32 best toys and gifts for 8 year olds 2020

From irresistible journals to science experiments and magic wands.
These toys will encourage imaginative play.
These toys will encourage imaginative play.Amazon
/ Source: TODAY
By Lisa Tolin

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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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When we release our 2020 gift guides, we make sure all prices are current. But prices change frequently, so there’s a chance the prices are now different than they were the day of publication.

Bestselling gifts for 8-year-olds

1. Klutz Make Your Own Mini Erasers

This fun crafting activity has a useful end product — erasers to use in writing and art projects.

2. Klutz Lego Make Your Own Movie Kit

This kit will appeal to storytellers and Lego lovers alike.

3. 4M Crystal Growing Experiment

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.

4. Apples to Apples Junior

This game of comparisons will be fun for years to come.

5. Ideal Magic Suitcase

Eight-year-olds are developing the memory and fine motor skills needed to pull off magic tricks.

Best toy and game gifts for 8-year-olds

1. FujiFilm Instax Mini

This instant camera will satisfy your photographer-in-training.

2. Botley 2.0 the Coding Robot

Dr. Gummer liked this hands-on, screen-free robot for beginning to learn about coding.

3. 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.

4. Harry Potter Training Wand

Aspiring wizards can practice their spells and get real feedback from this wand. You can also pair it with another wand for (harmless) wizard battle.

5. AirHogs Supernova

This drone responds to hand movements instead of a remote and helps develop hand-eye coordination.

6. Num Noms Cupcake Tray Collectible Toy

Collectibles like these can be important for kids who are developing a sense of group belonging, Dr. Gummer said.

7. Easy Bake Ultimate Oven

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.

8. Spalding Over-the-Door Basketball Hoop

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.

9. Reversible Magic Sequin Notebook

Your 8-year-old's writing and drawing tools get a stylish upgrade with reversible flip sequins.

10. Trouble and Battleship Bundle

"Playing family board games with children is a great, pressure-free way of keeping those lines of communication open," Dr. Gummer said.

11. Singing Machine Karaoke System

Combine your 8-year-old's developing music skills with a social activity like karaoke.

12. Creatable Worlds dolls

Looking for a Barbie without the baggage? These dolls can be styled in any number of ways and are more anatomically realistic.

Best kit gifts for 8-year-olds

1. Hey Clay Aliens

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.

2. Gravitrax Starter Set

This marble run kit builds STEM skills for children 8 and up.

3. littleBits Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit

Star Wars fans can build their own droids and then program them using basic coding.

4. Tech Will Save Us Electro Dough Kit

Bring homemade sculptures to life with dough that conducts electricity.

Best book gifts for 8-year-olds

1. "Guts," by Raina Telgemeier

In this bestselling graphic novel, Telgemeier recounts her childhood anxiety in a way that will resonate with any 8-year-old.

2. "Harry Potter" Box Set

Ready to go full Potter? This boxed set features beautiful new covers by Brian Selznick, or try the illustrated collection.

3. "The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown," by Mac Barnett and Sarah Jacoby

Eight-year-olds should read a mix of fiction and nonfiction, and this picture book biography is a touching, fresh look at a writer they know well.

4. "Unicorn Rescue Society: The Creature of the Pines," by Adam Gidwitz

Adam Gidwitz's new 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.

5. "Sleuth and Solve: 20+ Mind-Twisting Mysteries"

Put your 8-year-old's sleuthing skills to the test with these fun logic puzzles.

6. "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Wrecking Ball," by Jeff Kinney

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," Lindsay said.

7. "Some Places More Than Others," by Renee Watson

Amara wants to explore her family history in Harlem in this middle-grade story about a fish finding water.

8. Raymie Nightingale collection, by Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo's three-book series is now complete, or you can buy the latest, "Beverly, Right Here" separately.

9. "The Joke Machine," by Theresa Julian

This book is not just full of jokes — it teaches kids rules for creating their own. A true gift for any young comedian.

10. "Baby-Sitters Club" graphic novels

The beloved series by Ann M. Martin has been updated into graphic novels by Raina Telgemeier and Gale Galligan. An original Baby-Sitters Club retro collection is also available.

11. “Best Friends,” by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham

This highly relatable graphic novel follow-up to “Real Friends” follows Shannon’s ups and downs as she tries to fit in at school.

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This gift guide was originally published on Oct. 26, 2018.