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The best books for 8-year-olds to encourage a love of reading

Whether your child is an avid bookworm or a reluctant reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best books for eight-year-olds that they won’t want to put down.

By Jenny Wonnacott | Last updated Dec 20, 2023

A good story fires up your imagination, makes you laugh and cry, and has you rooting for the characters so much that you want to devour every word in one sitting. By the age of eight, most children can read, so finding a book that’s the right interest and reading level for them can really help them to enjoy books (although all of these books will appeal to other ages as well!)

Reading can do so much for a child - from gaining better comprehension skills to improving vocabulary, teaching empathy and boosting confidence. Much like the best family board games, a good book will stimulate imagination and encourage deep thinking as well.

With such a huge variety of children’s books on offer, finding one that your child will actually want to read can be tricky, so we’ve done the hard work for you. To make sure we included stories covering different interests, we scoured the Mumsnet forums to see which books children (and parents!) loved the most. We then cross-checked these titles on other expert review sites to make sure they lived up to the hype. Many are also available to download on the best tablet for kids, which can be a great option for holidays.

Here’s our list of 17 of the best books for 8-year-olds.

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The best books for 8-year-olds: at a glance

Best book to encourage reluctant readers: The 13-Storey Treehouse (Treehouse series)

Price on writing: £5 | Buy it now from Amazon

Key specs

Interest age: 7+ | Reading age: 6+ | Length: 256 pages

What Mumsnet users say

“It's zany and wacky and fun and a riot for the imagination with a dash of humour. It's also easy to read with lots of fun pics which makes it engaging for the age group.” (Recommended by Mumsnetter fabulousspider)

Our verdict

Similar to Diary of a Wimpy Kid, the Treehouse series intersperse comic-style illustrations with a fun, easy-read story told from the perspective of author Andy Griffiths and illustrator Terry Denton. Marketed at a slightly younger reading level than most books in this guide, The 13-Storey Treehouse and its follow up books are perfect for kids who are getting into chapter books but aren't quite ready for the likes of Harry Potter yet. You'll be buying the full-set in no time!

Best Roald Dahl book for 8-year-olds: Matilda

Price on writing: £4 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Interest age: 7+ | Reading age: 8-9 | Length: 256 pages

What Mumsnet users say

“When my daughter was younger, she loved Roald Dahl’s Matilda.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user LoveSummerLife)

Our verdict

Even with today’s vast choice of bestselling children’s authors, Roald Dahl books are still a household favourite, and both parents and children love the story of Matilda. 

The book was first published in 1988 telling the tale of Matilda Wormwood - a gifted little girl who uses magical powers to punish the cruel adults around her. Thanks in part to the recent release of the film based on Matilda: The Musical, this book has become a timeless classic.

Read next: On the hunt for tech toys? Our guide to the best laptops for kids and best kids' headphones have you covered.

Related: Are you on the lookout for a new tablet for you or your kids? We recently reviewed the popular Samsung Galaxy A8 Tab to see how it fared.

Best comic book for 8-year-olds: Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Price on writing: £4 | Buy it now from Amazon

Key specs

Interest age: 7+ | Reading age: 8-10 | Length: 224 pages

What Mumsnet users say

“My son (now eight) loves the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. We bought him a box set of 12.” (Recommended by Mumsnetter MontyBowJangles)

Our verdict

The bestselling Wimpy Kid graphic novels journals the life of Grey Heffley as he tackles issues children can relate to, such as bullying and friendship.

Made up of 50 percent pictures and 50 percent words, the diary entries are written in a child-friendly, fun language that is relatable and appealing to children, especially those who are slowly building confidence in their reading.

Read next: Looking for inspiration for younger children? Our guides to the best toys for 4-year-olds, best toys for 5-year-olds and best toys for 6-year-olds have you covered.

Best joke book for 8-year-olds: Awesome Jokes That Every 8-Year-Old Should Know!

Price on writing: £6 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Interest age: 6+ | Reading age: 6-10 | Length: 103 pages

What Mumsnet users say

“It's a good idea to try different types of material for him to read - comics, joke books, fact books. Sometimes books can be overwhelming, whereas other options can help encourage a child to engage.” (Advice from Mumsnet user Ickabog)

Our verdict

Reading is more than just novels and factual books. Introduce this joke book to your eight-year-old and they’ll have plenty of fun telling their family and friends their favourite gags.

With a mix of new and old jokes, this book will have children laughing out loud, as well as helping them to learn new vocabulary.

Related: Don't miss our guides to the best kids' camera and the top games console.

Best classic book for 8-year-olds: Charlotte’s Web

Price on writing: £7 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Interest age: 9-12 | Reading age: 6-9 | Length: 272 pages

What Mumsnet users say

“I’ve just read my son Charlotte’s Web - he loved it. It’s a really sweet book.” (Advice from Mumsnet user Whybirdwhy)

Our verdict

Another classic that has stood the test of time is Charlotte’s Web. A poignant tale of friendship and devotion, it was first published in 1952 and is still widely read today.

