Favorite Books For 8th Graders

Kaffir Boy: The True Story of a Black Youth’s Coming to Age in Apartheid South Africa 

by: Mark Mathabane – (Macmillan, 1986) 368 pages.

The book: Kaffir Boy is an autobiography written by Mark Mathabane. In this book, Mathabane tells his own story in South Africa and how they all suffered from Apartheid. The story reflects the real struggle of the writer and his people at that time. There were poverty, cruelty, ignorance, and discrimination, and no one could stop them. Kids, including Mathabane, were not able to live their lives properly due to these circumstances. This book is an amazing one that portrays the obstacles and struggles the author, and his people faced. 

Perfect for: Kids who are interested in learning about real people.


by: Rainbow Rowell – (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013) 448 pages.

The book: Fangirl is a coming-of-age story about a girl named Cather Avery in her first year of college. Like many other girls, Cath is very anxious and nervous about starting the year now that her twin sister won’t be around as much. She is also worried about her widowed father, who has bipolar disorder, and how he’ll live properly without the twins. To ease her anxiety, Cath resorts to writing fan fiction. This helped her escape this dull, scary world. The book explores the idea of making new friends and relationships with people. 

Perfect for: Teenagers who like stories about life’s challenges.


by: Veronica Roth – (Katherine Tegen Books, 2011)

In the book: Beatrice is an ordinary girl but her society is definitely not! The ones in control divided the society into five factions and it was up to the people to decide whom they want to spend the rest of their life with. Beatrice is now 16 years old and it’s up to her to decide whether she’d stay in her faction with her friends and family or choose another one. She undergoes a daunting yet wonderful adventure where she discovers that she’s not just an ordinary girl after all. 

Perfect for: Teens who like action and dystopian stories.

The Fault in Our Stars 

by: John Green – (Penguin Books, 2014) 336 pages.

The book: The book focuses on the bittersweet love story of Hazel and Augustus, two teenagers who met thanks to a cancer support group. They both suffer from cancer and don’t have much time left. However, this does not prevent them from having the perfect love story. The book brings tears and joy to the reader at the same time. It received a lot of praise and has been a huge success. 

Perfect for: Teenagers who like tear-jerker stories.

If I Stay  

by Gayle Forman – (Speak, 2010) 320 pages.

In the book: Mia is a 17-year-old girl who is in a coma. She and her family had a horrible accident where all of them died except Mia; she was the only survivor. Mia is telling her story from her bed in the hospital while being stuck between life and death. She does not remember the accident; she only remembers the aftermath. With Her being the only survivor, Mia is left with nothing but pain, grief, and confusion. One day she realizes that her decisions in her out-of-body state connect to her decisions in real life. It’s now up to Mia to choose whether she’d like to live with the pain of losing all of her family members or die and reconnect with them. The writer sheds light on the real struggle of the teenager and the importance of choosing the right decision. 

Perfect for: Teenagers who like thought-provoking stories.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower 

by: Stephen Chbosky – (MTV Books, 2012) 224 pages.

The book: The story revolves around Charlie, a high school boy, and his growing-up journey. His world turn upside down when his closest friend dies of suicide. Charlie tells his story through a series of letters addressed to an anonymous friend. Being shy, naive, and an introvert makes life harder for Charlie. Luckily, he befriends Patrick and his stepsister Sam who tries to change Charlie’s life from its current state to a better one. 

Perfect for: Teenagers who like emotional stories of adolescence.

The Namesake 

by: Jhumpa Lahiri – (Mariner Books, 2004) 291 pages.

The book: An Indian married couple immigrates to America. They give birth to two children, Sonia and Gogol. Throughout the story, Gogol struggles with his identity and sense of belonging. He starts to resent his culture with its traditions and customs. Later on, he begins to understand his parents and his culture.  He accepts his Indian name and starts to find himself and the identity that he lost a long time ago. The story sheds light on the theme of an identity crisis. 


If you’re interested in watching the movie based on this story, the adaptation of 2007 would be the best for you.

Perfect for: Teens interested in exploring cultures and traditions.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series 

by: Douglas Adams – (Harmony Books, 1979) 224 pages.

The book: The book is about the story of Arthur Dent, who is the only survivor after the Earth was demolished by aliens. Luckily, he’s saved by his alien friend Ford. Ford takes Arthur with him to space. Together, they explore outer space. Throughout the story, they meet lots of different, odd creatures. This series of books is one of a kind, and teens will absolutely love it! 

