Eighth graders are awesome. Complicated, but awesome. Some days, they’re ready for high school. They want to discuss more grown-up concepts, and they wonder (and worry!) about the world around them. Other times, they’re still very much the children we met at the start of the school year. They want to laugh and play and be silly. That’s why we’re excited to share this list of new books for 8th graders with you. Many of them deal with the complex ideas and struggles your students are facing in their own lives and seeing in the world. Others are fun adventures, full of laughs and silliness. We know you’re going to find more than a few to add to your classroom library or next book talk.
(Just a heads up, WeAreTeachers may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. We only recommend items our team loves!)
1. The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna
The first in an action-packed fantasy trilogy, this novel has it all: A fierce, female protagonist faced with tremendous challenges as she chooses to leave everything she knows behind to join an elite army of young women like her. A unique setting and plot to hook even the most reluctant reader. And the promise of a great story being carried over into two more novels. It’s the perfect novel to share with your class to introduce them to a new genre and author.
Buy it: The Gilded Ones at Amazon
2. Freestyle: A Graphic Novel by Gale Galligan
Many of our students struggle to balance their extracurricular activities with their schoolwork and social lives. Cory, the main character in this graphic novel, is dealing with the same issues. His dance team is practicing for their final competition before high school, his parents are on him to improve his grades, and the tutor they hired can do absolutely amazing tricks with a yo-yo that Cory wants to learn. How will he balance all of his interests and responsibilities? This is one of the fun, relatable books for 8th graders that’s perfect for reluctant readers.
Buy it: Freestyle: A Graphic Novel at Amazon
3. We Are Not Free by by Traci Chee
One of the most powerful aspects of historical fiction is its ability to help us connect to important events from the past. In this award-winning novel, your students will be introduced to 14 teens. They are Nisei—second-generation Japanese Americans—whose lives are turned upside down when they and their families are taken from their homes and placed in an internment camp during World War II. This would make a powerful addition to any discussion or learning unit about this period in American history.
Buy it: We Are Not Free at Amazon
4. Glimpsed by G.F. Miller
Everyone loves a good twist on a story we’ve all heard before, and this novel does it with style. Charity, the main character, is a fairy godmother. That’s right, she can grant wishes! And she does, until everything starts to go wrong and she has to work together with Noah, a classmate who is less than thrilled with her wish-giving talents. Part fantasy, part rom-com, and all fun, your students will be absolutely charmed with this one.
Buy it: Glimpsed at Amazon
5. The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Perfect for our students who love puzzles, brain-teasers, and riddles. When Tobias Hawthorne dies, he leaves his entire fortune to Avery Grambs, a high schooler who has never even heard of Hawthorne. The only catch? She must move into his sprawling and mysterious mansion filled with secret passages and the furious relatives who thought they would be the ones to inherit the mysterious billionaire’s fortune. Avery will have to use all of her wits to solve the riddle of why Hawthorne chose her before it’s too late.
Buy it: The Inheritance Games at Amazon
6. Home Is Not a Country by Safia Elhillo
Nima is a first-generation immigrant. She feels caught between the Islamic world she grew up in and the post-9/11 suburban world where she’s now living. As she tries to get through each day, she grapples with the question of what home means to someone like her.
Buy it: Home Is Not a Country at Amazon
7. Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon
Some 8th graders are ready for a fun, lighthearted romance, and this one is just the ticket. It’s not too surprising that 17-year-old Evie Thomas is disillusioned by love. She has the unique ability to see how all relationships will eventually break up, after all. But when she finds herself learning to fox-trot, waltz, and tango with an adventurous boy named X, she begins to wonder if she has made up her mind about love too soon.
Buy it: Instructions for Dancing by Amazon
8. Before Takeoff by Adi Alsaid
James and Michelle meet in the Atlanta airport during a layover. They discover a bright-green blinking button, and they push it. What could possibly go wrong? Snowstorms in Terminal B, a jungle in Terminal C, and earthquakes splitting the group are just a few of the Jumanji-esque adventures that follow as these two teens try to find their families and end the chaos before it’s too late.
