Fiction books for 8-10-year-olds can be a ton of fun for kids to read as well as the whole family. Teaching literature to kids is something that I love and do online through Outschool. One of my favorite parts about this job is reading and selecting books each year for 8-10-year-olds. It’s important to me that I find a variety of protagonists, genres, and themes.
This list of fiction books for 8-10-year-olds was compiled after two years of teaching monthly fiction book clubs online. Each of these titles lends itself to teaching a specific literary device, though each title can be used to teach several different aspects of literature.
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Books for Teaching 8-10-Year-Olds
Late elementary school is a great age for sharing stories and books with your kids or students. There is such a variety of literature available to spark their interest in reading. These are some of my favorite books over the last two years that have sparked great discussions in my Outschool book clubs.
You can also have a great book discussion with your children at home. I designed these discussion questions so you could use them for a wonderful discussion of any book. There is no need to discuss all of the questions, but pick a few of the most interesting based on the book titles that you read. Download your copy for free:
2022-2023 Fiction Books for 8-10-Year-Olds
The first nine books on this list were chosen for my 2022-2023 Middle School Monthly Fiction Book Club on Outschool. Each month we’ll discuss one of these titles in a live discussion format. These are great books to teach in late elementary school because they lend themselves well to teaching particular literary elements. I select a literary element each month to focus on each month to make sure the learners are exposed to a variety of literary elements all year long.
Literary Element: Story Arc
My Review: Nick loves to liven things up with his great ideas, but this year his 5th-grade teacher is the no-nonsense Mrs. Granger. Of course, this doesn’t stop Nick from trying some of his old tricks. After a particularly interesting class discussion about words, Nick decided to create a new word for pen and he calls it a Frindle. Will his word take off or will Mrs. Granger shut down all of the excitement before Frindle has a chance to catch on?
My children have all read and adored this book for years, but I never took the time to read it until this summer, and it is an absolutely delightful read. I enjoyed the spirit of the main character, Nick, as well as his “nemesis,” Mrs. Granger. Of course, the best part of this book was the delightful plot twist at the end, which proved to be a source of much discussion with my online book club students.
Julieta and the Diamond Enigma
Luisana Duarte Armendariz
Literary Focus: Elements of a Mystery
My Review: Julieta is off to Paris with her dad to collect art pieces for a new exhibit at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. Julieta has a wonderful time soaking in the sites of Paris for a while, but things don’t continue to work out as planned. Everything gets complicated when she and her Dad walk in on a thief stealing a priceless diamond that was supposed to return to Boston with them for the collection. Will they catch the thief and will her father keep his job? Julieta is determined that they will!
This is a fun mystery book for older elementary school children without any scary or potentially frightening situations – no kidnapping or injury, etc. Adults will catch on pretty quickly, but the mystery for younger readers will most likely unfold with Julieta. Between the excitement of travel, the mystery of the diamond, and the arrival of a new baby brother, there is plenty of fun in this story.
Because of Winn Dixie
Literary Element: Theme
Publisher’s Description: “One summer’s day, ten-year-old India Opal Buloni goes down to the local supermarket for some groceries—and comes home with a dog. But Winn-Dixie is no ordinary dog. It’s because of Winn-Dixie that Opal begins to make friends. And it’s because of Winn-Dixie that she finally dares to ask her father about her mother, who left when Opal was three. In fact, as Opal admits, just about everything that happens that summer is because of Winn-Dixie. This updated edition of Kate DiCamillo’s classic novel invites readers to make themselves at home—whether they’re experiencing the book for the first time or returning to an old favorite.”
The Dragonet Prophecy
Tui T. Sutherland
Literary Element: Character Traits
Publisher’s Description: “Clay and his friends have grown up under a mountain, secretly raised by the Talons of Peace to fulfill a mysterious prophecy. The five young dragons are destined to end the war that’s been raging between the tribes of Pyrrhia — but how they’ll do this, none of them knows. But not every dragonet wants a destiny. When one of their own is threatened, Clay and his friends decide to escape. Maybe they can break free and end the war at the same time — or maybe they’ll risk everything …”
Literary Element: Free Verse Poetry
Publisher’s Description: “Meet Odder, the Queen of Play:
Nobody has her moves.
