Grade 8 Summer Reading
Our summer reading list is created to inspire you to read.
Grade 8 students are required to choose one book from the Biography/Autobiography selections and one book from the Fiction selections listed below. Come to your first Language and Literature class in September prepared to complete an assignment on the two books you chose from this list. New international students may opt to read just one book from the list, if appropriate to their language level.
Please take a look at our Grade 8 Summer Reading List below and head to the public library, search the family bookshelf, or browse your favourite bookstore for these fabulous stories
|Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming
Traces the life of female aviator Amelia Earhart from her childhood to her final flight, discusses the extensive search for her and her missing plane, and includes photographs, maps, handwritten notes by Amelia, and sidebars.
Themes: aviation, mystery
|Behind the Mask: The Life of Queen Elizabeth I by Jane Resh Thomas
A biography of Elizabeth I (1533-1603) that describes her triumphant reign as well as her childhood.
Themes: history, Great Britain, royalty
|Beyond the Myth: The Story of Joan of Arc by Polly Schoyer Brooks
Condemned as a witch but later canonized as a saint, young Joan led her countrymen into battle against the English.
Themes: war, history
|The Boy on the Lion Throne: The Childhood of the 14th Dalai Lama by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
From humble beginnings to world leader, a new biography focuses on the childhood of the Dalai Lama, as his country remains at the center of the world stage.
On a quiet winter morning in 1937, several men on horseback rode into the tiny Tibetan village of Taktser. Disguised as peasants, the high lamas were on a secret mission--soon they would identify 3-year-old Lhamo Thondup as the 14th reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. With a foreword by the Dalai Lama himself, this dramatic narrative follows his remarkable childhood, illuminating the story of Tibet and introducing a remarkable world figure to a new generation.
Themes: Tibet, Buddhism, growing up
|Chinese Cinderella: The True Story of an Unwanted Daughter by Adeline Yen Ma
An autobiography of a woman's childhood in China and how she grew up to become a doctor in California.
Themes: China, growing up
|Clara Schumann: Piano Virtuoso by S. Reich
Describes the life of the German pianist and composer.
Themes: music, perseverance
|The Crocodile Hunter; The Incredible Life and Adventures of Steve and Terri Irwin by Steve and Terri Irwin
Crikey! For Steve and Terri Irwin, dealing with nasty 20-foot gators, hissing deadly snakes, charging rhinos, poisonous spiders, slimy lizards, and wild reptiles in their own habitats are part of daily life. A committed environmentalist, Steve Irwin's sheer love for animals began at a young age: his parents began an animal refuge when he was quite young, instilling a respect for some of Australia’s native wildlife, and some of the most dangerous creatures on Earth. Read about Steve's first adventures as a young lad, wrestling crocs with his dad. Thrill to the adventure of camping out in the bush for months at a time, cataloguing new species never before known to man, while avoiding death and dismemberment at every turn. And regale in Steve's tales of the deadliest animals he has encountered in his extensive travels throughout the world.
Themes: conservation, animal-rights, environmentalism
risk-taker, communicator, inquirer
|The Dancer Who Flew by Linda Maybardu
The story of Rudolf Nureyev, one of the greatest ballet dancers who ever lived.
Themes: ballet, Russia
|Free the Children by Craig Kielburger
At the age of twelve, Craig Kielburger founded a human-rights organization and made headlines around the world. This is the story of Craig's journey, from Toronto, via the slums and sweatshops of South Asia, to the world stage of international human rights.
Themes: child labour, social justice, change
|Growing Pains by Emily Carr
Growing Pains tells the story of writer and painter Emily Carr’s life, from a proper Canadian girlhood, through her artist’s training in San Francisco and Europe, through the years of despair when she stopped painting and raised dogs and rented out rooms to make ends meet, and finally to vindication and triumph when her greatness was at last recognized. With the ease of a natural storyteller and a painter’s eye for description, Carr infuses her life story with an irresistible warmth, wit, and charm.
Themes: painting, animals, Victoria
|Heart for the Game by Simon Keith
Simon Keith is not only one of the longest-living heart transplant recipients, he is also the first to have ever played professional sports after a transplant. This is his remarkable story. It is the story of one of the most talented young soccer players in North America, on his way to playing for his country in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. Unfortunately, Simon never made that trip. He was diagnosed with a fatal heart disease and given only a few weeks to live. Then something extraordinary happened.
Themes: soccer, health
|I Will Plant You a Lilac Tree: A Memoir of a Schindler's List Survivor by Laura Hillman
A remarkable true story of one young woman's nightmarish coming-of-age during the Holocaust. It is also a story about the surprising possibilities for hope and love during one of history's most brutal times.
