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16 best books for 8-year-olds

Whether your child is a little 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 Gemma Wilcock | Last updated Nov 24, 2021

Girl reading book

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.

Reading has many benefits too, so it’s a really important skill to learn - children can gain better comprehension skills, improve their vocabulary, learn empathy skills and gain confidence from reading a book. 

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. 

So here’s our list of 16 best books for eight-year-olds. Whether your child loves fantasy novels or telling jokes, they won’t be able to put these books down.

1. Best overall book for 8-year-olds: Slime by David Walliams

Slime by David Walliams

Price: £5.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“My DD loves David Walliams and has ben reading [his books] since age seven. The Boy in the Dress was the first one she read, and Gangsta Granny.” Cuppaand2biscuits

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 has lived on the island all his life, surrounded by some horrible grown-ups. He’s tormented by his horrid older sister, Jemima, and his Aunt Greta Greed (the owner of the island) absolutely hates children.

Then, Ned discovers slime and he decides to use this special slime power as a weapon to take on the adults. A wonderfully illustrated book about bravery and the origins of slime - what more could an eight-year-old want?

Need to know

  • Interest age: 7-12
  • Reading age: 7-9

2. Best comic book for 8-year-olds: Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball by Jeff Kinney

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball

Price: £4  | Buy it now from Amazon

“My DS (now eight, but seven at Christmas) loves the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. We bought him a box set of 12.” MontyBowJangles

The fourteenth book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series is all about house renovations. The bestselling graphic novel journals the life of Grey Heffley as he tackles issues children can relate to, such as bullying and friendship. 

In Wrecking Ball, Greg’s family come into some inheritance and they decide to use the money to do some much-needed improvements on their home - but as anyone who has ever done renovations knows, it’s never plain sailing!

As the building work unearths toxic mould and critters, Greg journals it all. 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.

Need to know

  • Interest age: 7+
  • Reading age: 8-12

3. Best joke book for 8-year-olds: Awesome Jokes That Every 8-Year-Old Should Know! By Mat Waugh

Awesome Jokes that every 8-year-old Should Know!

Price: £4.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“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.” Ickabog

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.

You can look forward to hearing punchlines such as ‘What says ‘Oh, Oh, Oh!’? Santa walking backwards!’ and ‘Where do whales get weighed? At a whale-weigh station!’

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. 

Need to know

  • Interest age: 6+
  • Reading age: 6-10

4. Best Roald Dahl book for 8-year-olds: Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matilda by Roald Dahl

Price: £4.36 | Buy now from Amazon

“When [DD] was younger, she loved Roald Dahl’s Matilda.” LoveSummerLife

“Would Roald Dahl interest her? DD loved Matilda.” HPandTheNeverEndingBedtime

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. Although she is a gifted little girl who loves books, Matilda’s parents are distant and cruel and her headmistress Miss Trunchbull is a horrible bully. They do their best to make Matilda’s life miserable, but her magical powers soon shine through. 

With the support of her friends and her kind teacher Miss Honey, Matilda is determined to teach all the horrible adults a valuable lesson.

Need to know

  • Interest age: 7+
  • Reading age: 8-9

5. Best classic book for 8-year-olds: Charlotte’s Web by E.B White

Charlotte's Web book

Price: £5.94 | Buy now from Amazon

“Charlotte’s Web.” Baboutheocelot 

“I’ve just read [DS] Charlotte’s Web - he loved it. It’s a really sweet book.”Whybirdwhy

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.

The story centres around a pig named Wilbur and his friend Charlotte, a large grey spider. When Wilbur is sold to slaughter, Charlotte hatches a plan to save his life. Using her web-weaving skills, she writes messages about her friend in her web to give him the best chance of survival. 

Need to know

  • Interest age: 6+
  • Reading age: 7+

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

Magic Faraway Tree Collection

Price: £8.19 | Buy now from Amazon 

“The Magic Faraway Tree collection and The Worst Witch were also favourites.” cliffdiver

“My eight-year-old is reading The Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton.” MsWalterMitty 

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.

When the three siblings move to the countryside, they discover the Faraway Tree in the woods near their house and they embark on an amazing adventure to magical lands. This collection book includes the three original novels which follow the children on their journey to different worlds, meeting elves, fairies, pixies and new creatures along the way.

Need to know

  • Interest age: 6+
  • Reading age: 6-8

7. Best chapter book for 8-year-olds: The Danger Gang by Tom Fletcher

The Danger Gang book

Price: £4 | Buy now from Amazon

“DS (just turned eight) enjoys the Tom Fletcher books (currently reading The Danger Gang).” Usual2usual

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. 

When Franky moves to a new town, he’s sad to leave behind his best friend, Dani. The story is told through his letters to her, telling Dani all about his new school, friends and life in the town called Freaky. Although everything seems normal at first - despite the town’s name - a freak storm hits and mysterious changes start to happen to the children in his street.

Determined to investigate the strange events, Franky and his friends form The Danger Gang. This is a fun illustrated book that children as young as six can also enjoy.

Need to know

  • Interest age: 6+
  • Reading age: 7-11

8. Best illustrated book for 8-year-olds: Pippi Longstocking By Astrid Linindgren

Pippi Longstocking

Price: £14.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“My eight-year-old is really enjoying Pippi Longstocking.” Oobedobe

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

Her adventures begin when she moves into Villa Villekulla with a horse, a monkey and a suitcase of coins. While the grown-ups expect Pippi to behave in a certain way, she has much more fun going on incredible adventures with her friends, Tommy and Annika. 

