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Books for 8 - 9 Year Olds

Looking for great books for an 8- or 9-year-old?

There are some brilliant books for 8- and 9-year-olds around but it can be hard to find them among all the not-so-great books out there. On this page you'll find the tried-and-true books that are pretty much guaranteed to appeal to the eight- or nine-year-old boy or girl in your life.

flynn reading, books for 8 year oldsMy gorgeous nephew, Flynn

Some are new-ish books, others have been around for a while. All of them have been road-tested by my three children, my four nephews and by a host of other keen and not-so-keen readers.

In 2016, I spent a wonderful year teaching Year 3 students here in Australia. Of course, I took a great interest in the books the 8-9-year-olds in my classes were reading and I was struck by the very wide range of books being read by my students, many of whom have English as a second - or even third - language.

So I picked up some new book recommendations from my students and found out their favourites and the books they weren't very interested in.

Even if your child's not a great reader - or perhaps not a keen reader - the books I've reviewed are really worth a try. 

Of course, as always, if you have a younger child who's a keen reader, give these books a go. They also make great books to read aloud to younger children. Try them with 6-8 year olds and see how you go.

About 8 - 9-year-old Readers

By this age, many boys and girls do tend to have different tastes when it comes to reading.

With this in mind, I've compiled separate lists of books for boys and books for girls: best books for 8-9-year-old boys
best books for 8-9-year-old girls

Many eight-year-olds are quite capable readers. That's to say, the process of reading has become automatised (yes, it is a word!) for them to the point where it doesn't require too much effort. This is great because it means they can concentrate on the content of the story, rather than on the process of working out what all the individual words mean, which is really tiring and actually boring too.

Other eight-year-olds - and many nine-year-olds - still struggle with the reading process and so don't really find reading enjoyable.  This is not a problem in itself because different kids learn to read at very different rates. In fact, in many countries, reading isn't taught until after children turn seven.

little girl reading

The problem in countries like Australia, the US and the UK where we begin to teach kids to read from the age of about 5 is that they can begin to lose motivation after a year or so if they feel they're falling behind their classmates. Often this starts to happen around the age of 8 or 9. If a child hasn't "got it" by eight, he or she will often start to lose the motivation to read and it can turn into a bit of a downward spiral from there, so that the child becomes more and more reluctant to read.

If your child looks like they may be one of the strugglers, don't give up! Often the solution is as simple as finding the right book for that particular child at that point in time and - bang! - you'll have motivation in spades!

So how do you find the right book?

books on shelf

Finding Books for 8 - 9-year-olds

In my experience, it's mostly a matter of trial and error.

Remember too that, whether your child is a capable, confident independent reader or whether he or she struggles a bit with reading, reading aloud is still a really brilliant thing to do with eight-year-olds and nine-year-olds. 

Reading aloud to older kids has three main - and really huge - benefits: 

  • kids get to enjoy more sophisticated stories that they may not be able to read independently;
  • it takes the pressure off a struggling or reluctant reader and enables them to just focus on the story and their enjoyment of it; 
  • it's a fun thing to do together and strengthens the bond between you and your child;
  • it reinforces and strengthens a love or reading and books;

My last tip for this age group is that they love audio books.

If your kids haven't listened to audio books before, they're well worth a try, especially for long car trips. You can borrow them from most libraries on CD, buy them on CD or download them from itunes. Apart from the bonding thing, listening to audio books brings all the benefits of reading aloud.

Audio books are not a substitute for reading aloud to your child but they can be a great thing to introduce as part of your plan to raise a reader.

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