Buy it: Before Takeoff at Amazon
9. The First to Die at the End by Adam Silvera
The prequel to the award-winning They Both Die at the End, this novel follows two young men as they come to grips with a new technology that has just become available. Death-Cast, as it’s called, can accurately tell you when you will die. In fact, it will give you a polite phone call on the day it’s going to happen. Both young men sign up for the service, but on the first day only one receives the call. The rest of the novel follows them as they decide to spend that last day together. Heartbreaking and uplifting, the story celebrates that life is worth living to it’s fullest.
Buy it: The First to Die at the End at Amazon
10. I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys
Have any history buffs in your classroom? Hand them this historical-fiction novel and let them learn about a time and place they’ve probably never thought of before. Seventeen-year-old Cristian Florescu wants to become a writer, but in Romania in 1989, his chances of becoming one are slim. Because of the tyrannical dictatorship of his country’s leader, Nicolae Ceaușescu, Romanians are not free to follow their dreams. Blackmailed by the secret police to become an informer, Cristian is left with only two choices: betray his loved ones and his country, or use his position to creatively undermine the dictator who’s destroying everything he believes in.
Buy it: I Must Betray You at Amazon
11. Take Me With You When You Go by David Levithan and Jennifer Niven
Fifteen-year-old Ezra wakes up to find his 18-year-old sister, Bea, gone. She’s left no clues to where she has gone except for an email address, hidden someplace only Ezra would find. As Ezra reaches out to Bea via email, the two attempt to piece together their fractured family.
Buy it: Take Me With You When You Go at Amazon
12. One of the Good Ones by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite
When her sister is killed mysteriously at a social justice rally, Happi and her family are left reeling. As the community turns her sister into a martyr in the fight against police brutality, Happi wonders why only some people are deemed “worthy” of idealizing in this way. Her search for answers into what really happened and, ultimately, who her sister truly was will change everything Happi thought she knew about prejudice, sisterhood, and what it truly means to be an ally.
Buy it: One of the Good Ones at Amazon
13. These Deadly Games by Diana Urban
Perfect for your students who have already seen all the scary movies and love anything dark and spooky. Protagonist Crystal decides to try out a new app only to wind up playing a game she can’t walk away from. An anonymous kidnapper has her younger sister, and if Crystal wants her to stay alive, she’ll have to do the tasks the kidnapper requests of her. They seem harmless enough at first—baking brownies, making a prank call, stealing a test—but she quickly realizes that they all are targeting people in Crystal’s group of friends. The kidnapper knows something about the group’s past and wants to use Crystal to take their revenge.
Buy it: These Deadly Games at Amazon
14. One for All by Lillie Lainoff
A swashbuckling reimagining of The Three Musketeers, this story introduces students to Tania, a girl who refuses to let an illness that leaves her feeling dizzy all the time slow her down. She wants to be strong, independent, and a good fighter, just like her father was. He was a former Musketeer, and his dying wish was for Tania to attend finishing school. When she arrives at school, however, she realizes it’s not just a finishing school but a secret training academy for young Musketeers. It’s an exciting novel with a unique protagonist that will capture your students’ hearts and imaginations.
Buy it: One for All at Amazon
15. Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert
One of the great books for 8th graders as they prepare to head to high school, this story is about two students who used to be friends until high school life got in the way. Bradley and Celine were inseparable in middle school, but in high school Bradley become Mr. Popular and suddenly Celine wasn’t cool enough to hang out with anymore. The two are thrown together again when they both sign up for a survival course in the woods. Will they be able to overcome their past to work together on the adventure or has too much time passed?
Buy it: Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute at Amazon
16. The Island by Natasha Preston
For all of our students who think they’re going to be the next big social media influencer, this thriller is ready to show them that it might not be all it’s cracked up to be. The story follows six teen influencers who are invited to tour a private island theme park and resort before it opens. When they arrive, everything is perfect. The hotel is luxurious and the rides are intense, but they soon discover that the only thing not on the itinerary is them leaving the island. Ever.