She doesn’t just swim to the bottom,
She doesn’t just somersault,
She doesn’t just ride the waves,
she makes them.
Odder spends her days off the coast of central California, practicing her underwater acrobatics and spinning the quirky stories for which she’s known. She’s a fearless daredevil, curious to a fault. But when Odder comes face-to-face with a hungry great white shark, her life takes a dramatic turn, one that will challenge everything she believes about herself―and about the humans who hope to save her.
Inspired by the true story of a Monterey Bay Aquarium program that pairs orphaned otter pups with surrogate mothers, this poignant and humorous tale told in free verse examines bravery and healing through the eyes of one of nature’s most beloved and charming animals.”
Where the Mountain Meets the Moon
Literary Element: Framed Story/Story in a Story
Publisher’s Description: “In the valley of Fruitless mountain, a young girl named Minli lives in a ramshackle hut with her parents. In the evenings, her father regales her with old folktales of the Jade Dragon and the Old Man on the Moon, who knows the answers to all of life’s questions. Inspired by these stories, Minli sets off on an extraordinary journey to find the Old Man on the Moon to ask him how she can change her family’s fortune. She encounters an assorted cast of characters and magical creatures along the way, including a dragon who accompanies her on her quest for the ultimate answer.”
Mr. Popper’s Penguins
Literary Element: Setting
Publisher’s Description: “The Poppers unexpectedly come into possession of a penguin, then get a penguin from the zoo who mates with the first penguin to have 10 baby penguins. Before long, something must be done before they eat the Poppers out of house and home!
A classic of American humor, this story of a gentle housepainter and his high-stepping penguins has delighted children for generations.
By The Great Horn Spoon
Literary Focus: Elements of Historical Fiction
Publisher’s Description: “When Jack’s aunt is forced to sell her beloved mansion but is still unable to raise enough money to pay her debts, the twelve-year-old goes to California in search of gold to help her. Joined by his trusty butler, Praiseworthy, Jack finds adventure and trouble at every turn. Will Jack strike gold in San Francisco or come home empty-handed?”
Literary Element: Narration and Point of View
Publisher’s Description: “Chase’s memory just went out the window. Chase doesn’t remember falling off the roof. He doesn’t remember hitting his head. He doesn’t, in fact, remember anything. He wakes up in a hospital room and suddenly has to learn his whole life all over again . . . starting with his own name. He knows he’s Chase. But who is Chase? When he gets back to school, he sees that different kids have very different reactions to his return. Some kids treat him like a hero. Some kids are clearly afraid of him. One girl, in particular, is so angry with him that she pours her frozen yogurt on his head the first chance she gets. Pretty soon, it’s not only a question of who Chase is–it’s a question of who he was . . . and who he’s going to be.”
2021-2022 Fiction Books For 8-10-Year-Olds
The following books on this list were chosen for my 2021-2022 Monthly Fiction Book Club for 8-10-year-olds. The following books are fantastic titles to teach in late elementary school because they lend themselves well to teaching particular literary elements. You can select a literary element to focus on each month to make sure the learners are exposed to a variety of literary elements all year long.
Literary Element: Elements of a Mystery
Publisher’s Description: “When Alice’s Aunt Polly, the Pie Queen of Ipswitch, passes away, she takes with her the secret to her world-famous pie-crust recipe. Or does she? In her will, Polly leaves the recipe to her extraordinarily fat, remarkably disagreeable cat, Lardo . . . and then leaves Lardo in the care of Alice. Suddenly, the whole town is wondering how you leave a recipe to a cat. Everyone wants to be the next big pie-contest winner, and it’s making them pie-crazy. It’s up to Alice and her friend Charlie to put the pieces together and discover the not-so-secret recipe for happiness: Friendship. Family. And the pleasure of doing something for the right reason.”