Themes: adolescence, Holocaust, war
|Jordin Tootoo: The highs and lows in the journey of the first Inuk to play in the NHL
Hockey is a relatively new sport in Canada’s North. It wasn’t until 2003 that Jordin Kudluk “Thunder” Tootoo became the first Inuk to play in an NHL game. Although hockey is a rough sport to begin with, Jordin Tootoo is known for having to “fight his way through.” Jordin has had more than his fair share of fights—both on and off the ice. This new biography explores the struggles and accomplishments of the most recognized role model for young Aboriginal and Inuit people today.
Themes: Hockey, First Nations
|The Man Who Ran Faster Than Everyone: The Story of Tom Longboat by Jack Batten
A member of the Onondaga Nation, he was born on the Six Nations reserve in Oshwegen, near Brantford, Ontario. Despite poverty, poor training, and prejudice, Longboat went on to become one of the world’s best runners. Longboat was one of the best-known people of his day, and certainly the most prominent member of the Six Nations. Throughout his career he had to race against opponents, as well as rumours of illegal running activities.
Themes: First nations, Running
|Mary, Bloody Mary by Carolyn Meyer
Mary Tudor, who would reign briefly as Queen of England during the mid 16th century, tells the story of her troubled childhood as a daughter of King Henry VIII.
Themes: royalty, life in 16th century England, relationships
|Miss Spitfire: Reaching Helen Keller by Sarah Miller
Annie Sullivan was little more than a half-blind orphan with a fiery tongue when she arrived at Ivy Green in 1887. Desperate for work, she'd taken on a seemingly impossible job -- teaching a child who was deaf, blind, and as ferocious as any wild animal. But Helen Keller needed more than a teacher. She needed someone daring enough to work a miracle. And if anyone was a match for Helen, it was the girl they used to call Miss Spitfire.
Themes: determination, childhood, courage
|Our Life With the Rocket: The Maurice Richard Story by Roch Carrier
A biography of one of hockey's greatest players and a Canadian icon.
Themes: hockey, Canada
|Pegahmagabow by Adrian Hayes
Francis Pegahmagabow was a remarkable aboriginal leader who served his nation in time of war and his people in time of peacefighting. In wartime he volunteered to be a warrior. In peacetime he had no option. His life reveals how uncaring Canada was about those to whom this land had always been home.
Themes: First Nations, World War
|Queen Eleanor: Independent Spirit of the Medieval World by Polly Schoyer Brooks
A biography of the 12th century queen.
Themes: independence, royalty, medieval history
|Red Scarf Girl: A Memoir of the Cultural Revolution by Ji-li Jiang
Twelve-year-old Ji-li's life begins to unravel during the Cultural Revolution when her family asks her to turn down a chance to be trained by the government as a gymnast.
Themes: China, gymnastics
|Revolution is not a Dinner Party by Ying Chang Compestine
Nine-year-old Ling is very comfortable in her life; her parents are both dedicated surgeons in the best hospital in Wuhan. But when Comrade Li, one of Mao’s political officers, moves into a room in their apartment, Ling begins to witness the gradual disintegration of her world. In an atmosphere of increasing mistrust, Ling fears for the safety of her neighbors and, soon, for herself and family. Over the course of four years, Ling manages to grow and blossom, even as she suffers more horrors than many people face in a lifetime. Drawing from her childhood experience, Ying Chang Compestine brings hope and humor to this compelling story for all ages about a girl fighting to survive during the Cultural Revolution in China.
Themes: family life, persecution, communism, physicians
|Rick Hansen: Man in Motion by Rick Hansen and Jim Taylor
The story of Rick's journey from his first painful days in the hospital to his wheelchair trip around the world.
Themes: perseverance, spinal cord injuries
|Something Out of Nothing: Marie Curie and Radium by Carla Killough McClafferty
The poor Polish girl who worked eight years to be able to afford to attend the Sorbonne in Paris became one of the most important scientists of her day, winning not one but two Nobel Prizes. Her life was filled with hard work, humanitarianism, and tragedy.
Themes: discovery, women in science
|Soul Surfer: A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board by Bethany Hamilton and Rick Bundschuh
Bethany Hamilton, a teenage surfer lost her arm in a shark attack off the coast of Kauai, Hawaii. Not even the loss of her arm keeps her from returning to surfing, the sport she loves. They say Bethany Hamilton has saltwater in her veins. How else could one explain the tremendous passion that drives her to surf? How else could one explain that nothing-not even the loss of her arm in a horrific shark attack-could come between her and the waves?
Themes: surfing, family, recovery
|Steve Nash: Making of an MVP by Jeff Rud
The story of Victoria's own, Steve Nash, journey to playing professional basketball and being designated MVP.
