Students Voices: Book Recommendations from Sai B., Kyan V., Liam Z., and Gabi C., 8th Graders


Book Recommendations

“5 Books with Indian Rep” by Sai B., 2022-23 8th grade

India being one of the biggest countries in the world as well as one of the most populous countries is still very unknown to people who haven’t been to the country. There are so many cultures, languages, food, and people that have come from different parts of the country and there is so much to explore. As an Indian person myself, the country is so beautiful and fun to visit. Moving on, many people continue don’t know the true beauty of this country as they haven’t visited the country or have a stereotypical ideology about the country. However, these 5 books can help people understand the cultural and beautiful aspects of the country.

Book 1: Aru Shah Book Series (Pandava Series) by Roshani Chokshi(Presented by Rick Riordan)

I am so happy I read this series as it was written by an Indian author and it was presented by my favorite author Rick Riordan. These books explore one of the biggest stories in Indian mythology called the Mahabharata. This event was about these two groups called the Pandavas and Kauravas in which they fought over the destiny of a  Kingdom. Many important gods took part in this event and are very important to the cultural part of India. These books go over a girl named Aruh Shah who learns she is a reincarnation of a Pandava who was the son of a god. She has to stop many evil spirits and demons through these books. These books do a great job in exploring the cultural part of India and explain a lot of the morals and values we learn from Indian mythology.

Book 2: The Bridge Home by Padma Venkatraman

This is another great book with representation of India but it digs deeper into the lifestyle of how Indian people live. Even though the scenario of Rukku and her brother Viji leaving their house after being violently hurt by their parents, this event is somewhat common to the poorer part of the country. Many families depend on their children to give them financial support and since in the book Rukku the older sister has intellectual problems, it is hard for the family to accept that type of child. Nevertheless, this book was an emotional rollercoaster as it did a really good job of depicting how poorer people live to survive in the country and also expresses the importance of family throughout the book.

Book 3: Save Me a Seat by Gita Varadajan and Sarah Weeks

This book is another great book with Indian representation. Even though it takes place in an American society it represents the adaptations Indian’s have to take after moving to a new country in order to have a better future. However, the lesson learned from the book does not just apply to Indians and is more of a broader moral. The book is about a character named Ravi who tries to adapt to a new way of experiencing things. He has to adapt to school and life in general. Throughout the book he meets Joe, an American, who is also struggling with fitting in and life. They both have the same problems and both try to fix them together. This book does a great job in depicting the values of friendship and the hardship it is for adaptation in a new society. 

Book 4: Red, White, and Whole by Rajani LaRocca

This book is very similar to Save Me a Seat as it also explores a girl named Reha who is the only Indian-American in her school. However, this digs deeper into the way Indian homes are like. It shows how many kids have strict interpretations from their parents and feel disconnected from their parents. This is very common in Indian households as parents were raised to work hard and achieve success but they put these expectations on their kids. The kids feel very pressured by this expectation and feel distant from their parents. In the book Riha’s mom starts to feel really sick and this event allows Riha to be closer to her mom. This book does a great job in explaining the difficulties of fitting in and the importance of family.

Book 5: Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond Series by Sayanti DasGupta

This book is another cultural representation of India. It is about a girl named Kiranmala who lived in New Jersey. One day her parents disappear and a demon appears. We later learn she is a long lost Indian princess and goes on a journey to fight demons and save her family. Even though this book is somewhat fictional there are many cultural aspects included in the book and develops a lot of morals and values related to Indian culture. Overall, this book does a great job in representing Indian culture and is definitely a must read.

“5 Mystery Books You Need to Read Right Now” by Kyon V., 2022-23 8th grade

Within fiction, 12.5% of adult books are in the thriller genre. That is estimated to be about 23.6 million mystery books a year in the US alone.

So why are these books so popular? Everyone loves to read about a great mystery for several reasons. Some like to try and solve the mystery before someone in the books does. Some like the suspension and action the book brings. Some like imagining all sorts of things, like what they would do in the characters’ situations. For all these reasons, mystery books are one of the most popular genres. Here are my top 5 favorites for the year.

Concealed by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

Chrstina Diaz Gonzalez is an Edgar winning author from The US with heritage in Cuba. Concealed is part of the 2022-2023 SSYRA ( Sunshine State Young Readers awards books.) With its release just over 2 and a half years ago, this book has been very popular with all kinds of ages, but especially middle schoolers. It has a plot like no other book that keeps the reader glued to the pages of the book, wondering what will happen next.

Framed! And its sequels by James Ponti

This book is the first of a series of 3 thrilling mystery books by James Ponti. The main character is a 12 year old boy with a new technique to help solve mysteries. He, alongside the FBI, solve mysteries together. Each book has its own unique plot. The reader can try to solve the mystery before the characters, therefore providing a reason to keep reading.

City Spies and its sequels by James Ponti

This book, just like Framed!, is the first of a three book series by James Ponti. In these books, a group of young students work together to thwart evil. It provides a vision into the characters and is totally immersive. The characters all come from different backgrounds and countries, and have to figure out a way to become a team in beating evil.

All Fall Down and its sequels by Ally Carter

This book by Ally Carter is highly underrated. This book does not receive the credit it deserves. What is your next step of action when your mom gets murdered? Of course go for revenge and make the killer pay. Who can you trust is on your side? This Mystery series by Ally Carter is just as good as the most popular mystery books out there to date. 

One of us is Lying and its sequels by Karen McManus

5 kids from different backgrounds and social groups walk into a classroom. Only 4 make it out. This mystery book between 4 kids to find out which one is the killer is electrifying. I love this book because it relates to me as a middle schooler and different kids being forced to work together on something.

