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Ask Slashdot: Best Science-Fiction/Fantasy For Kids? 726

Posted by Soulskill
from the getting-them-started-early dept.
Jason Levine writes "My son is 8 years old. I'd love to get him interested in science-fiction, but most of the books I can think of seem to be targeted to older kids/adults. Thinking that the length of some novels might be off-putting to him, I read him some of the short stories in Isaac Asimov's I, Robot. He liked these, but I could tell he was having a hard time keeping up. I think the wording of the stories was too advanced and there was too much talking and not enough action. Personally, I love Asimov, but I think much of it just went over his head. Which science fiction and/or fantasy books would you recommend for an 8-year-old? (Either stories he could read himself or that we could read together over the course of a few weeks.)"
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Ask Slashdot: Best Science-Fiction/Fantasy For Kids?

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  • Don't try (Score:5, Insightful)

    by crazyjj (2598719) * on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:45PM (#40388517)

    My advice might seem a little cynical, but the first thing I always tell someone who asks "How do I get my kid to like X?" is to tell them "Don't." If they're anything like my kids, mom and dad trying to sell them on something is the quickest way to make it the most uncool thing in the universe.

    When I was a kid, my dad kept trying to sell me on Westerns. Whether or not that had anything to do with it, or whether it was just my nature, I can tell you that I *hated* Westerns then and still do. Of course, I never had the heart to tell the old man, and humored him to no end. But if there was ever any chance I was going to like those bastards Louis L'Amour or John Ford, my dad trying to make them seem "cool" certainly guaranteed that it was never going to happen.

    As an alternative, why not ask your kid what HE likes, and YOU read some of HIS stuff instead? It will probably be a bunch of crap (my evil kids stuck me with reading those damned Harry Potter and pussy vampire books). But at least you won't be turning him off to something.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Grog6 (85859)

      I'd already read most of Asimov at 8, and lost my chemistry set privileges. :)

      Not going to be a geek, is he?

      I'd start with Niven's Ringworld; I remember reading that before puberty, lol.

      • by dkmeans (883158)
        Maybe a little Jules Verne? or a little EE Doc Smith "Valeron" - lots of action....
        • Re:Don't try (Score:4, Informative)

          by dan828 (753380) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @04:20PM (#40390217)
          Some of Heinlein's early stuff was aimed at a younger audience. Red Planet, Time for the Stars, Farmer in the Sky, Podkayne of Mars, Citizen of the Galaxy, to name a few.
      • Re:Don't try (Score:4, Interesting)

        by lister king of smeg (2481612) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @06:17PM (#40391687)

        If you like Asimov you could go with "Norby Chronicles" by Issac Asimov and his wife Janet Asimov. it is a series of scifi stories for kids it even has the three law show up occasionally.

    • Re:Don't try (Score:5, Insightful)

      by g0bshiTe (596213) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:56PM (#40388777)
      We are talking about an 8 year old. They usually tend to still think their parents are cool at that age.
    • Re:Don't try (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Pieroxy (222434) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:06PM (#40389007) Homepage

      Not trying to force feed them the book is one thing. One can always let the book around, when the kid asks vaguely answer "bah, it's just one of my books". You'll see.

      By the way, the OP is asking which books are suitable, not how to make his son like it. The thing is, if he starts with sloppy SciFi books, he will be put off.

    • I agree with you that you shouldn't try to force something on the kid if he doesn't like it. However, at that age there are there are an innumerable number of things that he has never been exposed to, and has no idea whether he likes them or not. Exposing your kids to different things, especially ones that are good for him in general (reading) or had positive impact on your life (like sci-fi) is part of being a good parent. If he doesn't latch onto it, then fine, let it be and move onto something else, but

    • There isn't anything wrong exposing you children to new things, what is usually more dangerous is making your kids avoid what you think is crap, or not your cup of tea.

      If you do that you start planting the seed of a divide between you and him... However there isn't anything wrong to exposing you children to things you like and other things as well.

      It is Ok if you kid Like Gangster Rap... However he should be able appreciate classical music as well, if you just let him make his own choices most kids will ch

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        It is Ok if you kid Like Gangster Rap.

        WRONG! If your kid likes gangsta rap you have done something wrong and must be punished.
        Also, get of my lawn.

