Mysteries are great books to help keep kids engaged in reading. All of the following books contain mysteries that are fun to solve. Some are more difficult in determining the perpetrator, but that makes for a good challenging read. All of these books are good for ages nine and up, unless otherwise indicated.
The Detective’s Assistant, by Kate Hannigan, is a mystery with historical facts woven throughout. The story takes place prior to the Civil War and Nell is helping out at her Aunt Kitty’s detective agency. Nell is very clever and devises ways to crack codes and get suspects to confess. She also has a dear friend, Jemma, who is African American and this is where you get insight into slavery at this time in history. The book is loosely based on the first female detective, Kate Warne. There are also codes and riddles to solve throughout – with answers found at the back of the book.
Ruby Redfort: Catch Your Death, by Lauren Child, who is one of my favorite children’s mystery authors, is another book full of codes waiting to be cracked. Ruby is in her element when it comes to solving a mystery and there’s one in town. When some expensive jewelry suddenly disappears, Ruby is on the case. This is a fun one to solve!
One Witch at a Time, by Stacy DeKeyser, is a delightful fantasy adventure rich with mystery and a retelling of Jack and the Beanstalk. When his friend trades his cow for magic beans, he becomes entangles with mysterious girls, a cross giant and accepting responsibility. This is a page-turner so you’d better make time or you’ll be reading all night!
Masterminds, by Gordan Korman, who is another favorite mystery author of mine, is an amazing story filled with mystique and danger. When Eli and his friend, Randy, leave the town of Serenity’s city limits, they are about to walk into the biggest mystery of the book. This is another page-turner that you will not want to put down until the very end. It would be a great read aloud as well.
Smashie McPerter and the Mystery of Room 11, by N. Griggin, and with illustrations sprinkled throughout by Kate Hindley, involves Smashie and her friend, Dontel, as they search for the missing hamster who seems to have suddenly vanished. They have more mysteries to solve as well, such as who is secretly gluing items onto people. Between investigating and using scientific reasoning, they help save the day! This book is a delight and is perfect for ages seven through nine.
Honey, by Sarah Weeks, is a mystery when Melody hears her father calling someone on the phone, “Honey”. Who is this woman? Since Melody lost her mother when she was born, her father and grand-father have been the center of her life. Now, she’s noticing her father’s distracted behavior and constant whistling. He seems extra happy. This warm story will surprise you when you finally discover who “honey” is. There is also a subplot mystery about a dog who is trying to find an owner. The entire story comes together at the end and it will surely bring a smile to your face.
Woof, by Spencer Quinn, is a warm, funny and sometimes a bit scary mystery told through the eyes of a mutt, Bowser. He is a very intelligent dog who uses his past experiences living on the streets before eleven-year-old Birdie adopted him. Bowser helps Birdie solve a mystery involving a valuable heirloom stolen from her granny’s Louisiana home. The story is so engaging and is extremely well written. You begin to feel like you’re living on the bayous with this twosome. The ending leaves the reader with a distinct cliffhanger and there will be more books coming.
Tombquest: Book of the Dead, by Michael Northrop, is the first book in a planned 5-book series. Book 2: Amulet Keepers, has already been published and is as good as the first book. The first book begins with Alex as a very sick boy who spends most of his time helping his mother work on a new Egyptian exhibit. But when his health becomes life or death, his mother uses an ancient spell book to save him. But using it has brought out the five Death Walkers. And now his mom has suddenly disappeared. This page turning mystery is rich with great vocabulary, information about ancient Egypt, magic and wild adventure. You’ll be glad there are more books coming!
Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery in Mayan Mexico, by Marcia Wells, is the second book in a series but you need not read the first book to enjoy this mystery. Eddie is a talented sleuth partly because he has a photographic memory. This is a great asset as it helps him remember items or people whom he suspects. He also has an uncanny ability to draw so he’s able to put down on paper what or whom he just suspected. When he vacations in Mexico, a valuable mask is stolen. He and his best friend team up to solve the mystery. His drawings, by Marcos Calo, are found throughout the book. You’ll want to read the first book as well: “Mystery on Museum Mile”.
Pieces and Players, by another favorite mystery author, Blue Balliett, is a very intelligent and engaging mystery. When 13 valuable pieces of art go missing, the five kids, with the help of their teacher, use deductive reasoning and analytical skills to solve the mystery. There are red herrings found along the way, making this hard to solve. But it’s great fun and a good use of brain power to bring all of the clues together for the solution.
Beneath, by Roland Smith, is another exciting story by one of the best mystery authors. Pat is in search of his brother who seems to have found a complete community living deep underground beneath New York City. As he searches through tunnels, he experiences claustrophobia and more mysteries evolve as this high octane story unfolds. Because the book ends with a cliffhanger, there must be more books planned to be published. This book is good for ages ten through fourteen.