Adventures with Waffles
Literary Element: Setting
Publisher Description: “Hardly a day passes without Trille and Lena inventing some kind of adventure that often ends in trouble. Whether it’s coaxing a cow onto a boat or sledding down the steepest and iciest hill with a chicken, there is always a thrill—and sometimes an injury—to be had. Trille loves to share everything with Lena, even Auntie Granny’s waffles. But when Lena has to move away and Auntie Granny leaves the world, it sometimes seems like nothing will ever be right again. The warmth of friendship and the support of family suffuse this lightly illustrated novel, proving that when times are tough, a little taste of sweetness can make all the difference.”
Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
Literary Element: Plot Arc
Publisher’s Description: “A hidden book. A found cipher. A game begins . . . .
Twelve-year-old Emily is on the move again. Her family is relocating to San Francisco, home of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger, a game where books are hidden all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles. But Emily soon learns that Griswold has been attacked and is in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold and leads to a valuable prize. But there are others on the hunt for this book, and Emily and James must race to solve the puzzles Griswold left behind before Griswold’s attackers make them their next target. “
Literary Element: Setting
My Review: Nim and her father, Jack, live together on a secret island. Jack is a scientist and decides to leave Nim on the island alone for a few days while he travels to study plankton. Nim is content to do her daily chores, play with her animal friends, and talk to her father nightly at their planned time.
Of course, things don’t go as smoothly as planned and plenty of adventures ensue, including a volcanic eruption and an ongoing correspondence with her favorite author of adventure stories.
I enjoyed this book more than I anticipated. I have never seen the movie so the entire storyline was new to me. Nim was a delightful, innocent character who had plenty of fun on the island. Her animal friends never communicate directly with her as “talking animals” in the story, but they are a fun part of her adventures.
I think elementary school children would enjoy this book and as a bonus, could watch the movie after reading!
The Lemonade Wars
Literary Element: Conflict
Publisher’s Description: “Join Evan Treski and his sister, Jessie as they battle it out for the best Lemonade Stand sales. Of course, the real battle behind The Lemonade War is about much more than lemonade sales and eventually, Evan and Jessie are going to have to talk about their feelings. In the meantime, it’s game on when it comes to lemonade sales!
This story was a fun read with my own kids and then again years later with my online book club for kids. There are so many options for a great discussion when you are reading a book with siblings in the middle of a heated battle. I enjoy some of the subtle creative writing aspects such as the chapter titles, which are all business concepts and definitions that apply to the events in the chapter. It’s a fun read for kids, though I was surprised how many were really annoyed by the dramatic fighting.
The Prairie Thief
Literary Focus: Elements of Magical Realism
My Review: Louisa Brody’s Pa has been accused of being a thief, but she is convinced that he has been framed. Now she must live with the Smirch family, the very people who accused her Pa, while he awaits a trial for his alleged crime. While at the Smirches, she and her new friend, Jessamine, encounter a magical creature who has made his home on the prairie. With the help of her new friends and a few new discoveries, Louisa plans to save her Pa from a guilty verdict.
This was a unique historical fiction book for kids which makes it particularly fun to read. Life on the prairie takes an unexpected twist when a magical creature enters the story. Filled with exciting plot twists and a fun courthouse climax, this was a definite winner with my online book club students.
A True Home (Heartwood Hotel #1)
Literary Element: Character Traits
Publisher’s Description: “When Mona the Mouse stumbles across the wondrous world of the Heartwood Hotel in the middle of a storm, she desperately hopes they’ll let her stay. As it turns out, Mona is precisely the maid they need at the grandest hotel in Fernwood Forest, where animals come from far and wide for safety, luxury, and comfort. But the Heartwood Hotel is not all acorn soufflés and soft moss-lined beds. Danger lurks, and as it approaches, Mona finds that this hotel is more than a warm place to spend the night. It might also be a home.”