    • Counterpoint (Score:4, Insightful)

      by eldavojohn (898314) * <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nhojovadle]> on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:21PM (#40389247) Journal
      I had the same experience with Westerns. I guess when I saw "My Name Is Nobody" I was a bit lost but the Fist Full of Dollars stuff was right in my wheelhouse. Today I don't watch much other than Clint and my dad was okay with that. On the other hand, my dad used to play records for me like Baba O'Riley by The Who and The Beatles' Red and Blue collections on his old record player. I gobbled that stuff up and, later, when I would be exposed to then popular bands like Ace of Base and Green Day from my classmates my body rejected that trash like a baboon heart with the wrong blood type. So I think it can easily go both ways depending on the relationship and the kid's interests. This guy's kid already sounds like he's showing a positive enjoyment towards the books so let's further it.

      And today, I have many younger cousins that I guess I never realized looked up to me and thought I was cool. Well, one Christmas, my aunt just put my name on a present to my younger cousin Hunter and it was for some book I never heard of. She e-mailed me the synopsis and he read that book in five days we did a little back and forth over e-mail about it. So I took her cue and started sending him books I pick up at thrift stores and other used book stores if they're cheap (I'd wager he's got some pretty good sets and maybe even doubles of most of these authors [slashdot.org]). Seriously, stop in a goodwill sometime, pick out some good books and gift them to your younger relatives, it's worth the ~50 cents for the old paperback on the chance the kid reads it. Now when I'm visiting I casually ask him about the books and he goes nuts where he never said two words before.

      So, if you want to help the person asking Slashdot, perhaps the suggestion should be "Give the book to his idol and politely ask them to give the book to your kid." Then once the kid is hooked, you just so happen to have read the book as well.
    • While you're 100% correct, there is nothing wrong with providing access to the material. Remember; this kid is 8. I highly doubt he's concerned with how uncool Daddy is yet. I'd recommend he take his son to the local library (a fun event in any case) and let him pick out all the books that sound neat to him, but gently steer him to the science fiction area, too. This can be as easy as "Hey son, wanna see some of the books Daddy likes to read?"

      Regarding selling kids on things: I agree totally that th
    • by Rolgar (556636)

      I disagree. If you show an interest, and do it well they will definitely be interested, although you do need to let them have some input into what is chosen.

      My wife and I homeschool (private school is an option, but researching homeschool, we've realized one pace or method does not work for every student). I strongly recommend the Thomas Jefferson Education principles for literature. Thomas Jefferson is a framework where the parents pick the materials and curriculum to match the student, and as such, the pr

  • Tolkien, of course (Score:5, Insightful)

    by plover (150551) * on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:46PM (#40388527) Homepage Journal

    I read the Hobbit to my son around first grade, and we read Lord of the Rings when he was about 7. This was ten years before the movies came out, and he was able to use his own imagination instead of seeing Peter Jackson's imagination at work. Highly recommended - he still has fond memories of our reading those books, and even said so this weekend.

    If you read them over the course of a few weeks or so they are like any serial, where you learn to keep track of who is where and doing what, and enjoy the anticipation of finding out what comes next. I wouldn't assume they have to be short stories, they just have to hold his interest.

    • by getto man d (619850) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:55PM (#40388751)

      Thanks for sharing. My father read The Hobbit to me when I was about the same age as your son (~5 years old). I absolutely loved it and, when I was older, read LOTR on my own (still remember being mad that Bilbo wasn't the main character anymore), which started a long and interesting journey throughout the fantasy genre.

      I'm sure the Harry Potter series would serve as a great starting point as well.

    • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:58PM (#40388795)

      I hope it was the original version where Bilbo stabs first.

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      I read the hobbit when I was in grade 5, my teacher thought it was pretty damn neat. And said "If there are words or sentences you don't understand, come to me and I'll explain." But easy sci-fi and fantasy are the best, WoT is pretty heavy reading, so is most of it. My suggestion though is comic books. That's what started me on sci-fi.

    • by dintech (998802)

      When I was his age, I really loved reading the choose-your-own-adventure type books. The wording is easy, they're suitable for boys and the gamification of reading is pretty good at holding a kid's attention.

      I really recommend the Fighting Fantasy [wikipedia.org] series by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingston, the co-founders of Games Workshop (Warhammer). Ones I fondly remember were Robot Commando [amazon.co.uk], Temple of Terror [amazon.co.uk] and Midnight Rogue [amazon.co.uk]. I also really enjoyed the larger scale "Sorcery!" series that Steve Jackson did.