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Best Enid Blyton book for 8-year-olds: Magic Faraway Tree Collection

Price on writing: £8 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Interest age: 6+ | Reading age: 6-8 | Length: 656 pages (three books in collection)

What Mumsnet users say

“My eight-year-old is reading The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton.” (Advice from Mumsnet user MsWalterMitty)

Our verdict

You may remember reading these books yourself as a child. The story of Joe, Beth and Frannie and their adventures in the Enchanted Wood are still as magical today as they were when they were first published back in the 1940s.

Related: Don't miss our guides to the best kids' smartwatch and the top-rated phone for kids.

Best chapter book for 8-year-olds: The Danger Gang

Price on writing: £4 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Interest age: 6+ | Reading age: 7-11 | Length: 448 pages

What Mumsnet users say

“My son (just turned eight) enjoys the Tom Fletcher books (currently reading The Danger Gang).” (Recommended by Mumsnetter Usual2usual)

Our verdict

Following on from Tom Fletcher’s bestselling books The Christmasaurus and The Creakers, The Danger Gang has plenty of mystery and excitement to keep your child hooked. This is a fun illustrated book that children as young as six can also enjoy. (And speaking of younger children, check out our guide to the best toys for 7-year-olds for more inspiration.)

Best illustrated book for 8-year-olds: Pippi Longstocking

Price on writing : £4 | Buy now from WHSmith

Key specs

Interest age: 6+ | Reading age: 8+ | Length: 208 pages

What Mumsnet users say:

“My eight-year-old is really enjoying Pippi Longstocking.” (Recommended by Mumsnetter Oobedobe)

Our verdict

This delightful edition of the tale of Pippi Longstocking has been illustrated by Lauren Child, also known for her work on Charlie and Lola. A story that has been passed through the generations, children love reading about nine-year-old Pippi.

With super-human strength, fierce determination and a sense of fun, there’s nothing Pippi won’t do. Pippi’s a true heroine adored by both younger and older generations.

Related: Check out our guide to the best Nintendo Switch games for kids.

Best book collection for 8-year-olds: The Worst Witch

Price on writing: £14 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Interest age: 6+ | Reading age: 7+

What Mumsnet users say

“My three children loved The Worst Witch at the same age. They read the entire series as their school reading books. The language is very rich and varied compared to books written for the same age more recently.”  (Tried and tested by Mumsnetter HelenaJustina)

Our verdict

Before Harry Potter, there was Mildred Hubble. The Worst Witch series is all about life and lessons at a magical school, except that Mildred is far from a natural witch.

This eight-book set follows accident-prone Mildred as she stumbles through life at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches.

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Best book series for 8-year-olds: Mr Gum

Price on writing: £15 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Interest age: 5+ | Reading age: 6-11

What Mumsnet users say

“Mr Gum and the rest of the series. Hilarious, mind-bending at times (and just gross enough at times to be funny) but be warned you will have to stop now and again due to the giggles.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Willow2017)

Our verdict

For giggles at bedtime, look no further than the Mr Gum books. The bestselling series is all about a grumpy, horrid old man who hates children, animals, corn on the cob and anything remotely fun.

Related: Encourage learning and fun with the best online learning resources.

Best non-fiction book for 8-year-olds: Kay’s Anatomy Complete (and Completely Disgusting) Guide to the Human Body

Price on writing: From £6 | Buy now from Amazon

Key Specs

Interest age: 8-12 | Reading age: 8-12 | Length: 416 pages

What Mumsnet users say

“Non-fiction-wise, [My son] is devouring Kay’s Anatomy by Adam Kay. Hilarious and he’s learning loads.” (Recommended by Mumsnetter ElphabaTheGreen)

Our verdict

Informative, funny and easy to read, Kay’s Anatomy proves that non-fiction books are anything but boring. Comedian and writer Adam Kay previously worked as a junior doctor and has packed this book with loads of interesting facts about the body.

Covering topics like common diseases, DNA, bodily functions – yes, you can probably guess what that includes – and germs, Kay’s Anatomy can be disgusting at times but that makes it all the more appealing for eight-year-olds.

Best fantasy book for 8-year-olds: The Chronicles of Narnia

Price on writing: £11 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Interest age: 7+ | Reading age: 8+

What Mumsnet users say

“The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis? Some nice illustrations. Start with The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. They are best read in the order they were written in my opinion.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user MillicentMartha)

Our verdict

It’s time to open the wardrobe door and introduce your child to the magical land of Narnia. When siblings Lucy, Edmund, Peter and Susan find their way to the other side of the wardrobe, they embark on an exciting journey where their bravery is put to the test.

Full of magic and fantasy, this complete series of books is a must for kids of all ages.

Read next: Check out our guides to the best toys for 9-year-olds and top toys for 10-year-olds.

Best book to appeal to a wide-range of readers: Slime

Price on writing: £4 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Interest age: 7-12 | Reading age: 7-9 | Length: 320 pages

What Mumsnet users say

"My 8 year old really got into reading during all the lockdowns, her favourite collections have [included] most of the newer David Walliams books like Slime, Fing and Beast of Buckingham Palace." (Recommended by Mumsnet user carrietwick)

Our verdict

Now a household name more for his children’s books than his comedy sketches, David Walliams’ laugh-out-loud stories can make even the most reluctant reader want to pick up a book.

