Great Mystery Chapter Books for Young Children
Children often love mysteries making them a great way to encourage reading. There are lots of mystery and crime book series available for young children. The following is a list of mystery chapter books for preschoolers and elementary age kids (4 to 12 year olds). I will provide approximate age ranges that I think the books are appropriate for. The age ranges are based on the assumption that a parent will be reading to the child.
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A to Z Mysteries
A to Z Mysteries follows the adventures of three friends Dink, Josh and Ruth Rose, who solve crimes. Each book is approximately 75-80 pages in length. These books are easy to understand and should be appropriate for ages 4 and up. The stories aren't frightening in any way.
There are 26 books in the main series and some specials as well, so there are approximately 30 books overall. The author is Ron Roy.
This is another Ron Roy series. It involves the younger brothers of Josh and Ruth Rose and Dink's cousin. Like the A to Z Mysteries, these books aren't frightening or upsetting in any way. There are 12 books in the series (January through December). Calendar Mysteries is appropriate for ages 4 and up.
Again, this is a series by Ron Roy that follows two children KC and Marshall. KC is the stepdaughter of the President. These books have some educational value because they relate to Washington DC and the presidency. There are more than a dozen books in the series. The books are good for ages 5 and up because they're a little harder to understand than Roy's other mystery series.
The Jigsaw Jones books are great for ages 4 and up. They are easy to read and understand. Each book has approximately 80 pages. Jigsaw and a friend named Mila solve simple mysteries for neighborhood kids.
Cabin Creek Mysteries
Cabin Creek Mysteries are more frightening and more suspenseful than a lot of other mystery books aimed at kids. But my very fearful child does read them by herself. The stories follow two brothers and their girl cousin. These are really great outdoor adventures. The stories are set on islands, lakes, cliffs and in the woods. These books should be very appealing to boys but girls should enjoy them too. Each book is over 150 pages in length. The books should be understandable to most 6 year olds. But you must determine if your child will be frightened by them or not. It may be a good idea to skim through each one before reading to your child.
This is an old British series of books by Enid Blyton. These stories can be a little more intense than a lot of modern mystery books for children but my daughter was addicted to them at the age of 5 and then reread them all herself. They can be read to kids age 5 and up but will require quite a bit of explanation to be understandable. The Famous Five books will appeal to children up to the early teens.
The books follow the adventures of Julian, Dick, Anne, George and Timmy the dog. There are 21 books in the series. Each book is more than 150 pages in length. A lot of these books are available on amazon.com. If you buy used you should be able to get many of them for less than $5. Unfortunately they aren't available to purchase as e-Books.
Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew
This is a little kid version of Nancy Drew mysteries. Nancy Drew and her friends solve mysteries using deductive reasoning. There are approximately 95 pages in each book and the stories are appropriate for ages 6 and up.
American Girl Mysteries
The American Girl Mysteries are recommended for ages 9 and up but can be read to ages 6 and up with explanations. These books are educational. Each "girl" lives in a different historical time period, so children will enjoy a mystery and learn about life in other times. For example, the Molly books feature a girl who lived during World War II. She discovers that a delivery man is stealing rationed food to sell on the black market. Samantha is a wealthy girl who lives at the turn of the century. She learns about tenements in New York.
There are also American Girl books that are not mysteries. The mystery books are more than 150 pages in length. The other books are approximately 70-80 pages. The mystery books may be easier to understand if you introduce the non-mystery books first. These books should be available in many libraries and are often affordable as digital downloads.
Cam Jansen Chapter Books
The Cam Jansen chapter books feature a girl named Cam (short for camera) who has a photographic memory. These books aren't ever frightening and are good for ages 4 and up. Cam has a good friend named Eric who helps her solve mysteries, which give the books appeal to boys as well as girls.
The Boxcar Children books follow the crime solving adventures of four children. The series contains 148 books, so they can keep children busy for along time. The books are available at many libraries and can easily be bought used. There are approximately 150 pages in each book. These books aren't frightening and are appropriate for ages 6 and up.
The Baby-Sitters Club Mystery Books
The Baby-Sitters Club has a series of mystery and super mystery books. There are 36 books in the mystery series and four super mystery books. The books are appropriate for 7 to 12 year olds. The books can be a little frightening at times, so they may not be a good option for very young kids. You should be able to find some of these at the library.
Encyclopedia Brown is a 10 year old boy with his own detective agency. The kids in his neighborhood come to him to solve their mysteries. These books aren't ever frightening. They're good for ages 6 and up. Readers are given all the clue's that Encyclopedia has and are given the chance to solve the mystery as well. Each book contains multiple shorter mysteries.
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