Eighth-graders frequently seem confused about how grown up they are. And do you blame them? Not me. Twelve to fourteen-year-olds pay adult admission, and are about to make the giant leap into high school, yet they’re not allowed to drive or work. Bummer. Girls, already on the road in developing the forms and functions of grown women, deal with parents who one moment scold, “You’re practically grown up!” and then awhile later become hysterical when their princess ASKS about the ins and outs of dating. Boys, with their physical and sexual maturity just beginning to awaken, are suddenly surrounded by a horde of newly attractive and unnervingly gigantic girls. Yikes!
Most eighth-graders concerns are related to friends, family, and school. Honestly, it’s a social media nightmare at times. Are they going to be embarrassed? Will their BFF still be their friend tomorrow? Does he like me like me, or just like me? You get the drift.
So as a writer, how do you connect with such a tough audience, who’s not quite grown up, yet feel that all systems are go and are ready to wear bigger shoes? One way is to hook into their characteristics, and extract a much needed trait or a combination of traits to make your characters feel authentic to your readers. In order to do this, we need to take a look at what makes an eighth-grader tick.
Here are Eight 8th Grader Characteristics:
1. Can be touchy, and express anger easily.
2. Music is increasingly important to them, as is technology and the latest got-to-have gadget.
3. Sarcasm is a prevalent quality. (I use that one a lot!)
4. As their self-concept develops, they can be withdrawn or prone to challenging others. They struggle with a sense of identity.
5. Abstract reasoning skills are strengthening and expanding.
6. May test limits and rules, but also develop ideals and choose role models.
7. Skin problems may be emerging, boys’ voices are changing, and girls are menstruating. Personal hygiene and self-confidence become issues.
8. May begin to experiment with sex and substances.
Remember, readers this age are looking for escape, to experience things they can’t in their own lives. Being attuned to how they think, and what they’re feeling is a step in the right direction to creating a story that will keep this age group turning page after page of your latest tween read!