender representation with layered characters, humor, and emotional storytelling. The book’s themes are to promote awareness and appreciation for different gender identities and sexual orientations. The New York Times called George “warm and-wise,” and it won the Stonewall Book Award in 2016.
The book selections above provide an excellent starting point for 8th graders’ diverse and progressive reading habits. They emphasize the importance of representation and showcase various backgrounds and experiences. They even promote discussions that add to children’s knowledge and promote curiosity in other’s differences. In summary, these books encourage readers to be more open-minded and embrace diversity as an essential part of humanity’s richness.
Non-Fiction Choices for 8th Grade
4. “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot – This non-fiction book tells the story of Henrietta Lacks, a woman whose cancer cells were taken without her knowledge in 1951 and used for scientific research. The book not only discusses the ethical implications of using someone’s cells without their consent, but also provides a detailed history of medical research and advancements in the 20th century. Additionally, the book delves into the personal lives of Lacks’ family members and the impact that her cells and their genetic information had on their lives. This book is perfect for students interested in science, ethics, and the intersection of personal and societal issues.
While some non-fiction books can be dry and boring, there are many options available that can be engaging and informative for 8th graders. These books not only provide new information and perspectives, but also help to build critical thinking and analytical skills. By incorporating these books into a learning environment, students can gain a deeper understanding of the world around them and engage with issues that are important to them. So, encourage your 8th grader to explore these non-fiction options and see where their curiosity takes them.
Graphic Novels and Manga for 8th Grade Readers
8th grade is a great time to get your teen interested in graphic novels and manga. These books are a unique mix of art and story, making them entertaining and engaging for readers of all levels. Below are five recommended graphic novels and manga for 8th-grade readers.
1. “March” by John Lewis – This trilogy is a graphic novel memoir of Congressman John Lewis’s experiences in the Civil Rights Movement. The story is powerful and inspiring, and the art is stunning. This book is a great way to learn about history and politics while also enjoying a good story.
2. “Nimona” by Noelle Stevenson – In this graphic novel, a young shapeshifter named Nimona teams up with a supervillain to take down a corrupt government. The story is funny, heartwarming, and action-packed, with lovable characters and witty dialogue.
3. “Astro Boy” by Osamu Tezuka – This classic manga series follows the adventures of a robot boy who is created by a scientist to replace his deceased son. Astro Boy has to navigate a world that is often hostile to robots, and he must use his powers to fight injustice and protect his friends. This series is a must-read for any manga fan.
4. “Sandman” by Neil Gaiman – This graphic novel series is a dark and twisted fantasy epic that follows Morpheus, the lord of dreams, as he navigates the realm of the unconscious. The art is moody and atmospheric, and the stories are complex and thought-provoking. This series is a great introduction to the genre of graphic novel horror.
5. “One Piece” by Eiichiro Oda – This long-running manga series is a swashbuckling adventure story about a young pirate named Monkey D. Luffy and his crew as they search for the ultimate treasure. The art is colorful and lively, and the story is full of humor, action, and heart. This series is a great choice for readers who love epic stories and unforgettable characters.