Being an eight year old is a wonderful time of life. Not quite a grown-up, not quite a full child anymore, I believe all eight year olds need to have great books to accompany their lives. The reason I’ve chosen to share some books for eight-year-olds is simple. By this time, they’re pretty much done with all the easy readers, ready for something a little bit more challenging (and interesting!), but not quite ready for long books, ones with big words, or ones that take a long time to get into.
Age eight is a fun time of life. For all you children out there, I hope you’ll find some lifetime friends in the books below (I know I did when I was your age)!
Note: The first ten books, especially, have Christian themes in them.
1. Sarah Whitcher’s Story | Best for: Ages 5 – 10
Sarah’s family live in the new, sparsely-populated state of New Hampshire. Pa and Ma have a great faith in God, and they teach their children to love and honor God as well. Then one day, four-year-old Sarah wanders into the great forest, and gets lost. When she doesn’t appear on call, the family gets desperate—and soon all the neighboring men come to help search for the little girl. With all kinds of wild animals in the woods, hungry and alone, Sarah could easily die. Pa has faith that the Lord will direct them to where his daughter is, but as two days pass people begin to give up the search—she could be anywhere, or even dead by now. Then, a stranger comes, saying he’s had a dream of a little lost girl, and knows where she is. Has Pa’s faith in God paid off? Will the family get their sister and daughter back? With so many wild animals around, will she be safe? This is a true story, written so well that even adults will enjoy it. I loved the strong Christian themes of hope and faith through the story!
2. Mountain Born (and A Place for Peter) | Best for: Ages 5 – 10
These two books are both about Peter, the first when he was a young boy, and the last when he was a young man. Mountain Born tells about Peter’s love for an orphaned lamb, and how he raises it to be the leader of the flock. Along the way, Old Benj teaches him about how to care for a flock—and, while learning to be a leader, Peter also learns what it means to be a follower. Through different experiences, Peter grows from an inexperienced boy into a more mature young man.
Then, in A Place for Peter, Peter—now a young man—longs to gain his father’s approval. His mother is suddenly called away to help her sick brother, and Peter must step in to do the jobs his mother usually does—such as tending the garden and making maple syrup. Peter is determined to make his mother proud, showing both her and his father that he can be trusted. Through these stories, Peter learns valuable lessons on responsibility, God’s love, and what it means to be a man. These books are beautiful in that, while they’re definitely Christian, they aren’t “in-your-face”. Peter learns some wonderful lessons, but they aren’t presented in an unbelievable way. Peter’s life is one that many children will be able to identify with—and will not forget easily!
3. Catching Their Talk in a Box | Best for: Ages 5 – 10
In my opinion, every Christian book list ought to have at least one missionary story in it. Aside from the missionary aspect, this book is a great encouragement and a wonderful introduction to Christian principles. Joy Ridderhof was raised in a God-fearing family, and as a young adult, she met the Lord. From that day on His will was the focus of her life. She went to serve as a missionary in Central America. After a bout of sickness, she was forced to return to the US. Her illness continued, but she still wanted to do something for the Lord. Then she realized how little literature and other Christian material in Spanish was available for the fledgling churches.
In order to help and encourage the churches, she decided to make records of portions of the Bible, Bible stories, short sermons, and songs. With these “talking boxes”, she along with several friends traveled through many different areas, sharing the gospel message with all they met. Joy’s life work brought many to Christ, and this book captures a little bit of her zeal and faith in a way that even the youngest children can understand and appreciate. And even though I’m a older child, this book is still fascinating and well worth a read.
4. In Grandma’s Attic | Best for: Ages 5 – 12
This book has to be one of my most favorite stories from childhood ever. Mabel and Sarah Jane get into many different forms of trouble, and learn some great lessons because of it. At one time, they try wearing hoop skirts to church—not a good idea if you’ve never worn them before! Mabel also loses a horse and buggy, we learn how Ma wore her aprons, and how Mabel herself got lost one winter night, among many other funny and thought-provoking stories. Mabel’s family had a firm faith in God, and that shows up time after time through the book. I believe all children will love these stories, and girls especially will enjoy them.
5. The Journeyman | Best for: Ages 8 – 15
Jared Austin always had an artist’s flair, but with a harsh home life he is never able to share his talent with anyone. Since birth, his father, Eben Austin, has thought of him only as a curse, and now as a young man he feels hopeless of ever finding a way to gain his father’s approval. Then, a traveling painter comes by, and even though he’s never held much for art, Eben shows kindness to the man. That evening, the stranger notices Jared’s talent as he tries to keep his sisters quiet for the grown-up’s sake. After observing Jared’s home life, the journeyman asks Eben if he could take the boy as an apprentice. Will life finally look up for Jared? Can he follow his dreams? This is a lovely story about a boy in New England, showing his commitment to God even when things got tough. It also tells the story of the year 1816, when late frosts destroyed crops and snow fell every month of the year. This is a beautiful story that both adults and children will love.
6. The Window in the Wall | Best for: Ages 5 – 10
Imagine the fall of Jericho—from the perspective of someone inside the walls. This is the story that Ginny Merritt has told. Talia lives with her family inside the great city of Jericho, helping her father in the fields, watching her brother, and enjoying the company of her family. Then strangers from the army of Israel visit her aunt Rahab—and the Israelites are drawing nearer and nearer to the city each day. The Israelite’s God has been fighting for them so far—is there any hope that the city will be saved? This is a beautifully written story, and brilliantly shows what life might have been like before the Israelites came. A wonderful addition to any Bible study of that time, especially one involving young children (this book is definitely geared toward young ears).
