8th Grade Books For Old Souls

Powerful, poignant, moving us with the heart of their stories, those were many of the books I read in middle school and high school. Many of the books we read during that season of life shaped who I became later. Books have the power to do that, you know. As I’m student teaching this semester, I’m revisiting many of those books. They’re books mostly taught in middle school and high school, but they seem to speak to something deeper in all of us. They’re books you ran across in eighth, ninth, and tenth grade, but they’re really for old souls. You can enjoy some of these titles whether you’re an eighth grader, college sophomore, or a ninety year old sitting in a rocking chair on your front porch.

What I wanted to do with this post, was to create a book list of “8th Grade Books For Old Souls”. You are certainly busy right now as a college student, and your eyes might be weary from wrestling with the likes of Decartes in Philosophy Class, understanding the Magna Carta in World Civ., or balancing equations in Chemistry 101. Sometimes though, fiction can be a break from that kind of intensive reading. There’s nothing like curling up with a cup of tea in your dorm room on a rainy Sunday afternoon, and pulling out a book that has heart. Here are some of those books:

  1. A Long Way From Chicago: Richard Peck–This is a fantastic laugh that chronicles the adventures of Joey and Mary Alice, two siblings from Chicago who annually get sent to their crazy grandmother’s house in small-town America. It’s a coming of age story filled with the zany, the bizarre, and the force of nature–their grandmother.
  1. Out of the Dust: Karen Hesse–Written in poetic format, this book is about a girl named Billie Jo who is growing up in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl. The emotion of this book is intense as Billie Jo wrestles with deep family tragedy, poverty, and becoming a woman during all this.
  1. The Outsiders: S.E. Hinton–You might have read this in ninth grade. Read it again. You’ll get so much more from it this time. This is the story of a kid named Ponyboy and the rival gangs of the Socs and Greasers. Themes of belonging, figuring out who you are, and family are beautifully woven throughout this novel. “Stay gold, Ponyboy”.
  1. The House on Mango Street: Sandra Cisneros–You probably could read this book in an hour. It’s written in chapter/essay format and follows the life of Esperanza Cordero, a girl struggling to find her place as she grows up in the heart of an immigrant community in Chicago. Her story illustrates challenges facing urban communities, but Esperanza Cordero’s determined spirit seems to give courage to us all.
  1. Boy and Going Solo: Roald Dahl–Technically, these books are both autobiographies. Both books are entertaining and fantastic, filled with Dahl’s stories of growing up in England and eventually fighting as a pilot in World War II. If you read both books, you’ll find at the end that Dahl’s experiences have shaped him into a man.