      These gave m

    • Weirdstone of Brisingamon and Moon of Gomrath have plenty of action and are every bit in the same spirit as Tolkien.

      For sci-fi, at that age I was into Citizen of the Galaxy, Spaceship Medic and other lighter stuff. However, I would strongly suggest Pratchett's "Only You Can Save Mankind".

      • by ghostdoc (1235612) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:27PM (#40389391)

        Good call on Alan Garner, I'd second that.

        Also the Wizard of Earthsea series (Ursula LeGuin) are very readable and the character is (or at least starts the adventure as a) kid, which I think is necessary for kid-suitable fiction.

        It's heartbreaking to say it, because they've given me so much pleasure over so many years, but we may as a civilisation be moving away from Plain Old Books and into other forms of storytelling.
        It might be more useful in the long run to teach him how to discern between mass-market crap and good, meaningful stories in whatever form they take.

    • by Belial6 (794905)
      If watching the movies is seeing Peter Jackson's imagination at work, then reading the books is seeing Tolkien's. While basic reading skills are important in life, the idea that books are somehow 'better' as entertainment is simply BS. If you wanted you kid to use his imagination, you should have had him write his own book instead of reading someone else's and taking credit for the authors imagination.

      Honestly, TLOTR made better movies than books. While the story was pretty good, and certainly formed
  • Tripods (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:48PM (#40388553)

    Christopher's Tripods trilogy is aimed at the younger reader. There's even an old British TV adaptation of the first two books.

  • Jules Verne! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:48PM (#40388555)

    I was totally reading Jules Verne as a young kid. They're easy reads, often interesting for kids, and are very light-hearted/G-rated.

  • by fuo (941897) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:49PM (#40388575)
    Ender's Game.
    • Eh, maybe not. There's some pretty rough stuff in that game and some very adult moments. Kids die, some psychologically disturbing stuff, and gets fairly bleak towards the end. Wait till about 12 :)

      • Eh, maybe not. There's some pretty rough stuff in that book* and some very adult moments. Kids die, some psychologically disturbing stuff, and gets fairly bleak towards the end. Wait till about 12 :)

        Corrected.

  • Heinlein Juvies. (Score:5, Informative)

    by HornWumpus (783565) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:49PM (#40388579)

    'Space Cadet', 'Rocket Ship Galileo', 'Have Space Suit Will Travel' etc etc.

    • by farnsaw (252018)
      Seconded, often call his "Boys Books"
    • by Jhon (241832) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:03PM (#40388931) Homepage Journal

      Agreed. Those are good starters.

      Didn't work for my son,though. He just wasn't interested. But he did go for Harry Potter. I read the first 5 books to him. He re-read those on his own -- then completed the series as it came out.

      So, I left him alone to find is own interests. Around age 11 he picked up a copy of Percy Jackson. He ate up the entire series. Turns out he has the same "useless superpower" that I have -- the ability to read freakishly fast. He's now getting ready to turn 13 and has read through most of my older Heinleins (I'm not ready to try to explain to my wife Stranger, Time enough for Love, etc... so those are off limits), Asimovs and all my old "serials" (Simon Hawke, Robert Asprin, etc).

      I think the best advice is to READ to your kids. Get them interested. Read what they like. And if you can, Be EMOTIVE when you read.

      As a side note, I used to end an evening with a cliff-hanger. Right smack dab in the middle of the chapter there'd be something like "... and then there was a BANG! Ok... We're done for tonight". Drove my son insane. Made him seek out the book and read ahead.

    • by kailSD (1271360) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:16PM (#40389175)
      The Star Beast! Kids love Lummox. :)
  • Terry Pratchet (Score:3, Informative)

    by daw1234 (585433) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:50PM (#40388597)
    Great writer.
  • These were my favourites when I was that age:
    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=Neil+Ardley+World+of+Tomorrow [amazon.com]

    OK, so it's a set of picturebooks without any real story. But I'd like to find something modern and similar for my kids.

    Also finding myself showing them old reruns of ST (TOS and TNG), since there are no other Sci Fi worlds I've seen that have a somewhat positive view of the future.

