Beyond Harry Potter

Stacey Conner essays

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Books for Eight-Year-Old Boys

As long as we’re venting, I have another frustration to share. Why is it so hard to find good books for young boys who are avid readers? My son turned eight this week. He’s a pain. He’s stubborn and infuriatingly unkind to his sister and brothers, while nursing long-standing grudges when they look at him sideways. He hates homework, any dinner that doesn’t involve eggs, and any activity that doesn’t involve a hockey puck or a screen. 

He loves to read. I love it when he reads. (The quiet! The lack of complaining!) His comprehension and vocabulary are excellent. He needs a challenge. But he’s still eight. I feel like we’ve fallen into a black hole of children’s literature. We blew by Magic Tree House two years ago. He read Harry Potter (yes, even the last two books, which are admittedly dark, twisty, and possibly inappropriate) last year. And now we struggle to find a balance of age appropriateness in terms of themes, characters, story structure, and complexity that will actually engage him.

Part of the magic of Harry Potter is that the complexity builds gradually through the series, so that younger children already love and understand the characters as they tackle the more difficult material. So few children’s series follow that pattern. They are either mindlessly simplistic or they jump into themes that just don’t interest my eight-year-old boy. 

It causes a lot of frustration at the library. I’m a huge fan of crowd sourcing this kind of problem, so I’ll share my finds if you’ll share yours. Here’s our favorite books we’ve found this year for eight-year-old boys.

The Warriors books by Erin Hunter. The Warriors books follow four clans of wild cats through endless adventures, battles, and political intrigues. If your child likes these books, you are in luck because there are currently twenty-four books organized into four different series and a fifth series is in progress. They can move on to bears in the Seekers series and dogs in the Survivors series if they are so inclined.

The Secret Zoo by Bryan Chick. Four kids living next door to a zoo notice some very peculiar behavior from the animals. With five books already written in this series, it kept my son busy for a while. The language is engaging and the kids are worth getting to know.

Gregor The Overlander by Suzanne Collins. The Underland Chronicles is a series for pre-teens written by the author of the Hunger Games Series. Gregor and his two-year-old sister are sucked down into a world below their city where bats, cockroaches, spiders, and rats reign. These books are very well-written with slightly less intense themes than the Hunger Games.

The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson. In the magical world of Vastia, Aldwyn the cat is accidentally chosen to be the familiar of a young wizard who is promptly captured by an evil queen. Adventure ensues. The fourth book in this series is due out just before Christmas. 

Share your favorites!

About the Author

Stacey Conner

Stacey Conner loves chai tea lattes, bedtime and being at home with her children. She hates the cold, fingerpaints and play dough. She writes about life with four children, adoption, trans-racial parenting and other issues big and small at

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