We've curated a list of must-read mystery books for kids, as recommended by parents. Young readers love stories about detective work, sleuthing, and deciphering clues to solve crimes and accomplish great missions! Some titles make our epic list of timeless children's books, too.
Parents, upvote your favorites and submit additional book recommendations below.
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Grades 1 - 4
Shila: Ron Roy's A-Z Mysteries are simple mystery books for kids that follow three 9-year-old detectives who uncover secrets and solve local crimes around town. From The Absent Author to The Zombie Zone, the titles in each book capture a creative use of alliteration. Go on to read A to Z Mysteries Super Edition for additional adventures that are slightly longer and more in depth.
Harriet the Spy
Shila: Harriet is a regular kid, and double agent, who has the uncanny ability to spot clues left and right. Her character is renowned for being a little mischievous, yet wildly determined to solving mysteries and holding culprits accountable. In this series, by Louise Fitzhugh, young readers are attracted to the "art" of amateur spying and collecting unsuspecting evidence.
Shila: Four orphaned siblings make an abandoned boxcar their home in these classic mystery books, originally created in 1942, by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Everywhere this family goes, there's another mystery to solve. Young readers remain impressed at how well these amateur sleuths work to solve clues on their own, with little to no adult supervision.
Magic Treehouse and Merlin Missions
Shila: Two kids, Jack and Annie, embark on fantastical missions once they step foot in their treehouse. Mary Pope Osborne's Magic Treehouse is an adventure mystery series that transports readers to wonderous places and periods of time. There are well over 50 titles in this mixed genre: historical fiction, fantasy, and mystery for kids.
The Mysterious Benedict Society
Grades 3 - 7
Shila: The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart, are great mystery books for tweens and young teens. With more riddles, brain teasers and puzzle detail to grip, this 5-book series especially appeals to a more advanced elementary or young middle school reader. Unravel intelligent mysteries page after page!
The Haunted Library
Kelly R.: In The Haunted Library series, a girl and her ghost friend work together to solve a variety of mysteries. This is a fun one for young chapter book readers who enjoy spooky stories!
The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency
Shila: The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency is run by two incredibly intelligent tween girls investigating crimes and apprehending offenders. This popular whodunit is reminiscent of the great duo, Sherlock Holmes and John Watson. Geared for older elementary and middle school readers, this friendly mystery series promotes creative thinking, strong wit, and girl power.
Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew Collection
Shila: Nancy Drew books take readers on well over 50 original mysteries ranging from stolen property to supernatural oddities. Young readers, along with parents, can especially appreciate a smart female lead consistently in charge. The Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew Collection, by Carolyn Keene, has been published with a more modern set of mysteries geared for today's kids.
The Maze of Bones
Grades 4 - 7
Shila: This 10-title series, by Rick Riordan, is a mystery geared for older kids and tweens that contemplates the question: what is more important, money or power? There is a race to unravel 39 clues hidden around the world and two child descendants are on a thrilling mission to unlock a major family secret.
Shila: For every month of the year, kids can enjoy reading Ron Roy's Calendar Mysteries, featuring spin-off characters introduced from his other popular series, A-Z Mysteries. Each title's theme, time, and setting pertains to a different month of the year, from the January Joker to December Dog. Follow four child detectives as they romp around town solving one puzzling secret after another.
Hardy Boys: The Secret Files
Shila: Frank and Joe Hardy are featured as amateur detectives in this long-beloved mystery series for children and teens. From bicycle thieves to jewelry heists, the brother detectives, originally published in the 1920's, are back-in-action cracking codes in The Secret Files. The original books are fantastic options to read, as is this more child-friendly version adapted to more modern times.
Shila: David A. Kelly's easy-to-read Ballpark Mysteries, take readers on a sleuthing journey to some of the most famous U.S. Major League Baseball stadiums. From The Wrigley Riddle to The Fenway Foul-Up, young sports fans especially enjoy these baseball-themed escapades.
Primary photo: Markus Winkler on Unsplash
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