  • STAR WARS (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Forrest Kyle (955623) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:51PM (#40388613) Homepage
    Have him watch Star Wars in the Machete Order [nomachetejuggling.com] and then get him started on the Timothy Zahn books, Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising, and The Last Command. They are awesome! I loved them when I was a kid, and still do.
  • ...when I was a kid were "The Runaway Robot" by Lester del Rey and "Secret Under the Sea" by Robert Silverberg. I think I still have them in a box somewhere.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      Oh, and, while not really Science Fiction, "The Mad Scientists' Club" by Bertrand R. Brinley was pretty cool.
  • Fantasy (Score:5, Informative)

    by COMON$ (806135) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:51PM (#40388621) Journal
    Narnia or Dark is Rising, both are fast paced and worthy of a few chapters at a time. I was read them when I was a kid, by the time we finished Narnia I was reading the books to my parents and was way ahead of my classmates on a reading level.
  • I don't recall getting into this stuff seriously until I was 11 or 12 but names I would throw out would be Madeline L'Engle (Wrinkle in Time), C.S. Lewis (Perelandra, That Hideous Strength), Ray Bradbury (Martian Chronicles or his short stories), Lowis Lowry (The Giver), Orson Scott Card (Ender's Game although it's a long one for kids), Robert Heinlein (The Star Beast, The Rolling Stones), Arthur C. Clarke (Childhood's End), Terry Pratchett (Johnny Maxwell series) ... now, since I was young there have been a whole raft of others and I think Neil Gaiman is even writing children's books now. I guess some names I've heard that you can look into are Andre Norton, Douglas E. Richards, Terrance Dicks, Donald Moffitt, Larry Niven, Jane Yolen, Gary Paulson, etc.

    Just so you know, Asimov did edit collections of sci-fi for children (on his way to having his name on 500 books) and I think I remember Young Mutants and Tomorrow's Children being okay collections.
  • e. e. doc smith (Score:4, Informative)

    by Imagix (695350) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:51PM (#40388635)
    How about the Lensman series?
  • by genghisjahn (1344927) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:52PM (#40388651) Homepage
    It's great for kids. About a young boy and his father who emigrate to a terra-formed Ganymede.
  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:52PM (#40388655)

    Check out his series that starts with The Space Ship Under the Apple Tree.

    While it was written in 1952, it used to a in every single elementary school library, and is aimed at kids about your child's age.

  • Jules Verne (Score:3, Informative)

    by ddonato (2666703) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:52PM (#40388663)
    I'd say anything by Jules Verne. I read most of his work between 8 and 10 and I couldn't be happier.
  • A Wrinkle in Time (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:53PM (#40388673) Journal

    Need I say more?

  • Written by Asimov and his wife, Norby the Mixed Up Robot (and many sequels) are awesome. Loved them as a kid. Family friendly (no sex, clean language, minimal violence) but entertaining enough for adults.
  • by WillAdams (45638) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:54PM (#40388693) Homepage

    _not_ Scalzi's reboot.

    Charming, stand-alone story which is a part of his ``Terro-Human Future''.

    In the public domain, so available from Project Gutenberg:

    http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/18137 [gutenberg.org]

    If you're travelling at some point in the near future, the version on Librivox:

    http://librivox.org/little-fuzzy-by-h-beam-piper/ [librivox.org]

    is absolutely professional in its production quality and would make a great story to listen to in the car.

    William

    (and I second the suggestions of Verne, Ender's Game and the Heinlein juveniles)

  • by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:55PM (#40388725)

    nt

  • by g0bshiTe (596213) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:55PM (#40388731)
    Find some of these. I remember reading these things as a kid and loved them. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choose_Your_Own_Adventure [wikipedia.org]
  • by JimProuty (1298167) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:55PM (#40388737)
    This was got me hooked back in the day (plus the Heinlein juves): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Wonderful_Flight_to_the_Mushroom_Planet [wikipedia.org] Part of "The Mushroom Planet Books". These are easy to follow without being condescending. And anyone who isn't captivated by the idea that youngsters could build their own functional rocket ship isn't awake.
    • by the gnat (153162)

      Oh HELL yes. My mom (!) introduced me to these as a child and I though they were terrific - definitely not "hard" science fiction but an excellent gateway to the genre. Perfect level for an 8-year-old (I doubt he'd have a problem reading it himself).

