Students Entering Grade 8: Required Summer Reading List
Choose your title and complete your assignment!
- "Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain
The novel’s preeminence derives from its wonderfully imaginative re-creation of boyhood adventures along the Mississippi River, its inspired characterizations, the author’s remarkable ear for dialogue, and the book’s understated development of serious underlying themes: “natural” man versus “civilized” society, the evils of slavery, the innate value and dignity of human beings, and other topics. Most of all, Huckleberry Finn is a wonderful story, filled with high adventure and unforgettable characters.
- "The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexandre Dumas
Edmond Dantès has a perfect life. He is engaged to a beautiful woman and has just been named captain of a ship. But when three jealous friends conspire to destroy him, Dantès is locked away for life in the infamous Chateau d’If. In prison, Dantès learns of an island where vast treasure is hidden. He plots a daring escape, then uses the treasure to transform himself into the Count of Monte Cristo. Equipped with power, wealth, and disguise, he seeks out his enemies. Nothing can stand between the count and his obsession...revenge.
- "Discovering Wes Moore" (young adult version) or "The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates" (adult version) by Wes Moore
Two kids named Wes Moore were born blocks apart within a year of each other. Both grew up fatherless in similar Baltimore neighborhoods and had difficult childhoods; both hung out on street corners with their crews; both ran into trouble with the police. How, then, did one grow up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader, while the other ended up a convicted murderer serving a life sentence? Wes Moore, the author of this fascinating book, sets out to answer this profound question. In alternating narratives that take readers from heart-wrenching losses to moments of surprising redemption, Wes Moore tells the story of a generation of boys trying to find their way in a hostile world.
- "Hidden Talents" by David Lubar
After being expelled from any number of schools, 13-year-old Martin winds up at Edgeview, a publicly funded boarding school and a last-chance alternative. Martin, who narrates, doesn't seem like a delinquent, but he just can't stop himself from taunting his teachers. By the end of his first day he has infuriated the whole staff. Of the kids, Bloodbath is a terror, as are his cronies, but Martin's roommate, "Torchie," is nice enough, although he constantly denies starting the fires that flare up wherever he goes. The other boys Martin gets to know similarly refuse to own up to the particular behavior that landed them at Edgeview. Readers expecting a typical resolution, wherein the boys accept responsibility for their misdeeds, are in for a surprise. Martin's buddies aren't liars and troublemakers at all; you’ll need to read this book in order to find out the truth.
- "Into Thin Air" by Jon Krakauer
A bank of clouds was assembling on the not-so-distant horizon, but journalist-mountaineer Jon Krakauer, standing on the summit of Mt. Everest, saw nothing that “suggested that a murderous storm was bearing down.” He was wrong. The storm, which claimed five lives and left countless more — including Krakauer’s — in guilt-ridden disarray, would also provide the impetus for Krakauer’s epic account of the May 1996 disaster.
- "Little Women" by Louisa May Alcott
Alcott drew from her own personality to create a heroine unlike any seen before: Jo, willful, headstrong, and undoubtedly the backbone of the March family. Follow the sisters from innocent adolescence to sage adulthood, with all the joy and sorrow of life in between, and fall in love with them and this endearing story. Praised by Madeleine Stern as “a book on the American home, and hence universal in its appeal,” Little Women has been an avidly read tale for generations.
- "One for the Murphys" by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Carley uses humor and street smarts to keep her emotional walls high and thick. But the day she becomes a foster child, and moves in with the Murphys, she’s blindsided. This loving, bustling family shows Carley the stable family life she never thought existed, and she feels like an alien in their cookie cutter-perfect household. Despite her resistance, the Murphys eventually show her what it feels like to belong — until her mother wants her back, and Carley has to decide where and how to live. She’s not really a Murphy, but the gifts they’ve given her have opened up a new future.
- "Orbiting Jupiter" by Gary D. Schmidt
The two-time Newbery Honor winner Gary D. Schmidt delivers the shattering story of Joseph, a father at thirteen, who has never seen his daughter, Jupiter. After spending time in a juvenile facility, he’s placed with a foster family on a farm in rural Maine. Here Joseph, damaged and withdrawn, meets twelve-year-old Jack, who narrates the account of the troubled, passionate teen who wants to find his baby at any cost. In this riveting novel, two boys discover the true meaning of family and the sacrifices it requires.
- "Pictures of Hollis Woods" by Patricia Reilly Giff
A troublesome twelve-year-old orphan, staying with an elderly artist who needs her, remembers the only other time she was happy in a foster home, with a family that truly seemed to care about her.
- "Search for Safety" by John Langan
There is no escape for Ben McKee. For weeks, he’s covered the bruises on his body. He’s even lied to his teachers and new friends at Bluford High School. But the trouble in Ben’s house isn’t going away. And if he doesn’t act soon, it could swallow him and his mother forever.