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10 Wonderful and Unknown Children’s Books for 8 Year Old Boys

Jo Ward itcherEight year old boys are a tricky audience. Those that like reading will have firm ideas about what they want to read, and those that don’t take some convincing that it might be fun. The key is to find a book they are hooked in by. Here are some books for kids age 8 which might do just that, from classics like ‘The Battle of Bubble and Squeak’ to newer gems like ‘Fortunately, the Milk.’ ~ Jo Ward

Read? Why?

Many eight year old boys I know are capable of reading well, but they don’t find reading a particularly stimulating activity. What you need to find is the book that draws them in and allows them to lose themselves between the pages. You have to cater, of course, for a range of interests and abilities but in general, a great book will catch the attention of most children. Most of my list is made up of older books which have disappeared off the radar slightly, but which shouldn’t be allowed to slide into obscurity. Try these children’s books for 8 year old boys and see what you think.

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10. ‘The Animals of Farthing Wood’ (Colin Dann, 1979)

Image Source: IMDB

“We must face the facts,” Toad cried. “Farthing Wood is finished; in another couple of years it won’t even exist. We must all find a new home. Now – before it’s too late!”

Some people may remember the cartoon based on this book for young children. Don’t be deceived – the book is aimed at an older audience (both content and language) so you may want to check it out first, but a good reader should enjoy it.

The animals living in Farthing Wood are in danger – the wood is due to be destroyed. Their only hope is to band together and make an epic journey to somewhere called White Deer Park. Can those who are usually enemies put aside their differences to work together and ensure they all survive.

A young person’s ‘Watership Down’, this is a lovely story, but not without gore, and is also accurate in details of the countryside.

Friendship and loyalty override instinct on an incredible journey.

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9. ‘Mr Majeika’ (Humphrey Carpenter, 1985)

Image Source: Beitshvidler

“Mr Potter was still fiddling with the closing doors, so he didn’t see what was happening. But Class Three did. One of the big windows in the classroom slid open all by itself, and something flew in. It was a man on a magic carpet…”

For a less confident reader, this is a brilliant book. Imagine if your teacher was magic. Class 3 are stunned when their teacher arrives, not through the door, but through the window in a flying carpet. Mr Majeika also has a novel way of dealing with the class nuisance – he turns him to a frog. Which would be funny, but Mr Majeika can’t remember how to turn him back again….

This isn’t a classic in that the language is a bit simple and a bit repetitive, but that is exactly why it is great for a child who finds reading a struggle. The story is fun, and they should be able to read it alone which will develop their confidence.

School life is never going to be dull if your teacher is a wizard!

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8. ‘The Story of Stars’ (Neal Layton, 2013)

Image Source: QBD

In my experience, kids like to know things so I’ve included a reference book in my books for eight year olds.

Easy to read, this is a pop-up guide to the stars and galaxies. From thousands of years ago to the present day, this is accessible and fun with fun illustrations – ideal to dip into or to read all in one sitting.

Want to know more about the stars that you see in the sky? Here’s the place to start finding out.

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7. ‘Daggie Dogfoot’ (Dick King Smith, 1987)

Image Source: Zodml

“To his amazement, he began to move forward through the water after the duck, at first slowly, then faster as he gained momentum and confidence, and finally so fast that before they reached the far bank he was level with her and they touched bottom together in a little reedy inlet…”

Dick King Smith was a prolific children’s author. His best known work is probably ‘The Sheep-Pig’ on which the Hollywood movie ‘Babe’ was based. So I’ve picked another of his brilliant books.

In a litter of piglets there is often a runt, or a dag. In this particular litter, the runt had a foot more like a dog’s paw than a pig’s hoof. Escaping from the Pigman, who intends to dispatch him, he is feted as a hero on his return to his mother, and growing up, he explores his world. He soon discovers his unusual front feet allow him to do things that most pigs can’t – swim, for example. And this skill leads him into a dramatic situation.

Daggie’s feet seem at first to be a weakness, but they turn out to be his greatest strength.

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6. ‘The Boy Next Door’ (Enid Blyton, 1944)

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““Listen,” said Kit in a low voice. “If it’s anybody snooping round, don’t give me away. I shall have to pretend to be dumb, because anybody knows I’m an American boy as soon as I open my mouth. I can’t talk the way you do. And so if anyone…” He stopped short and stared between the trees. He had seen something moving there. Someone was walking on the bank!”

The summer holiday look set to be exciting when Kit, an American boy, moves in next door. But the people who are looking after him say he’s not there. Why? When they make friends with Kit, he reveals that he is in hiding as there is a plot to kidnap him. When some Americans appear in the village and start asking questions, the children step in to help their new friend.