      Some of the other books I've seen mentioned on this thread are probably going to go over the head of an 8-year-old; Ender's Game in particular is pretty dark. The Heinlein juveniles are great but I'd probably wait a couple more years unless you have an except

  • by SoundGuyNoise (864550) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:55PM (#40388745) Homepage
    There's a few sci-fi themed Choose Your Own Adventure books, I bet you can find those easily online.
  • Danny Dunn... (Score:4, Informative)

    by LoLobey (1932986) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:56PM (#40388771)
    Books I remember liking from that age that had a science or sci-fi bent were Danny Dunn [wikipedia.org] stories (there were quite a few books, don't know if any are available) and a book called the Dinosaur and the Egg (by Stephanie Lewis?). Lit my imagination and an appetite for all things sci-ency.
  • Wow. Really? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:56PM (#40388779)

    My son is 8 years old. I'd love to get him interested in science-fiction, but most of the books I can think of seem to be targeted to older kids/adults

    Huh. Shame there's not some vast repository of information where you could search for this.

    http://www.google.com/search?q=science+fiction+novels+kids [google.com]

  • Kid's Sci-Fi (Score:5, Informative)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:58PM (#40388799) Journal

    There's plenty of kid-focused Sci-Fi
    Anything with Janet Assimov's name on it is kid friendly.
    I loved the Lucky Starr series by Isaac Asimov (under the name "Paul French")
    Heinlen even wrote some kids books.

    Most of the 'big' sci-fi authors have written stories for kids.
    You just have to go looking for it.

    • by AceJohnny (253840)

      I concur on Janet Asimov's books. I actually read those in 7th or 8th grade, after I had read many of Isaac Asimov's other books. I was just looking for anything with "Asimov" on it. I recall finding them a bit juvenile, but still a good enough read that I still remember them 20 years later!

  • by theshowmecanuck (703852) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @02:59PM (#40388819) Journal
    If he's not interested let him play outside with other kids like he's supposed to. Or at worst let him read comic books. If he's interested in books now then fine, but it doesn't sound like it. Give him a couple of years to develop more. In the meantime interacting with other kids is far better in this internet rich interaction depleted world we live in. Encourage reading sure, but don't push it.
  • Give him a copy of Accelerando or Cyteen and let him sink or swim.

    If it ends up dust covered on a shelf, repeat after me: "It's perfectly OK for my kid not to like what I like, He's my son and I love him anyway.".

  • by IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:03PM (#40388921) Homepage Journal

    Very accessible, minimal (or none) profanity and sex, very funny (Jed the Dead) and insightful (Nor Crystal Tears)

    ADF all the way.

  • Some others have already mentioned 'The Hobbit', which is great for his age (I read it to my son at the same age yours is).

    I can't believe no one has yet mentioned 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' yet though. That was about the age I read that to my son too. The only caveat is be careful how fast you progress. He's likely not old enough for 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows'. We've tackled that by giving one a year for Christmas.
  • by stanlyb (1839382) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:04PM (#40388965)
    "The Day of the Triffids" - John Wyndham.
    Actually, you could say it not science fiction, as it is the reality now....but anyway.
  • 8 is a little young for most kids to appreciate hard science fiction, so I would stick to the softer stuff. Here are a few softer stories I enjoyed at that age:

    The Pern books by Anne McCaffrey
    The Zero Stone by Andre Norton
    Startide Rising by David Brin (I think I was 10 when I read this one, but the concept of dolphins piloting starships blew my mind...some sexual content, though)

  • by Lurker2288 (995635) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:07PM (#40389015)

    When I was about your son's age, I read Eleanor Cameron's 'The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet,' about two boys who befriend a scientist (who's really almost a wizard) and with his help build a spaceship to explore a small, hithero undiscovered moon populated by friendly mushroom people. It sounds wacky, but it was a lot of fun, and there are a few other books in the series if your son enjoys the first.

    Depending on your son, some of Heinlein's fiction for children might also work. I remember loving 'Tunnel in the Sky' and 'Red Planet' when I was ten or so.

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:10PM (#40389067) Homepage Journal
    1 - The Pern series by Anne McCaffrey. Excellent mix of both fantasy and sci-fi (though perhaps a bit gruesome for an 8 year old...)