Would you like to watch the movie? Go for the 2005 adaptation. The movie stars Martin Freeman and Zooey Deschanel.

Perfect for: Teens who like humorous stories.

The Lord of the Rings series 

by: J.R.R. Tolkien – (Houghton Mifflin, 1954)

The book: The Lord of the rings is a marvelous epic fantasy series of books. It’s one of the best-selling books ever written. It received countless excellent reviews. The story is about the Dark Lord Sauron, who created one special ring to control all other rings of power given to elves, dwarfs, and men. It is the mission of the hobbits to keep the ring safe and later on destroy it to prevent evil. The series is suitable for all ages and especially teens. 

Perfect for: Teens who like heroic battles involving dwarves, elves, and orcs. 

Beyond Magenta 

by Susan Kuklin – (Candlewick, 2014) 192 pages.

The book: This is the real story of six teenagers who consider themselves transgender. Susan Kuklin, the writer, uses raw, unfiltered, and unedited words in telling their stories. They describe in detail how their society, family, and friends viewed them. They also describe their obstacles and struggles growing up. 

Perfect for: Teens interested in learning about gender identity issues.

Find Beyond Magenta at your local library.

Buddha Boy 

by: Kathe Koja – (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003) 128 pages.

The book: Buddha Boy is the nickname Jinsen got at school because he wears baggy T-shirts with dragons on them and because she shaves his head. However, Justin, Jinsen’s classmate, gets to know him closely during a school project. Justin respects Jinsen and starts becoming his close friend but befriending a freak makes you a freak as well! Justin is left to choose between his friend and his social status in school. The story focuses on the themes of appearances vs. reality, social status, and bullying. 

Perfect for: Teens who like moral stories related to practical life.

This One Summer 

by: Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by: Jillian Tamaki – (First Second, 2014) 320 pages.

The book: A fun summer full of adventures on the beach is exactly what Rose was hoping for. Every summer, she visits their lake house with her mom and dad, and they have lots of fun. However, this summer is very different. Several unpleasant incidents happen, such as her parents fighting. Rose and her friend Wendy try to escape this drama by doing something different and new, but the story takes another turn.

Perfect for: Teens who like Graphic novels about adolescence.

To Kill a Mockingbird 

by Harper Lee – (Grand Central Publishing, 1988) 384 pages.

The book: This book was a huge success once it was published. The Writer could easily convey the themes throughout the book with a simple yet powerful story. The story is about a father who has two kids, Scout and Jem. The kids undergo a journey from innocence to experience. They face various incidents and events that open their eyes to the reality of their world. The writer sheds light on the themes of injustice, prejudice, racism, and the coexistence of good and evil. 

Perfect for: Teens knowing the difference between right and wrong.

Gulliver’s Travels 

by: Jonathan Swift – (Dover Publications, 1996) 240 pages.

The book: Gulliver’s Travels is a masterpiece written by Jonathan Swift. The story is about Gulliver, a ship’s surgeon who travels to different places and goes on lots of adventures. One day, the ship is destroyed due to a storm. Luckily, Gulliver, the only survivor, manages to get to an island, but because he is tired of this incident, he falls asleep. When he wakes up, he finds himself captured by tiny people. Later on, he discovers that there are many of them and different animals and creatures that are also very small. The inhabitants take good care of Gulliver by feeding him and providing him with a place to live. In return, Gulliver fought with their army against enemies. In the end, the protagonist manages to go to his beloved home, England. The book is very entertaining and amusing. 

Perfect for: Youngsters interested in traveling and exploring cultures.

Black Boy 

by: Richard Wright – (Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2007) 448 pages.

The book: Richard Wright’s book, Black Boy, is one of the greatest books of all time. It is one of the few books that portray the reality of African Americans in the 19th century. The book shows how they truly suffered just because they were different. The author sheds light on the themes of ignorance and racial discrimination. Through the author’s personal experience of poverty, abuse, and racial discrimination at a young age, Wright succeeds in showing the struggles of African Americans. The reader was able to live the author’s life by reading his story. This is a very significant and powerful book. It was controversial at first, but now it is respected and appreciated.

Perfect for: Youngsters who like stories about life’s challenges.

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