A Reading List for the 8 Plus English Exam
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Reading should be an essential part of your child’s 8 Plus exam preparation. The more your child reads in the lead up to the English exam, the more their vocabulary and literacy skills will improve.
Try to encourage your child to read outside their usual comfort zone. This might mean reading books from different genres, or in different styles. To give you an idea of the level of reading that your child should be aiming for, we’ve compiled the following 8 Plus reading list.
These texts include both modern and classic books, and should be suitable for boys and girls.
The Feet by Tom Wayman
Whilst the rest of this reading list consists of novels, it’s also highly recommended that you expose your child to some poetry. Tom Wayman’s poem, ‘The Feet’, was recently used as the comprehension text in the Westminster Under 8+ (8 plus) exam.
Aquila by Andrew Norriss
Awarded the 1997 Whitbread Children’s Book of the Year, Aquila tells the story of two boys who, after bunking off school, discover a flying time machine. With the ability to travel anywhere they like, the boys have some fantastic adventures – but for how long can they keep the time machine a secret?
Billionaire Boy by David Walliams
One of David Walliam’s most popular books, Billionaire boy tells the story of Joe Spud, a boy who has everything he could wish for – his own cinema, a bowling alley, an orangutan…everything except a friend. The book has also been adapted for the BBC.
Fungus the Bogeyman by Raymond Briggs
Fungus the Bogeyman follows a typical day in the main character’s life. We learn about how his environment differs from humans – surrounded by damp, darkness and cold food. As his day progresses, he starts to question his job as a bogeyman, where he scares humans, known as ‘surface people’. The book creates its own world, full of the myths, hobbies and books of the Bogeys.
Mr Majeika by Humphrey Carpenter
Mr Majeika is a primary school teacher at St Barty’s Primary School, a fairly normal school in England. Mr Majeika, however,is no ordinary teacher. When he arrives in class on a flying magic carpet, school lessons suddenly become a lot more interesting, especially when the class discover that he is in fact, a wizard. The book has also been made into a popular television series.
Stig of the Dump by Clive King
Stig of the Dump was first published in the UK in 1963, and has become a classic children’s novel. The book tells the story of a boy named Barney who lives with his grandparents in southern England. When he tumbles over the edge of a cliff, he falls through the roof of a den, where he meets an unusual caveman named Stig. The story follows their adventures together in the chalk pit, which is full of people’s discarded rubbish.
The Demon Headmaster Series by Gillian Cross
The Demon Headmaster is a children’s book that follows the strange events that happen in a secondary school, run by a hypnotising headmaster. With his powers of hypnosis, he controls the pupils of the school and plots to take over the world. The mysterious character hides behind dark glasses, taking them off only to hypnotise pupils. The book was also made into a popular TV series.
The Iron Man by Ted Hughes
The Iron Man was written in 1968 and is a classic children’s story that makes a good addition to our 8 Plus reading list. A science fiction novel, the story of the Iron Man is told over five nights and describes the arrival of a metal giant who befriends a small boy and defends the world from an outer space invasion.
The Magic Finger by Roald Dahl
This fantasy story was written in 1962 and is narrated by an eight-year old girl who hates that her neighbours, the Gregg family enjoy hunting. After several attempts to convince the family that hunting is wrong, she realises that she has a special power in her finger that she can use whenever she feels upset or angry.
There’s a Viking in My Bed by J Strong
There’s a Viking in my Bed is a good book to add to an 8 Plus reading list. The story follows the antics of Sigurd the Viking, who falls from his longboat and ends up in modern-day England. After finding refuge in the Viking Hotel, he begins his attempts to live as a modern man, which inevitably end up in disaster.
The Sheep-Pig by Dick King-Smith
The Sheep-Pig follows the story of a lonesome pig, living on a farm. Inspired by the author’s experience of being a farmer for 20 years, the book was adapted into a film called Babe. A welcome addition to any 8 Plus reading list, The Sheep-Pig won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Award in 1984.
Tom’s Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce
This fantasy novel is a classic children’s book, first published in 1958. The book has since been adapted for television, radio, cinema, and the stage. The novel follows the main character, Tom, who lives under quarantine with his aunt and uncle. Set during the late 19th Century, the book follows Tom’s adventures as he slips out at night to a garden and travels back in time.