An almost unknown work by Blyton but one of her best. It’s a stand-alone book rather than part of a series and is a great adventure story. It’s also suitable for a less confident reader.

Mystery, intrigue and adventure – what would you do if someone tried to kidnap the boy next door?

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5. ‘Fortunately, the Milk’ (Neil Gaiman, 2013)

Image Source: First Draft Cafe

“Spoons are excellent. Sort of like forks, only not as stabby.”

Mum’s away and Dad’s in charge. So naturally, there’s no milk for breakfast in the morning. Dad pops out to the corner shop to get some, and takes an inordinately long time to get back. Why? Well, he was abducted by aliens of course, and in escaping from them he lands in the ocean where he meets up with pirates…..

This is a whimsical but very funny story, featuring some brilliant characters and the best reasons for being late ever!

You thought popping out to the shops was a quick errand? Think again…

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4. ‘The Battle of Bubble and Squeak’ (Philippa Pearce, 1978)

Image Source: Fantastic Fiction

““It’s no use your trying to hide them! I saw them!” cried Mrs Sparrow. “Rats!” “No,” said Sid. “Gerbils.” “Don’t you contradict me at three in the morning,” said Mrs Sparrow. “They’re smelly little rats. Where’ve they come from?””

Bubble and Squeak are two gerbils, and while Sid, Peggy and Amy adore them, their mother does not. She says the Gerbils Have To Go! And so starts a battle in the Sparrow house, each side determined to win through and the children’s gentle step-father caught in the middle. And then, into the fray, sallies Ginger the cat…

Philippa Pearce has to be one of the top children’s authors ever, but she has been eclipsed of late and deserves a return to the spotlight. This is a fun place to start.

 
When Mum says no and Dad is non-committal, how do you hang onto your pets?

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3. ‘You’re a Bad Man, Mr Gum’ (Andy Stanton, 2006)

Image Source: Goodreads

“He would much rather hear a piano being demolished by illegal bulldozers than a Mozart concerto…”

The star of this book is Mr Gum, a man who doesn’t like children, and picks his nose and eats it! Mr Gum is on a mission to keep his garden tidy, or the bad-tempered fairy who lives in his bath will smack him with a frying pan. But his mission is thwarted by Jake, a dog who gets in and wreaks havoc. Mr Gum decides that Jake must be poisoned.

Fear not, Polly and Friday are on hand to foil his plans. This book is funny, and engaging with a suitably disgusting villain. Even better, it’s the start of a series so if catches your reader’s attention, there are follow ups to keep it!

What kind of man wants to poison dogs? Mr Gum, that’s who, and Polly and Friday will need to act fast to stop him.

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2. ‘A Boy and a Bear in a Boat’ (Dave Shelton, 2012)

Image Source: Amazon

“The boy shivered. The bear sniffed the air. “What do you smell now?” said the boy. “Danger!” said the bear. The boy looked alarmed. The bear sniffed again. “Or maybe marmalade,” said the bear. The boy gave him a dubious stare. “Possibly both,” said the bear…”

A kind of ‘Life of Pi’ for kids! Why are they on the boat? Mainly to get to the other side. What’s on the other side? Who knows. Why is a bear steering the boat? Not a clue. It is largely a book about isolation, and relationships. And yet to say not much happens massively misrepresents the book. They withstand massive storms, fight off sea monsters, and since this is a British book, they eat sandwiches and drink tea.

I suspect this is a marmite book. Some will love it, the quirkiness of it and it’s philosophical nature. Others will deplore the lack of direction in the plot. If you have a reluctant reader, maybe this is one to try yourself before giving it to them.

Sail off into the sunset and trust to Captain Bear that you’ll get where you want to go.

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1. ‘Stig of the Dump’ (Clive King, 1963)

Image Source: Amazon

“He lay quiet and looked around the cave again. Now that his eyes were used to it he could see further into the dark part of the cave. There was somebody there! Or something! Something, or Somebody, had a lot of shaggy black hair and two bright black eyes that were looking very hard at Barney. “Hello!” said Barney…”

Eight year old Barney loves to wander off by himself. Then one day, he wanders into a chalk pit, and finds a cave-man he names Stig. Although Stig can only communicate in grunts, the two become friends. Together, they renovate Stig’s cave – Stig turns out to be very inventive in his use of materials (very modern with the reduce reuse recycle message!). They also see off some burglars and help recapture a leopard.

The language is a little old-fashioned but the adventures are perfect for an eight year old boy – this is a children’s classic for a reason.

Finding your own secret caveman can only be a recipe for fun and adventure.

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Engaged Eight Year Olds.

I enlisted the help of several eight year old boys for this, and together we put together a list of books with a range of styles and from a range of genres. We hope there’s something here for everyone.

What do you think?

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