Books for an 8 year old boy?
December 5, 2013 7:22 AM   Subscribe

My knowledge of kids' books has an epic gap between "Where the Wild Things Are" and "Harry Potter". I want to buy a couple books for an 8 year old boy. His mom says, "He likes Geronimo Stilton and Flat Stanley; specifically books that mention Japan and/or ninjas." I know he likes Star Wars too. Any suggestions? Thanks!
posted by skycrashesdown to Shopping (26 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Stories for Eight-Year-Olds was a much-beloved gift book when I was that age-- no ninjas specifically, but it features a bunch of classic tales of high adventure in a variety of exotic milieux.
posted by Bardolph at 7:33 AM on December 5, 2013

Also, if he's not totally mouse-d out by now, the Redwall series is great for an adventure-oriented reader.
posted by Bardolph at 7:35 AM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]

Eight is a great age to step up the children's book game illustration-wise. They're old enough to appreciate more detail and enjoy some of the weirder, sometimes a little dark (as in, not all bright and cheery and light like many picture books) subject matter in the art. And those books also tend to have smaller lettering and a bit more robust writing, which an 8 year old can handle.

So anyway, along that line, I'd suggest just about anything Shaun Tan for something recent. Tales from Outer Suburbia is one title I remember off the top of my head.

I'd also recommend Graeme Base's the Eleventh Hour. Bonus for that one is that it's a mystery he can solve. I loved it as a kid.
posted by phunniemee at 7:35 AM on December 5, 2013

Best answer: I don't have first hand experience, but I know an 8 year old who loved the Catwings series.
posted by Empidonax at 7:36 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Oh, and this is also an EXCELLENT age to give the kid some Dahl. James and the Giant Peach or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are wonderful places to start. If you don't think he's ready for a longer chapter book yet, then go with The Fantastic Mr. Fox or The Twits.
posted by phunniemee at 7:46 AM on December 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

Redwall is WAY to hard for most 8 year olds -- that's a middle school reading level book!

If Geronimo Stilton is right at his reading level:
The Bone graphic novels are amazing.
The Secret of Droon
My Father's Dragon

If he's ready to move on to harder books... at 4th-5th grade reading level favorite series include: Gregor the Overlander, The Name of This Book is Secret, The Ranger's Apprentice, Percy Jackson.

Double-check the reading level of books people suggest -- you're looking for a book in the 3rd grade-level-equivalent range.
posted by LittleMy at 7:55 AM on December 5, 2013

The Magic Tree House series is great, and should be manageable for your son. The stories are very engaging, they teach good values, and as you get into the series an increasing number of the stories have historical settings that provide great cultural background knowledge for your young'un.
posted by alms at 8:02 AM on December 5, 2013 [5 favorites]

My son liked Nate the Great. Ask his mom if he's read those and/or likes them, as there are a bunch in that series so you could fill in with more.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:10 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Usagi Yojimbo checks all your boxes. They're terrific stories, beautifully drawn.
posted by firstdrop at 8:18 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

Recent favorites at our house:

Pretty much anything in the Dorling-Kindersley series, but for the purposes of this question, Lego Star Wars: The Visual Dictionary; Lego Play Book; and the Lego Ninjago Readers Pack (other Lego-themed readers are available).

The Bone books.

Captain Underpants!
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:51 AM on December 5, 2013

Double-check the reading level of books people suggest -- you're looking for a book in the 3rd grade-level-equivalent range.

Check the reading level of the kid. I began reading when I was 3-4 years old. By 8 I was definitely reading at a level a few years advanced.

As a young nerdy Fleebnork, I enjoyed the heck out of Encyclopedia Brown.
posted by Fleebnork at 9:16 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

The Book of Time series is great, as are the Bone comics mentioned upthread.

8 falls right on the cusp between "children" (5-8) and "tweens" (9-12), so I'd aim for the latter group.
posted by susanvance at 9:32 AM on December 5, 2013

My 8-year-old loves The Warriors series of books. They do seem to be very dense, though, with many different characters. My daughter is just enthralled with them, and it seems that most of the kids in her third-grade class love the series as well.
posted by Ostara at 9:33 AM on December 5, 2013 [4 favorites]

Holes by Louis Sachar

I second Dahl, but make sure you include Danny, The Champion of the World.

I'm including those because I loved them. Now I will tell you that my son LOVES the Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja books (like so many kids' books, they feature protagonists that are slightly older than the intended reader). I HATE THEM and reading them with him makes me wonder why I'm not writing children's books, but hey.
posted by peep at 9:34 AM on December 5, 2013

Came to mention My Father's Dragon, but see that LittleMy beat me, so I'll just add that you should get the trilogy (which is available in a single volume).
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 9:47 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]

+1 on the Usagi Yojimbo.

Also, take a look at the "The Adventures of Tintin".

posted by sandpine at 10:44 AM on December 5, 2013

Best answer: Beverly Cleary's Mitch and Amy and her Henry Huggins, Ralph Mouse, Leigh Botts and Otis Spofford books. The Ramona ones too if he's ok reading about girls.

Paula Danziger's Matthew books.

Homer Price
posted by brujita at 10:57 AM on December 5, 2013

I had a hard time finding things for my son to read at that age. He liked the following series:

How to Train Your Dragon
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Butt books by Andy Griffiths
Captain Underpants, previously mentioned.

None are what I'd consider classics, but they kept him loving to read.
posted by Requiax at 11:23 AM on December 5, 2013

+1 on Warriors series. My 8yo is hooked. There are upwards of 30 books too.

Also agree the Redwall books are extremely advanced for 8yo, however, interestingly the Warriors books are a manufactured series* plotted by an editor and written by a few main writers and they selected the author name Erin Hunter in part because the Warriors books would be shelved near the Redwall books with the author's last name of Jacques.

*Manufactured series no way implies lesser quality in this case.
posted by RoadScholar at 12:23 PM on December 5, 2013

The Phantom Tollbooth!
posted by kiwi-epitome at 12:31 PM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]

Tom Angleberger has an awesome series featuring origami Star Wars characters: Origami Yoda, Darth Paper, Fortune Wookie, Jabba the Puppet and Princess Labelmaker. The actual characters are middle school kids who fold these characters and they come with instructions.
posted by soelo at 12:58 PM on December 5, 2013

My boy is 8, and he loves the following:

1) The Amulet Series by Kabu Kizuishi

2) Old school Uncle Scrooge

3) The adventures of Asterix

They are all visually delightful; the latter two are much older and less concerned with the good-bad struggle, being more goofy and completely ungrounded in reality, while the first is more serious in tone, but without reaching the level of preachiness found in much of today's children's entertainment.

Gary Larson and Calvin and Hobbes are also big favorites.

Nthing the Bone series (which he also loves).
posted by subajestad at 1:41 PM on December 5, 2013

Big Nate.
posted by MonkeyToes at 1:43 PM on December 5, 2013

Best answer: My son ( ok, and me) loves the Dragonbreath series by Ursula Vernon. The second book involves ninja frogs. Funny, action, entertaining.
posted by redrowan at 3:01 PM on December 5, 2013

Seconding the Beverly Cleary books and Homer Price.

Also The Great Brain books, the Soup books, and maybe the Hardy Boys too.
posted by SisterHavana at 10:53 PM on December 5, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone, for the great answers! I wound up getting the first Dragonbreath book and "Fantastic Mr. Fox" but I also carried "The Mouse and the Motorcycle" around the store for a long time, and would have gotten "Catwings" if they'd had it.
posted by skycrashesdown at 5:01 AM on December 6, 2013

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