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. 

Need to know

  • Interest age: 6+
  • Reading age: 8+

9. Best book collection for 8-year-olds: The Worst Witch by Jill Murphy

The Worst Witch

Price: £14.94 | Buy now from Amazon

“DC3 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.” HelenaJustina

“My eight-year-old struggles to read independently but we're currently reading her The Worst Witch before bed and she's really enjoying it.” EvilOnion

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 Mildred as she stumbles through life at Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches, crashing her broomstick, casting the wrong spells and getting on the wrong side of her strict potions teacher, Miss Hardbroom. Thankfully, she has her best friends Maud Spellbody and Enid Nightshade to help her along the way. 

Mildred is a loveable character and children will enjoy reading these fun stories about her mishaps at school.

Need to know

  • Interest age: 6+
  • Reading age: 7+

10. Best book series for 8-year-olds: Mr Gum by Andy Stanton

Mr Gum books

Price: £24.99 | Buy now from Amazon

“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.” Willow2017

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. 

Written by the award-winning author Andy Stanton, the books have been compared to The League of Gentlemen for kids. Characters include an angry fairy, Jake the dog, and a little girl called Polly, as well as many other interesting personalities, including a dancing bear and goblins.

The first book in the series, You’re a Bad Man, Mr Gum!, will have parents well and truly laughing along too.

Need to know

  • Interest age: 5+
  • Reading age: 6-11

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

Kay's Anatomy

Price: £5 | Buy now from Amazon

“Non-fiction-wise, [DS is] devouring Kay’s Anatomy by Adam Kay. Hilarious and he’s learning loads.” ElphabaTheGreen 

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.

With fun illustrations and a hilarious tone – expect plenty of toilet humour too – Kay makes learning about the body so fun that even parents will find it fascinating! The book answers questions about why your tummy rumbles and what causes pins and needles. 

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.  

Need to know

  • Interest age: 8-12
  • Reading age: 8-12

12. Best fantasy book for 8-year-olds: The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis

The Chronicles of Narnia

Price: £14.23 | Buy now from Amazon

“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 IMO.” MillicentMartha 

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. 

Narnia is frozen and covered in snow thanks to the evil enchantment of the White Witch. On their journey, the brothers and sisters meet talking animals and magical creatures who are living under the witch’s spell, including the brave lion Aslan and kind Mr Tumnus. In a battle between good and evil, they help their new friends to defeat the horrible witch. 

Full of magic and fantasy, this complete series of books follows the siblings as they grow up and will have children eager to read the next instalment.

Need to know

  • Interest age: 7+
  • Reading age: 8+

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

The Number 1 Car Spotter

Price: £5.25 | Buy now from Amazon

“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.” FixitUpChappie

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.

Oluwalase is a hard worker too - carrying yams from the field, assisting Mama Coca-Cola to serve her delicious fried akara and helping his grandmother to get treatment. Smart and resourceful, Oluwalase is the one to save the day whenever anyone gets into trouble. 

So, when his family’s car breaks down, he hatches a plan to make sure they can get the goods to the market. 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.

Need to know

  • Interest age: 6+
  • Reading age: 6-9

14. Best friendship book for 8-year-olds: The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q Raúf

The Boy at the Back of the Class

Price: £4 | Buy now from Amazon

“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).” Hellosunshine2017

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. 

When Ahmet joins a new school, a group of friends try to get to know him. At first, he seems different to them, but when they learn about the war he has fled and how he has been separated from his family, the friends want to help him, so they come up with a daring plan.

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. 

Need to know

  • Interest age: 7-11
  • Reading age: 8-12

15. Best magical book for 8-year-olds: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling

Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone

Price: £4.50 | Buy now from Amazon

“DS (eight) has just devoured the first two Harry Potter books.” DownRightAmazing 

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.

The first book in the hugely successful series by J.K Rowling starts with Harry living in his horrid auntie and uncle’s cupboard under the stairs. On his eleventh birthday, Harry is invited to attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and he enters the exciting world of magic.

As Harry learns how to become a wizard, he makes some new friends who help him uncover a secret within the school and learn more about his past. 

Need to know

  • Interest age: 7+
  • Reading age: 9+

16. Best mystery book for 8-year-olds: Anisha, Accidental Detective by Serena Patel

Anisha, Accidental Detective

Price: £5.35 | Buy now from Amazon

“Anisha Accidental Detective also has a strong female lead solving a mystery and some quite silly humour.” GalacticDragonfly 

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. 

The note says Bindi’s groom, Uncle Tony, has been kidnapped and they won’t release him until the wedding is cancelled. Using her skills of logic and observation, Anisha embarks on a mission to find Uncle Tony in time for the wedding, and solve the mystery of his kidnapping. 

Anisha does this with the help of her best friend Milo, Granny Jas, a runaway lobster and a kitten-loving giant. This is a real page-turner, with plenty of humour and mystery. 

Need to know

  • Interest age: 6-11
  • Reading age: 7-11

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. 

Obviously, if they enjoy it, you can encourage them to read for longer, but if they struggle with reading, try to focus on making it fun and keep it to around 15 to 20 minutes a day. Over time, they will build up stamina and the confidence to read for longer periods. 

Reading milestones for 8-year-olds

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. 

When Ned discovers slime, he decides to use this special power to take on the horrid adults. A wonderfully illustrated story about bravery and slime, we think this is the best book for eight-year-olds.

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.

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.