    2 - the Animorphs book series; I read them when I was a kid and really got into the story. What 8-year-old hasn't dreamed of being able to transform into an animal?
  • SF or Fantasy? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Frequency Domain (601421) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:10PM (#40389069)

    For SF, the Heinlein juveniles: Red Planet, Have Space Suit Will Travel, Between Planets, Space Cadet, etc. if your kid can deal with young-teen reading levels. If you need something younger, Asimov had "Norby" and "Lucky Starr", there were a set of books about "Danny Dunn" in the 50's and 60's, Brinley wrote "The Mad Scientist Club" for Boy's Life around the same time, and there were a bunch of "Tom Swift" books - Jr, not Sr, the latter are way too dated. Also from the 50's, check out "The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet" by E. Cameron. Fifteen years ago my own kids plowed through the "Animorphs" series, but I thought they were formulaic and trite - I guess the recommendation depends on whether you're looking for "good" books or something that the kids will find engaging. In the same vein, Coville's wrote a bunch of lightweight but fun things such as "My Teacher is an Alien".

    I would NOT recommend Verne or HG Wells for modern young readers, the prose seems long-winded and obtuse by modern standards, but after your kid's hooked he can certainly go back and fill in with these.

    For fantasy, you couldn't do better than "The Enchanted Forest Chronicles" by Patricia C Wrede. Hold off on Tolkien until later, "The Hobbit" might be okay for a read-aloud family activity but is a bit much for most 8 year olds.

  • by INeededALogin (771371) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:11PM (#40389083) Journal
    I've seen an eight year old read it and love it. It is very accessible because it is just random fun.
  • by musicon (724240) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:16PM (#40389167) Homepage
    I'd highly recommend the series So You Want to Be a Wizard? series by Diane Duane for kids in the 8-15 age range, although they read fine for older ages as well. And before anyone asks, I'd recommend them over the Harry Potter series. For older kids (12-18), the Amber series by Roger Zelazny is great as well. There's also the old Danny Dunn series. Finally, depending on the kids' maturity level, go for the classics (Stranger in a Strange Land, A Wrinkle in Time).
  • by Pontiac (135778) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:17PM (#40389207) Homepage

    Rather than trying to get the kids reading the adult shorts and novels try the books they wrote for kids
    Asimov has the Luckey Starr series. This was probably the first Sci-fi book I remember my dad reading to me.

            David Starr, Space Ranger (1952)
            Lucky Starr and the Pirates of the Asteroids (1953)
            Lucky Starr and the Oceans of Venus (1954)
            Lucky Starr and the Big Sun of Mercury (1956)
            Lucky Starr and the Moons of Jupiter (1957)
            Lucky Starr and the Rings of Saturn (1958)

    From Heinlein

            Rocket Ship Galileo, 1947
            Space Cadet, 1948
            Red Planet, 1949
            Between Planets, 1951
            The Rolling Stones aka Space Family Stone, 1952
            Farmer in the Sky, 1953
            Starman Jones, 1953
            The Star Beast, 1954
            Tunnel in the Sky, 1955
            Time for the Stars, 1956
            Citizen of the Galaxy, 1957
            Have Space Suit—Will Travel, 1958

  • Lloyd Alexander (Score:4, Informative)

    by Medievalist (16032) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:19PM (#40389223)

    Lloyd Alexander's Prydain series for fantasy, Heinlein's juvenile stuff for SF. And don't ask him to read the books, read the books to him. Let him find his own things to read (it'll be godawful stuff in your opinion, and that's OK).

  • by treerex (743007) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:22PM (#40389285) Homepage
    Piers Anthony's Xanth series can be a lot of fun, especially the early ones. Eight may be a bit young for them though. I'll second the suggestions of Narnia and The Hobbit (LotR is not engaging enough for the average 8 y/o IMHO).
  • Tom Swift (Score:5, Informative)

    by arikol (728226) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:32PM (#40389495) Journal

    the Tom Swift books are pretty fun for kids. Crazy airplanes, spaceships, submarines, and all kinds of weird things. The books will make YOU cringe a little (not the best prose in the world and sometimes quite tacky) but may spark the imagination of a child.

    Hardcore sci-fi can start being interesting soon, but most of that does not get REALLY interesting until the children become old enough to read between the lines and see the actual point of the stories. At least a little. Books such as Animal Farm (okay, not sci-fi, but bear with me) are often seen as boring by children who haven't trained themselves to read books and understand the point. Most hardcore sci-fi isn't about robots, but rather about the human condition. Choose something simpler that really is about robots to begin with. The rest comes when the children start exploring by themselves.

