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The best gifts for 8-year-olds help them engage in elaborate fantasy play and bury their noses in good books.
It's an age when children are developing their physical skills and social identities, and some may start to identify as “athletic” or "artistic," said Dr. Amanda Gummer, founder of Fundamentally Children, a toy testing and parent consulting company in the United Kingdom.
At the same time, 8-year-old boys and girls are becoming more physically adept, independent and sophisticated in their problem-solving. Imaginative play may now stretch over days or weeks and involve friends.
That means they’re ready for more complicated games and middle-grade novels, along with graphic novels and picture books. And as their writing and drawing skills improve, they'll want plenty of time with their own notebooks.
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- Bestselling gifts for 8-year-olds
- Best toy and games gifts for 8-year-olds
- Best kit gifts for 8-year-olds
- Best books gifts for 8-year-olds
Don’t forget to check out Shop TODAY’s 2020 Gift Guide to find the perfect present for everyone on your list!
Bestselling gifts from this article:
- Amazon Klutz Lego Make Your Own Movie Activity Kit, $16.16
- Amazon Klutz Make Your Own Mini Erasers Toy, $12.59
- Amazon Sleuth & Solve: History: 20+ Mind-Twisting Mysteries, $14.25
- Amazon 4M Crystal Growing Experiment, $21.92
- Walmart Ideal Magic Spectacular Magic Suitcase, $39.84
Best toy and game gifts for 8-year-olds
Science is beautiful with this crystal-growing kit. It's a favorite of Marie Conti, the head of The Wetherill School in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, and a board member of the American Montessori Society.
This game of comparisons will be fun for years to come.
Satisfy your photographer-in-training with this instant camera.
Dr. Gummer liked this hands-on, screen-free robot for beginning to learn about coding.
5. Rubik's Cube
The puzzle cube is making a comeback. Choose between the original or an easier two-by-two cube, depending on the child's tolerance for frustration.
Conti likes American Girl dolls for their mix of play and history. The newest doll goes way back to the oh-so-ancient 1980s.
This outdoor game makes old-fashioned catch a little more contained and less predictable. Throw the ball at the net and catch it wherever it goes.
Collectibles like these can be important for kids who are developing a sense of group belonging, Dr. Gummer said.
According to Dr. Gummer, 8-year-olds like playing in groups and are better at working together than when they were younger, so collaborative activities like baking may appeal.
Sports equipment lets kids engage in competition, which is important at this age. "Learning to lose and win is an important skill to gain," Dr. Gummer said.
Your 8-year-old's writing and drawing tools get a stylish upgrade with the reversible flip sequins on this notebook.
Pair a special notebook with metalic writing instruments from Ooly.
Add water to these markers for a traditional watercolor effect, or use them like a regular brush marker without water.
"Playing family board games with children is a great, pressure-free way of keeping those lines of communication open," Dr. Gummer said.
Combine your 8-year-old's developing music skills with a social activity like karaoke.
Looking for a Barbie without the baggage? These dolls can be styled in any number of ways and are more anatomically realistic.
The AirHogs Supernova drone responds to hand movements instead of a remote and helps develop hand-eye coordination.
Eight-year-olds are developing the memory and fine motor skills needed to pull off magic tricks, making this gift perfect for your Houdini wannabe.
Best kit gifts for 8-year-olds
As fine motor skills progress, "move away from prescriptive arts and crafts to more free-form activities such as clay modeling or simply a sketchbook and some pencils," Dr. Gummer said.
This marble run kit builds STEM skills for children 8 and up.
Star Wars fans can build their own droids and then program them using basic coding.
Bring homemade sculptures to life with dough that conducts electricity.
Jazz up your 8-year-old's room and learn about circuits using this color-changing cloud kit that's art and science in one.
Make your own movie with this kit that will appeal to storytellers and Lego lovers alike.
This fun crafting activity has a useful end product — erasers to use in writing and art projects.
Best books for 8-year-olds
The follow-up to last year's Newbery Award-winning graphic novel, "New Kid," follows Jordan's friend Drew as he struggles to fit in with his privileged classmates.
Graphic novels are a great tool for developing readers as they use pictures to boost comprehension. "It engages literacy in a different way. All reading is good reading," said Nina Lindsay, president of the Association for Library Service to Children.
Eight-year-olds should read a mix of fiction and nonfiction. This picture book is a fascinating look at presidential history from a new perspective, showing where future presidents were during a snapshot in time.
In this graphic novel, a girl's lively fantasy life comes off the page where she's doodled.
Adam Gidwitz's series for young readers sets children on fantastic adventures to save mythical creatures. "When kids find a series they like, that’s something they can practice with," said Nina Lindsay, president of the Association for Library Service to Children.
It's a great age to get kids involved in the kitchen, and these recipes and tips from the New York Times columnist are a great inspiration.
The latest in the "Wimpy Kid" franchise finds the Heffleys stranded in an RV park. Be sure to check out "Rowley Jefferson's Awesome Friendly Adventure" from the companion series, too.
Twelve-year-old Alberta is thrilled when another Black girl moves to her small, California town. The two of them work together to unravel a mystery that involves colorism from the past.
This great big book is encyclopedic in scope but accessible in tone for young STEM fans.
These twins have always been built-in bffs, until middle school starts to set them on different paths.
In this bestselling graphic novel, Telgemeier recounts her childhood anxiety in a way that will resonate with any 8-year-old.
This book is not just full of jokes — it teaches kids rules for creating their own, making it a true gift for any young comedian.
This Cuban-inflected sci-fi finds Sal opening wormholes and trying to stop Gabi's rogue doppelganger from another universe.
This follow-up to "Sleuth and Solve: 20+ Mind-Bending Mysteries" puts your 8-year-old's sleuthing skills to the test with fun logic puzzles that travel through historic eras.
Still looking for the perfect gift? Be sure to check out Shop TODAY’s 2020 Gift Guide to shop for everyone on your list, including:
- 37 unique baby gifts for 2020, according to development experts
- The best gifts for 1-year-olds in 2020
- The 36 best toys for 2-year-olds in 2020
- 37 best gifts and toys for 3-year-olds in 2020
- Shopping for a 4-year-old? Here are 34 gifts they'll love
- 35 best gifts for 5-year-olds in 2020
- 31 best gifts and toys for your favorite 6-year-old
- 31 best gifts for 7-year-olds in 2020
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This gift guide was originally published on Oct. 26, 2018.