Literary Element: Point of View and Narration
My Review: This book was such a sweet story told from the perspective of a tree. Red, the Red Oak, has lived in the neighborhood for hundreds of years. He knows the people and their history and they know Red. Of course, they know Red as the Wishtree, and they decorate him with their wishes once a year.
When Samar and her family move into the neighborhood, not everyone is happy about it. One young boy does the unthinkable and carves a mean message into Red’s trunk. Feeling compassion for the new girl but realizing his time might be running short, Red decides that he has to help the neighborhood even if it means breaking his silence.
This was a fantastic book discussion for my 8-10-year-old book club. The story is a great way to introduce narration as well as point of view. Everyone enjoyed reading a story told from the point of view of the tree. Red was a likable and wise narrator.
Without a doubt, this sweet story makes my list of favorites for the upper elementary school crowd.
Literary Element: Point of View and Narration
My Review: Three lives will intersect in this touching story which is told through alternating points of view.
Mavis Jeeter is fearless and bold. She has just moved AGAIN because her mother has taken a job as a housekeeper for the Tully family. Rose Tully doesn’t fit in with the neighborhood girls so her only friend is the gateman, Mr. Duffy. Henry is a runaway dog who is looking for kindness and love. When their lives intersect, they find friendship in unexpected places.
I absolutely adored this sweet story and highly recommend it for a family read-aloud or a great book for your child. This delightful story of friendship is an easy and quick read. The rotating point of view offers a variety of perspectives on the situations in the story.
In addition to having plenty of fun moments, there are also age-appropriate emotions and challenges faced by the characters. Of course, the best part is that this childhood story involves a dog that doesn’t die!
Literary Element: Story Arc
Publisher’s Description: “When Jack Baker’s father sends him from his home in Kansas to attend a boys’ boarding school in Maine, Jack doesn’t know what to expect. Certainly not Early Auden, the strangest of boys. Early keeps to himself, reads the number pi as a story, and refuses to accept truths others take for granted. Jack, feeling lonely and out of place, connects with Early, and the two become friends.
During a break from school, the boys set out for the Appalachian Trail on a quest for a great black bear. As Jack and Early travel deeper into the mountains, they meet peculiar and dangerous characters, and they make some shocking discoveries. But their adventure is only just beginning. Will Jack’s and Early’s friendship last the journey? Can the boys make it home alive?”
From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E Frankweiler
E. L. Konigsburg
Literary Focus: Elements of a Mystery
Publisher’s Description: “When Claudia decided to run away, she planned very carefully. She would be gone just long enough to teach her parents a lesson in Claudia appreciation. And she would go in comfort-she would live at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She saved her money, and she invited her brother Jamie to go, mostly because he was a miser and would have money.
Claudia was a good organizer and Jamie had some ideas, too; so the two took up residence at the museum right on schedule. But once the fun of settling in was over, Claudia had two unexpected problems: She felt just the same, and she wanted to feel different, and she found a statue at the Museum so beautiful she could not go home until she had discovered its maker, a question that baffled the experts, too.
The former owner of the statue was Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Without her—well, without her, Claudia might never have found a way to go home.”
Ways To Make Sunshine
Literary Focus: Character Traits
Publisher’s Description: “Ryan Hart has a lot on her mind–school, self-image, and especially family. Her dad finally has a new job, but money is tight. That means some changes, like selling their second car and moving into a new (old) house. But Ryan is a girl who knows how to make sunshine out of setbacks. As her brother says when he raps about her, she’s got the talent that matters most: it’s a talent that can’t be seen, she’s nice, not mean!
Ryan is all about trying to see the best in people, to be a good daughter, a good sister, a good friend. But even if her life isn’t everything she would wish for, when her big brother is infuriating, her parents don’t quite understand, and the unexpected happens, she always finds a way forward, with grace and wit. And plenty of sunshine.”
More books for 8-10-year olds:
- The Best Fun and Practical Gifts for Homeschooling Families - November 22, 2022
- The Outsiders Literature Study: Create A Fantastic Book Club - November 16, 2022
- A Unique Hunger Games Literature Study and Book Club - November 10, 2022