At around the ages seven and eight, children make a shift from reading relatively simple books to more complex texts. It’s not uncommon to see an eight-year-old with classics like The Hobbit or one of the Harry Potter books; both of which take some serious reading.
This age is key in a child’s development, often regarded as their ‘formative years’. By seven or eight, most children become able to concentrate for longer periods of time. This means they can begin reading longer texts and their broadening knowledge and vocabulary means they can tackle increasingly complex literature.
Making the right reading choices will have a lasting benefit in the years to come!
The best books for 7 and 8-year-olds
There are some great classics that are perfect for children aged 7 or 8, but many modern books with more modern context are now available. Technology and the internet has drastically changed the world the children of today grow up in and sometimes older stories don’t capture the imagination.
Many of the books used in schools are for the purpose of developing reading skills. If you’ve had a flick through them, you probably already know that they’re not that engaging for adventurous readers.
Some of the best books I have come across for children ages seven and eight are the Clever Tykes books. They are fully-illustrated chapter books that are simply-written but begin to address more adult concepts. This means that competent readers and those still developing their skills have something to learn.
Personally, I find that children who are expanding their reading base engage better with human characters. I loved reading stories about woodland creatures and talking bears, but they’re now at an age when they are engrossed by other children.
The human characters in the Clever Tykes series have realistic stories that I feel children can really emulate and learn from. The characters feel a little older, more like 10 or 11, which I think makes them more interesting and aspirational.
If you’ve not heard of them before, the stories are about children who set about creating ventures after discovering they’re good at or interested in something. They’re perfect for nurturing entrepreneurial spirit teaching other key traits. There are also some great discussion topics if you want to help their understanding of certain concept and the real world.
These aside, I have some basic rules I abide by when looking for new stories for the children I know:
Our quick guide on how to choose books for 7 and 8-year-olds
1. Take ‘bestseller’ and ‘most popular’ lists with a pinch of salt. I’ve found that publishers seemingly just pay for the best space in bookshops and their books end up on the shelves marked ‘popular’ or ‘bestselling’. This doesn’t make them the best books! Further still, just because books are indeed popular with other kids, doesn’t mean they’ll be the best books for your child.
2. Check out which books are being recommended in forums. Social media influencers and bloggers can be a good source of information, especially on new products, HOWEVER, many influencers are paid for promoting these products. This isn’t to say that these posts or reviews aren’t reliable, but make sure you check out more than one review and find ones that are unbiased.
Forums have the potential to be a more reliable source because more of individuals contributing to them have a range of views are likely coming from an unbiased perspective.
3. If your son or daughter is not a confident reader, don’t choose something that’s too complex for them. If they’re struggling to make sense of words and sentences, no matter how good the story, it will be lost on them. The last thing you want to do is discourage a child that wants to read new material. Before you decide on a book – check out how it compares with the other books your child can read and enjoys reading.
Don’t worry if you’ve bought something a little bit difficult – save it for when they’ll get the most out of it!
4. Find books that relate to an existing interest. These days, you can find books on just about any topic and sites like Amazon are the perfect place to start your search. Finding books that have some common ground with what your child already reads about or is interested in is a good start finding their next favorite book.
Ultimately, you and your child determine what the best book for them is. Don’t be too influenced by what other people are raving about and be confident in your judgment about what your child should be reading. In an era when reading a book, especially a real paperback book, is not most children’s idea of a good time, simply finding something they’ll engage with and read for pleasure is super important.
With new stories and authors every year, keep up your search and find a good selection.
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