Eighth-grade Literature Books

Mr. Curiosity wanted to read more literature this year. I’ve chosen books for American History Club that he might never have picked on his own, but he loved them. I think he wants more of the same. That’s a good thing, since we’re moving into a time in school when a student might be expected to read some of the classics. The question becomes, what books should we read? I’m looking for older books that many kids would read in middle school. (Newer books are easier to pick off the library shelf.) I’ve found a couple of options.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee was an obvious first choice for us. It may be a bit deep for all eighth graders, but we’ve spent months practicing the play. Mr. Curiosity read it before we started the play, so he could catch more of the nuances. For those of you who haven’t read it (I never did until I was an adult), it’s about a black man being falsely accused of attacking a white woman and the town’s reaction to the situation. The topic of the book is still appropriate these days, and it helped open Mr. Curiosity’s eyes to some race conflicts.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton is the next book we’re going to read. It’s used quite often in middle schools, and I’ve read many reviews about how the readers loved the characters in the book. Again, I don’t think I ever had the opportunity to read the book in school (what did I read in middle school? I can’t remember). I’m looking forward to reading it alongside Mr. Curiosity. It looks like the book shows life as a teenager fifty years ago. Styles and slang might change, but growing up and relationships don’t.

Another commonly suggested book is The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare. This was one of my favorite books as a kid. It’s set in colonial America during the witchcraft scare, so a bit farther back in American history than the first two books. It probably would make a great American History Club book, but I’m not sure it’s really up Mr. Curiosity’s alley. However, he’s surprised me in the past by enjoying some well-written books that are more about relationships than action. We’ll see. I think I’ll wait a bit, though, until Miss Adventure can read it with us as well.

If I wanted to go classic science fiction book, we could read either Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, about a future America where all books are suspect and therefore burned whenever found, or Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, about a society where people are engineered to fit in their place. Both show a scary world that is still completely possible, even though the books were written decades ago. I can still remember bits of Brave New World (which I did read in school) more than 20 years after reading it. Obviously, it made an impression.

I think I want to do a few short stories as well, but that is a topic for another post. Anyone remember a good book they read in middle school? Are your kids reading something good? If so, give me some more suggestions in the comments.

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