7. Markie and the Hammond Cousins (the Hammond Cousins series, book 1) | Best for: Ages 5 – 12
The Hammond cousins face a challenge when their cousin Markie and his family move into the area. Markie has Down Syndrome, and they aren’t sure how to make him feel at home—they’re not even certain they want to admit to their friends that he’s a relative! Can the Hammond cousins learn to love and care for Markie? Will they be able to get past his problems, and accept him as he is? This is a great book for introducing Down Syndrome to children, and is a very clean read.
8. Ricky and the Hammond Cousins (the Hammond Cousins series, book 2) | Best for: Ages 5 – 12
The second book in the Hammond cousins series, in this story the cousins are faced with an even bigger challenge than before: Ricky, Uncle Jerry’s son. Due to his parent’s lifestyle at the time he was born, Ricky has problems with ADHD, and can’t keep still for anything. He is also very rebellious. Is there any hope that with love and good care Ricky can turn out to be a happy, obedient boy? Can the Hammond cousins learn to love him—even when he is nasty? This is a great book for introducing ADHD to children, and also shares some valuable examples of obedience to parents through the story. This story is a very clean read.
9. Granny Han’s Breakfast | Best for: Ages 5 – 10
Granny Han is a missionary in China, and she has a problem. She needs $1000 for upcoming meetings. God did provide that amount already, but it came after the banks had closed for the weekend, and while she was gone to another meeting the money was stolen. With time running out, will God provide the amount needed? Granny Han believes he will. This is a beautiful story of faith and relying on God, one that has been and will be a favorite for our family for years to come.
10. Year of the Black Pony | Best for: Ages 8 – 15
It’s a good thing CDs don’t wear out very fast, because my brothers have used our audio version of this story hard—listening to it 10 or more times over the course of the year or two since we first got it. Chris’s father has died, and the family must find a way to continue working their ranch. But money is scarce—and it soon becomes apparent that a twelve-year-old boy, his mother, and eight-year-old sister cannot keep a farm going on their own. Chris’s mother decides the best way to keep the family together and on the land they love would be to marry a local rancher, Mr. Chase. Will the family ever feel like a real family again? With tensions in the home, can Chris ever have a happy family—or get the horse he wants? This is a wonderful boy’s story—although girls will love it too!—and has some beautiful thoughts throughout the book. The ending is very sweet, as well.
11. Twenty and Ten | Best for: Ages 5 – 12
Sister Gabriel is taking care of twenty children outside a remote village, hoping to keep them safe until the war is over. Then, she and the children are asked to take in ten Jewish children. After weighing the risks, they decide to do it. Then, one day, Sister Gabriel does not come back from her usual walk into town for food and news. Instead, the children spot two Nazi soldiers coming up the road. What can they do now? How can they protect the Jewish children, and keep them safe until the Nazis leave? This is a beautiful story, and would be great for introducing World War II to children.
12. Number the Stars | Best for: Ages 7 – 12
Annemarie and her family must hide her friend, Ellen—who is a Jew—from the Nazi soldiers. With the streets becoming more dangerous each day, how long do they have before the Nazis find out they are harboring the girl? Then, early one morning, the Nazis come. Will they find out the truth? What will happen to Ellen if they discover her true identity? This is a thrilling adventure, one that I loved as a girl and still really enjoy.
13. The Wheel on the School | Best for: Ages 5 – 12
This story is one of Mom’s all-time favorites. The school children of the Dutch fishing village named Shora realize that even though other villages get storks, they do not! Storks used to come, but now with few trees in the town and no wheels on anyone’s roof, the storks fly right on over. They decide to find a wheel, in the hope that storks will once again come to live with them. But where is an old wagon wheel to be found? Everyone always repairs their wheels when they break, and if they can’t repair them they generally aren’t fit to hold storks, either! Will they be able to track a wheel down before the stork season is over?
I think Meindert DeJong’s strong point is characters. The Wheel on the School is crammed full of fun, fascinating characters. Besides a delightful story, this book is rich in the people and ways of Dutch fishing villages.
14. Mary on Horseback | Best for: Ages 7 – 10
Mary Breckinridge, who founded Frontier Nursing Service, was a fascinating woman. After her two children—as well as her second husband—died, she decided to become a nurse so others could live. Through these three stories, we get to see her in action, and learn what it meant to be a nurse in the Appalachian mountains. This is a great story to introduce nursing to children.
15. Sticks Across the Chimney | Best for: Ages 7 – 12
This story quickly captured my brother’s attention, and they begged for it even during the times Mom was supposed to be reading other stories for school. It follows the adventures of Siri and Erik, two siblings, who want to go to the Spring Fair. Even though what they make has not won the chance to go through the school competition, they decide to take their handicrafts anyway, and try to sell them. This sets off a chain of events that eventually brings Grandfather, an archaeologist, to their farm to dig up a mysterious mound that everyone in the nearby village believes is haunted. Will their family finally be able to support themselves? This story is very simple, but quite sweet—and would be useful for teaching about Vikings, archaeology, Denmark, or Scandinavia.
16. Follow My Leader | Best for: Ages 5 – 10
Jimmy Carter’s world is turned upside down when a firecracker accidently explodes in his face and he is permanently blinded. Through his lengthy recovery, he wonders if he’ll ever be able to lead a normal life again. He must learn many new things—Braille, how to use a white cane, and—most importantly of all—how to care for and use a guide dog in the place of his eyes. Will he ever be able to participate in the things he used to do? And, more importantly, can he forgive the boy who—unintentionally—threw the firecracker his way? This is a beautiful story of love, forgiveness, and learning to live with blindness. It is a great way to share the topic of blindness with children.
Question: Were any of these a part of your childhood? If you made a list of books for eight-year-olds, what titles would you include?