Themes: basketball, boys, sports
|Terror of the Spanish Main: Sir Henry Morgan and His Buccaneers by Albert Marrin
An account of the life and times of the English buccaneer, Henry Morgan (1635-1688), from his birth in Wales through his daring exploits in the Spanish Main to his later years in Jamaica.
Themes: buccaneers, history
|Terry Fox: His Story by Leslie Scrivener
Terry Fox was 18 when he learned that he had cancer and that his leg would have to be amputated. On April 20, 1980, he began his Marathon of Hope run across Canada to raise money for cancer research.
Themes: cancer, running, perseverance, courage
|The Tunnel King: The True Story of Wally Floody and the Great Escape by Barbara Hehner
The Great Escape was one of the most daring prisoner-of-war breakouts of the Second World War. Yet few Canadians know the heroic story of Wally Floody. Packed with fascinating details of life in the camp, this story is not only exciting but it is a tribute to a courageous Canadian.
Themes: World War II, escape, courage
|Vincent van Gogh: Portrait of an Artist by Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan
An outstanding well-researched biography of painter Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) which contains letters and other primary sources.
Themes: painting, history, Paris
|The Wright Sister: Katharine Wright and Her Famous Brothers by Richard Maurer
Katharine Wright ran the household for her older brothers and their father during the years when Orville and Wilbur were developing and promoting their airplane. A graduate of Oberlin College, she gave up her career as a teacher to help them turn their airplane from a curiosity into a viable business.
Themes: 1874-1929, aeronautics, invention, United States
|Bone Dance by Martha Brooks
Alexandra is shocked to learn that the father she never knew has died and left her a cabin in rural Manitoba. She knows she must visit the cabin even while she grieves for her unknown father. There she meets Lonny, a boy also torn by grief and visions he can't shake. His family once owned the land Alex has inherited. But Lonny rejected it, never dreaming it would go to Alex. Lonny and Alex are haunted by pasts they cannot change. Now, guiding spirits of their Native Canadian ancestors have brought them together to face their futures.
|Code Talker by Joseph Bruchac
A grandfather recounts his childhood in a residential school that attempted to strip him of his culture and language and later, his recruitment and tour as a Navajo Marine code talker (and code developer) in the Pacific during World War II. A major theme is the retention of and pride in one's culture, as well as the struggle that Navajo people endured during the development of the United States. The strong characters vividly portray the realities of war.
|The Middle of Everywhere by Monique Polak
Noah Thorpe is spending the school term in George River, in Quebec's Far North, where his dad is an English teacher in the Inuit community. Noah's not too keen about living in the middle of nowhere, but getting away from Montreal has one big advantage: he gets a break from the bully at his old school. But Noah learns that problems have a way of following you—no matter how far you travel. To the Inuit kids, Noah is a qallunaaq—a southerner, someone ignorant of the customs of the North. Noah thinks the Inuit have a strange way of looking at the world, plus they eat raw meat and seal blubber. Most have never left George River—a town that doesn't even have its own doctor, let alone a McDonald's. But Noah's views change when he goes winter camping and realizes he will have to learn a few lessons from his Inuit buddies if he wants to make it home.
|The Middle of Nowhere by Geraldine McCaughrean
When her mother dies from a snake bite, Comity Pinny’s life in the middle of the Australian outback changes for ever. Her father, Herbert, retreats into his work transmitting telegrams, abandoning Comity when she needs him most. Comity turns to Fred, the young Aboriginal yard boy, and he becomes her only friend. But then a new assistant arrives who delights in playing cruel games. Soon Comity struggles to hold things together as events begin to spiral dangerously out of control.
|Red Wolf by Jennifer Dance
In the late 1800s, the Anishnaabek people are moved from their land to a reservation. Young Red Wolf is sent to a residential school and separated from his family and a wolf he has befriended. He runs away from the school but is recaptured and returned. When he can leave in grade 8 he must find his place in a world where he fits neither with the settler culture nor his own. This middle-school novel, suitable for a literature circle novel study or class read aloud, lends itself to discussions of residential schools, First Nations’ views of the natural world, and the interconnectedness of life.
|Thunder on the Plains by Gary Robinson
It's been two years and middle school student Danny Wind is still not over his father's death. When his mom marries a white man and they move to a new "white bread" neighborhood, Danny's life changes. The school principal considers him a troublemaker, and he ha to avoid Willy, the school bully, who calls him "redskin" and "Tonto." After Danny acts out and gets suspended from school, his mom decides to send him to a summer survival camp for Native American teens. Danny is sure he is in for a boring summer on the reservation, without Internet access even. Instead, he meets other Native kids, learns to ride and care for horses, and develops a relationship with his grandfather, who teaches him the ways of their tribe. And even though life on the reservation is pretty cool, never in his craziest dreams did Danny expect to become involved in rescuing bison in Yellowstone National Park!