One of his more recent publications, Slime, is about an island called Mulch. The story follows an 11-year-old boy called Ned who discovers slime and he decides to use this special slime power as a weapon to take on the horrible adults in his life. A wonderfully illustrated book about bravery and the origins of slime - best of all, it appeals to a wide range of readers so is great option for a birthday gift or stocking filler for kids aged seven to 12.

Read next: Looking for more Mumsnet-approved gifts for kids? Don't miss our guide to the best lego sets.

Best reading book for eight-year-olds: The No.1 Car Spotter

Price on writing: £6 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Interest age: 6+ | Reading age: 6-9 | Length: 112 pages

What Mumsnet users say

“Special mention to this great little series called The No.1 Car Spotter (Atinuke) about a tiny Nigerian village - charming and diverse with wonderful characters.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user FixitUpChappie)

Our verdict

When he’s not doing his chores, running errands or helping his family, Oluwalase’s favourite hobby is car spotting. It’s the only hobby in the village and he is the best at it. Number one in fact.

If this book is a hit with your child, there’s five more in the series full of engaging tales about family life in Africa.

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Best friendship book for 8-year-olds: The Boy at the Back of the Class

Price on writing: £7 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Interest age: 7-11 | Reading age: 8-12 | Length: 320 pages

What Mumsnet users say

“My son really enjoyed the book The Boy at the Back of the Class and I’ve just ordered the sequel (The Day We Met The Queen).” (Recommended by Mumsnetter Hellosunshine2017)

Our verdict

A story of kindness and friendship, The Boy at the Back of the Class is about a nine-year-old boy called Ahmet, a refugee from Syria.

Told from a child’s perspective on the refugee crisis, the book teaches children about different backgrounds, kindness and how you should never judge people before you know them.

Related: Discover the best coding toys according to Mumsnet families.

Best magical book for 8-year-olds: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone

Price on writing: £4 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Interest age: 7+ | Reading age: 9+ | Length: 352 pages

What Mumsnet users say

“My son (eight) has just devoured the first two Harry Potter books.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user DownRightAmazing)

Our verdict

By now, your child will most likely have heard about the young wizard Harry Potter and may be itching to get started on the books. The language may be a bit advanced for most eight-year-olds to read independently, but it’s a great age to start reading the story together.

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Best mystery book for 8-year-olds: Anisha, Accidental Detective

Price on writing: £6 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Interest age: 6-11 | Reading age: 7-11 | Length: 224 pages

What Mumsnet users say

“Anisha Accidental Detective also has a strong female lead solving a mystery and some quite silly humour.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user GalacticDragonfly)

Our verdict

If your child likes detective books, Anisha, Accidental Detective will have them gripped and laughing out loud. 10-year-old Anisha is due to be a bridesmaid at her Aunty Bindi’s wedding, but a ransom note throws the plans into chaos. This is a real page-turner, with plenty of humour and mystery.

Read next: Read our review of the Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids and Kids Pro tablets here.

How long should an 8-year-old read daily?

The more a child reads, the more confident they will become. However, how long they should read will depend on their reading level and how much they enjoy reading.

Ideally, an eight-year-old should be reading for around 20 minutes a day, both out loud and independently. If they are reading a more challenging book, this will take longer and they may not read as many pages. Try to focus on making it run rather than a chore.

Read next: See if these Mumsnet-favourite family board games lived up to the hype with our reviews of Dobble and Carcassonne.

What should an 8-year-old be reading?

While most children will have learnt to read by now, each child progresses at a different rate. At this age, they will be building up their confidence and developing as a fluent reader.

An eight-year-old should expect to reach the following milestones:

  • Comprehension – understanding text and being able to summarise what they have read. This includes recognising humour in the story.

  • Reading independently – an eight-year-old will now be moving on to longer books, such as chapter books, with less illustrations.

  • Reading together – while they can read alone, it’s still important to read out loud, making sure they recognise different expressions.

  • Extend vocabulary – this means having a good understanding of spelling and using phonics, context and pictures to identify new words.

  • Understanding paragraphs – this includes recognising formatting, punctuation and the concept of paragraphs, and applying this knowledge in their own writing.

What is the best book for 8-year-olds?

Written by bestselling author David Walliams, Slime tells the tale of poor Ned who lives on a miserable island with his tormenting sister and awful adults, especially his Aunt Greta Greed.

What are the most popular authors for 8-year-olds?

It depends on your eight-year-old - some will love the light-hearted silliness of David Walliams and Jeff Kinney, others will prefer the more traditional storytelling vibes of E.B. White, Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton. And, of course, there are plenty of eight-year-olds who love to read non-fiction - which is where authors such as Adam Kay shine.

How we chose our recommendations

Most of our recommendations for books came from Mumsnet users themselves. We searched the Mumsnet forums for posts about which books Mumsnetters really rated. We also researched various review sites to find out which books performed well across the board.

About the author

Mum-of-two Gemma Wilcock has over 15 years of experience writing for print and online publications covering issues surrounding parenting, health and lifestyle, as well as researching and writing in-depth product reviews for Mumsnet.

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.