  • by CrimsonAvenger (580665) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @03:40PM (#40389653)
    Since noone has bothered to mention her juveniles. Time Traders, first three or four novels, Witch World, most, if not all of them Almost any of the stories that mention the Dipple, though you'll probably have to explain that part to him (or might have to have someone explain it to you, if you're young enough for an 8-year-old son still). Not sure whether her post atomic war stories (Stars Are Ours, Star Man's Son, etc) would fit within his worldview (it's been a very long time since that was a big concern), but the stories are reasonably entertaining, usually involving a teenage boy as protagonist....
  • by ageoffri (723674) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @04:06PM (#40390029)

    Look no further then the Tom Swift and Tom Swift Jr. books. Sure the older ones are outdated, but they gave me a love of Science Fiction that I still have.

    According to the wiki article they are still being published as of 2007.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Swift [wikipedia.org]

    When we have kids I plan to read these to our kid very early on.

  • by unfortunateson (527551) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @04:11PM (#40390095) Journal

    Some of the classics of SF are awfully dated: theirs are futures which didn't happen. Because of that, Asimov, Heinlein, Andre Norton, Williams and Abrashkin's "Danny Dunn" and other juveniles of that time may be hard to swallow. I'd say that CS Lewis falls in the same category.

    Daniel Pinkwater is a genius, with books for all ages:Tooth-Gnasher Superflash is a picture book about test-driving a car, and hopefully it flies and eats other cars; Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy from Mars is about the strangeness of growing up. You can't go wrong with one of his books.
    Roald Dahl, while written half a century ago, hold up pretty well: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a good gateway drug, and Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator is a little more SFnal
    Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game" is a tough read for a youngster -- be available for the reader, answer questions, help them along. Some object to Card's politics, and his psychology of cruelty, but it's still a darn good read.
    Lois McMaster Bujold's "The Warrior's Apprentice" may be a little old for an 8-year-old, but not by much. It's a modern space opera, about someone older but not bigger than an 8-year-old.
    Scott Westerfeld's "Leviathan", "Peeps" and "Uglies" series are perhaps aimed more at teens, but don't get too adult. His wife, Justine Larbalester, writes great fantasy (How to Ditch your Fairy, Liar).
    Clive Barker's "Abarat" is sort of an Oz/Wonderland inside-out. Yes, the creator of Pinhead can write kid-safe stuff too. But oops, that's fantasy too.
    China Mieville's "Railsea" is getting great press, but I haven't had a chance to read.
    Paulo Bacigalupi's "Shipbreaker" is another I haven't read yet
    Adam Rex's "The True Meaning of Smekday" is one my wife enjoyed a lot
    Cory Doctorow's "Little Brother" might work well, if you don't mind your 8-year-old becoming an activist ;^)

  • by undeadbill (2490070) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @04:16PM (#40390169)

    My 8 year old has been reading Girl Genius comics for over a year now. She can't get enough of them. The comics are free online, you only pay for print versions and merch. She has all of the print copies, and rereads them regularly.

    http://www.girlgeniusonline.com/ [girlgeniusonline.com]

  • by PCM2 (4486) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @05:06PM (#40390885) Homepage

    We're talking about an eight-year-old here, and all anybody seems to be mentioning is the same old stuff that crops up every time there's a "what should I read?" question on /. Seriously, Dune for an eight-year-old? Get out.

    It seems strange to me that anyone would even need to ask this question, when the market for juvenile fiction seems to be exploding right now (especially as compared to the market for literary fiction). Why not just take him to a bookstore and have him pick out something that looks fun?

    But if you want to find some suitable, critically-acclaimed books for his age, perhaps you should consult the list of Newbery Award winners. [wikipedia.org] There's a decent amount of science fiction and fantasy in there, and a bunch of other good stuff, besides.

  • by Gilmoure (18428) on Wednesday June 20, 2012 @05:12PM (#40390965) Journal

    My daughter (11) was not a reader but enjoyed us reading stories to her. What finally got her going, around 8 years old, was Star Wars and Doctor Who comics. From there, she graduated to Star Wars (scholastic has some for grade school kids) and Doctor Who books, and now she's working her way through Hunger Games and Golden Compass.

    She's also hooked on web comics; Girl Genius, Darths and Droids, Gunnerkrig Court, and Irregular Web Comic. The last is a Lego comic and that appeals to kids. Darths and Droids is a reselling of the Star Wars films, as if they were an ongoing tabletop RPG. Having a 10 year old involved really explains the weirdness of EP. I.

He's dead, Jim.

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