Buy it: The Island at Amazon
17. Gabe in the After by Shannon Doleski
Two years after a global pandemic, a group of children have relocated to a small island off the coast of Maine where they live together in a large mansion. There, they have school, grow their own food, and search the shore every day for other survivors. When Gabe finds Relle alone in the woods, he brings her back to the mansion, but he isn’t quite sure what to make of her. She is hopeful and optimistic and breathes life and laughter into the sad home the children have created for themselves. She encourages all of them to not give up on believing that there are more survivors—and maybe even a normal life—out there somewhere.
Buy it: Gabe in the After at Amazon
18. Muddle School by Dave Whamond
One of the perfect graphic novels for 8th graders when they’ve had a bad day, a terrible week, or just need a good laugh. Dave had high hopes for his new middle school, but then everything went wrong. He’s about to give up and accept that he’s just going to spend middle school as a dork, but then he gets an idea: He’ll build a time machine for the school science fair, travel back to the first day of middle school, and redo all the embarrassing mistakes he made. This is a great book for 8th graders to relate to.
Buy it: Muddle School at Amazon
19. The Girls I’ve Been by Tess Sharpe
During a visit to the bank, 18-year-old Nora O’Malley finds herself in a hostage situation alongside her girlfriend and ex-boyfriend. To help everyone survive, she taps into the various personas she developed as the child of a con artist.
Buy it: The Girls I’ve Been at Amazon
20. The Lake by Natasha Preston
Esme and Kayla were 8-year-old campers at Camp Pine Lake when something terrible happened, and they both swore never to tell anyone about it ever. Nine years later, they’re back at Camp Pine Lake as counselors-in-training … and the secret they’ve kept for all these years is coming back to haunt them.
Buy it: The Lake at Amazon
21. The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass
As if life as one of the only Black students in a predominantly white prep school weren’t tough enough, Jake Livingston can also see dead people. Most of them are harmless, and he doesn’t mind helping them settle their affairs so they can move on. But one powerful, vengeful ghost has plans for Jake, and he has to hope that he can escape the ghost’s clutches.
Buy it: The Taking of Jake Livingston at Amazon
22. Lightlark by Alex Aster
Every 100 years, the island of Lightlark appears to host the Centennial, a deadly game that only the rulers of six realms are invited to play. The Centennial offers the six rulers one final chance to break the curses that have plagued their realms for centuries. Each ruler has something to hide. Each realm’s curse is uniquely wicked. To destroy the curses, one ruler must die. One of the perfect fantasy books for 8th graders who have already read The Hunger Games, Divergent, and all the other dystopian fantasy you could find for them!
Buy it: Lightlark at Amazon
23. Hotel Magnifique by Emily J. Taylor
Orphaned sisters 17-year-old Jani and 13-year-old Zosa find themselves suddenly employed at the Hotel Magnifique after most of their childhood was spent barely scraping by. Not only is the hotel magnificent, but it’s staffed by magicians who move the hotel to a new location, anywhere in the world, every midnight. Of course, things are almost never what they seem, and when Jani decides it’s time for her and Zosa to leave the hotel, she learns that the hotel might not be ready to let them leave. Ever.
Buy it: Hotel Magnifique at Amazon
24. Kings of B’more by R. Eric Thomas
When he finds out that his best friend, Linus, is moving the summer before their junior year, Harrison can’t believe it. They were supposed to do all the important stuff together—standardized testing, applying for college, everything. With the countdown to Linus leaving looming, Harrison decides to embark on one last adventure together with his best friend. From their very first Pride festival to a rooftop dance party, the two vow to do everything that scares them—even saying goodbye to someone they love.
Buy it: Kings of B’more at Amazon
25. Does My Body Offend You? by Mayra Cuevas and Marie Marquardt
Neither Malena nor Ruby expected to be the leaders of the school’s dress code rebellion. But the girls will have to face their own insecurities, biases, and privileges, and the ups and downs in their newfound friendship, if they want to stand up for their ideals and, ultimately, for themselves.
Buy it: Does My Body Offend You? at Amazon