In conclusion, next time you want to find an exciting mystery book, come back to this blog post for 5 top mystery book recommendations that are sure to leave you excited and delighted.

“Favorite Between Two Favorites” by Gabi C., 2022-23 8th grade

Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen vs Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch

It’s gonna be so hard to choose a favorite because I love both of these books. However, Love & Olives wins by a margin, and here’s why.

Love & Olives had a better slow-burn plot, but the character development prize goes to Flipped. Both books had an amazing plot with nice pacing especially for their varying lengths. The major difference between the books was the boys. The girls were easily confident in themselves, loving, nurturing, and overall good role models. The boys however, couldn’t have been more different. In Flipped, Bryce was a terrible guy. While he became a “good guy” in the end, in the beginning and end, he was a jerk! His whole persona was bullying Julie and being mean to her at every chance he got. In Love & Olives, Theo is an angel who does everything in his power to make sure Liv is comfortable and happy in her new environment. This makes such a good difference in a book! But Bryce did redeem himself in the end. Love & Olives wins.

The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes vs AGGGTM by Holly Jackson

This may surprise some of you who know me in real life but I actually prefer AGGGTM by Holly Jackson.

Both books have creative mysteries with fun characters and unique plots. However, the way I am deciding these books is the small little details. I’m talking Romance, Sequels, etc. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love both but they each excel in different ways. AGGGTM did it a bit better… The romance won in the Inheritance Games, even though it was a bigger focus. I love the romance between Jameson and Avery in The Inheritance Games. Pip and Ravi were a bit plain but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt given that they were only getting together at the end of book. When it comes to sequels I also prefer AGGGTM. But both books were amazing.

Like a Love Song by Gabriela Martins vs Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor & Park wins by default.

As many of you know Like a Love Song wasn’t one of my favorite books, especially compared to Eleanor & Park. Park was one of my favorite book boys! He was so sweet. Everything he did, he did for Eleanor. He introduced her to his mom. He defended her in front of her dad and provided such a safe space for her, no questions asked. He knew when to let go. As you can see, I put a lot of weight into how much romance my books have. So Eleanor & Park wins.

Invisible by Christina Diaz Gonzales & Gabriela Epstein vs Starfish by Lisa Flipps

These Books. I LOVE these books. I have no complaints. The representation of Latino kids and Plus-size kids is exceptional. Both of these books make a safe space for kids who may feel a little different from everything else. Invisible made me see a little bit of myself in every character. Starfish made me see the perspective of someone different. Starfish was written so beautifully. It feels impossible for me to put these books against each other, So… I choose to break make an exception to my own rules. I have decided to make a tie between these two books!

“5 Underrated Books” by Liam Z., 2022-23 8th grade

Some books don’t get the credit they deserve. There are many good books but they are just not very heard of. While some books are lesser known, they are still extremely good and entertaining . Instead of searching for more known books, search for less popular books as they can be just as good or even better. Smaller books should get the credit that they deserve.

Rebel By Marie Lu

Rebel is an excellent book that not a lot of people read. This book is the 4th book of Legend but is normally outshined by the first three books. This is because this story took place many years later after the third book and it doesn’t contain June’s POV anymore. Despite that, the story is still incredibly good and contains Eden’s story of joining the republic. And also how Day reunites with June. I definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys fast paced action books.

Restart By Gordon Korman

This book is super unique and different from other books. It is about a kid in 8th grade who had an accident and banged his head on the ground. This caused him severe amnesia which made him forget all about his life and had to try and regain it. In my opinion, this has one of the best plots and stories but more people should know about it. Overall, this book is wonderful but not enough people read.

Slacker by Gordon Korman

This is an extremely funny book about a kid named Cameron. Cameron is an extremely lazy kid who slacks off and causes many problems, including almost burning down his house. I really liked it because it has tons of funny parts and it’s entertaining. recommend this book to everyone.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

This is an interesting story about a boy who has these nightmares of a monster in the shape of a tree. This is not all he has to deal with because he deals with death and grief and struggles to overcome it. This story can be emotional or sad but the ending is very happy and he finally overcomes all the things that have happened. I really enjoyed this book because of the good story and plot.

Framed (Swindle#3) By Gordan Korman

Framed is a really good book that contains the search of a very expensive ring. Griffin Bing was getting framed by who he thought was his bully.  But in the end, he discovered it was rats who ate the ring and coincidentally all evidence led to Griffin. This is not only a mystery book but also a comedy book. This book is better than it looks and should be more well known.

Thank you so much to my students for their book recommendations!

5 thoughts on “Students Voices: Book Recommendations from Sai B., Kyan V., Liam Z., and Gabi C., 8th Graders”

  1. I love this! Everyone did a great job, and it’s interesting that this is a lot of MY favorites but not necessarily the books that teachers and bloggers swoon over. Kyon makes an especially good point about so many adult books being thrillers, and the Ally Carter Embassy series is so good! Thanks for giving us some actual target demographic voices!

    • Embassy Row is SO GOOD! I wish more kids would read it; hopefully this post will help!

      And isn’t it great to hear from them–this is one of my favorite series I get to do 🙂

  2. I second Ms. Yingling—I love this post too!! I’m glad I’ve had the chance to read a few of these books before. I loved both Starfish and Invisible, so I understand it being hard to choose between them! Save Me a Seat was another great one, and I think I read Gordon Korman’s entire Swindle series a *long* time ago. It’s great to see what all these different students are enjoying!


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