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Great mystery books for kids


Mystery novels are a literary staple for all ages, kids included. Kids love a good mystery, which can be a great way for children to exercise their critical thinking skills as they put together the pieces of the puzzle and figure out what happened. Dissecting the clues not only builds a child’s excitement, but can help them learn to pay attention to detail, which is tremendously helpful as they grow and develop. We’ve chosen mystery books with exciting plots, interesting characters, and stories that are complex enough to challenge kids while still giving them the opportunity to solve the mystery along with the characters.

Best Spy Novel

The Secret Keepers (Paperback)

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Children will be engrossed as Reuben begins to unwind the thrilling secrets of an extraordinary antique watch that holds the secret power of invisibility. As he unveils secret after secret, he begins to realize he is now in a compromising and dangerous situation. This novel will help open young readers’ minds as they examine clues and make connections to try to solve the mystery.

This is a novel perfect for re-reading as it can help children build skills in finding clues they may not have noticed their first time around. Positive messages of friendship and learning to trust one another add to the power of this read. This is a great option for children ages 8 to 12.

Best Historical Read

The Thief Lord (Paperback)

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This heart-pounding and eerie novel sets the scene for young readers to be fully engrossed in the lives of two orphaned boys who end up on the streets of Venice after the death of their mother. Bo and Prosper run away from their aunt, who wants to separate the boys. In the midst of their freedom, they stumble across a mysterious boy who is the leader of a rebellious regime and calls himself the Thief Lord.

This enticing novel will keep young ones on their toes as they begin to unravel the mystery of a beautiful, magical treasure as a private detective hired by their aunt attempts to chase them down. What will happen to Prosper and Bo as they delve deeper into their life of petty crime, and will they unravel the secrets of the Thief Lord? This is a great option for slightly more mature readers in the 9 to 12 age range.

Best Series

The False Prince (The Ascendance Series, Book 1) (Kindle Edition)

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As Sage becomes more caught up in a tangle of lies in his role as the king’s lost son, every step this defiant boy takes makes his situation more dangerous and compromising in this kingdom on the brink of civil war. Author Jennifer A. Nielsen knows exactly how to entice readers ages 10 and up in this mystery packed with thrills and deceit. By adding just the right amount of background, details and secrets, she sets the tone for readers to be fully immersed in solving the mystery.

As the beginning of a trilogy, this is a great option for those who want to get their kids involved in a story and keep them reading long after finishing the book.

Best for Book Lovers

Book Scavenger (The Book Scavenger series) (Paperback)

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In this fun and mysterious tale, we follow the adventures of a young girl named Emily, who has just moved to San Francisco, the home of her literary hero Garrison Griswold. Upon arriving in this city, she learns that a horrible thing has happened to him and he’s unable to finish the mysterious new game he was working on. As Emily and a new friend, James, embark on an adventure to solve the mystery of what happened to Griswold, danger lurks at every turn.

Children will enjoy reading this heartfelt book, which is filled with challenging codes and ciphers — as well as plenty of literary references — that will get children thinking as they read. This is a great option for readers ages 9 to 14.

Best Fantasy

The Glass Town Game (Hardcover)

List Price: $17.99 USD
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Providing your children with the correct balance of imagination and creativity can be difficult at a young age. Catherynne M. Valente’s novel “The Glass Town Game” helps readers over the age of 10 find just that balance in this intriguing story, which is based on the juvenile fantasies of classic authors Charlotte and Emile Brontë, the main characters in this fantastical mystery. In the story, the Brontë siblings escape from the harsh realities of their own difficult lives and into a world of make-believe they created, but it’s not quite the fantasy they envisioned.

Not only is this a beautiful and intriguing story, but it is a great introduction to history and important literary figures.

Expert Commentary 

“Lifelong readers develop the habit early on,” Kelsey Daubenmier says. “Mystery books are one of the many genres that can weave together problem-solving and critical thinking through the channel of reading. Success is a child seeking out reading on their own — and then you have the cross-over impact of success in school as well.”

Our Expert Consultant

Kelsey Daubenmier

Kelsey Daubenmier is a licensed primary school teacher with over 10 years of experience in primary education. Kelsey thoughtfully balances the demands of raising four children with the never-ending stack of papers to grade and lesson plans to prepare. In the last decade, Kelsey has gained experiences educating children as young as 5 and as old as 11. She is passionate about bringing the best possible baby and children’s products to you and your loved ones.