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10 Best Mystery Books for Kids Reviewed in 2020

last updated Aug 13, 2019

Judged on educational and entertainment value, capacity, and age range, the list of the best mystery books for kids is a nice mixture for both little and big kids to read. They all have the best ratings and reviews online from buyers who would purchase them again. Mysteries are important to introduce early in a child’s life to make them question things. In these unique volumes, there are clues, puzzles, hints, and happenings that don’t make sense to get the child to begin the critical thinking process.

It is much like a game of process of elimination in finding who is to blame or what is the cause by knowing the other components and people are not involved. Only then can the crime or happening be truly solved with proof. We hope you find one or two books on this terrific list that will interest your child.

In a Hurry? The test winner after 40 hrs of research

icon
Holes
94/100 our score
Entertainment Value
94
Age Range
93
Capacity
95
Educational Value
94
Holes
Why is it better?

Has over 2500 reviews online

Kindle, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook

Given the National Book Award and the Newberry Medal award

Tale of a boys’ camp and a curse on a family

For grades 5 to 6 and ages 10 and older

In a Hurry? Editors choice:
Holes
Test Winner: Holes
Amazon Link
Researched Sources
30
Researched Sources
Hours Researching
40
Hours Researching
Products Evaluated
27
Products Evaluated
Sorting Options
Entertainment Value Age Range Capacity Educational Value By Default
Rank
PictureProduct
Name
Rating
Shops
#1
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94
Entertainment Value
94 %
Age Range
93 %
Capacity
95 %
Educational Value
94 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (02.12.20)
Amazon Link
$7.99
#2
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92
Entertainment Value
93 %
Age Range
90 %
Capacity
92 %
Educational Value
93 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (02.12.20)
Amazon Link
$4.99
#3
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.5
Entertainment Value
93 %
Age Range
88 %
Capacity
90 %
Educational Value
91 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (02.12.20)
Amazon Link
$55.93
#4
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.8
Entertainment Value
92 %
Age Range
87 %
Capacity
87 %
Educational Value
89 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (02.12.20)
Amazon Link
$15.63
#5
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
87
Entertainment Value
90 %
Age Range
86 %
Capacity
84 %
Educational Value
88 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (02.12.20)
Amazon Link
$7.79
#6
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85.3
Entertainment Value
89 %
Age Range
84 %
Capacity
83 %
Educational Value
85 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (02.12.20)
Amazon Link
$5.67
#7
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
84
Entertainment Value
87 %
Age Range
82 %
Capacity
83 %
Educational Value
84 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (02.12.20)
Amazon Link
$4.99
#8
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82
Entertainment Value
85 %
Age Range
82 %
Capacity
81 %
Educational Value
80 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (02.12.20)
Amazon Link
$0.99
#9
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
80.5
Entertainment Value
83 %
Age Range
81 %
Capacity
79 %
Educational Value
79 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (02.12.20)
Amazon Link
$83.85
#10
The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
78.8
Entertainment Value
78 %
Age Range
80 %
Capacity
78 %
Educational Value
79 %
Price Comparison Last Updated (02.12.20)
Amazon Link
$6.94

10 Best Mystery Books for Kids Reviewed

1. Holes

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
94
Holes book
Amazon Link
Entertainment Value
94
Age Range
93
Capacity
95
Educational Value
94
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$7.99

Has over 2500 reviews online

Kindle, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook

Given the National Book Award and the Newberry Medal award

Tale of a boys’ camp and a curse on a family

For grades 5 to 6 and ages 10 and older

More for boys than girls

Ending was terrible said a few people

Written by Louis Sachar, Holes is illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky and Bagram Ibatoulline and has over 2500 reviews online from mostly happy customers.

Read more

Offered in the formats of Kindle, paperback, hardcover, and audiobook, it is best for ages ten and older and for grades fifth to sixth. Given the National Book Award and the Newberry Medal Award, it has 241 pages for the reader. It is the tale of a boys’ camp and a curse on the family of Yelnats. To build character, holes are dug by the boys each day at Camp Green Lake. It is soon revealed that the warden of the camp is looking for something in the ground and using them to find it. A true mystery for little kids to enjoy.

Entertainment value

Who doesn’t want to know about the Yelnats family and their adventures? This tale follows some boys that are placed in a camp where holes are dug each day at the orders of the warden.

Age range

Those in the fifth and sixth grades or kids ten years old and older are the ideal candidates for this product. they have the skills to read at this level and understand what they are reading.

Capacity

With 241 pages, you can expect many twists and turns in the volume. It is not a book to be read in one sitting, so children can indulge in the story often until it is finished.

Educational value

The clues and the hints along the way in this boys’ camp story will leave readers with a sense of accomplishment when they figure it out. Up until that point, kids will hang on every page for more details.

2. The Boxcar Children

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
92
The Boxcar Children
Amazon Link
Entertainment Value
93
Age Range
90
Capacity
92
Educational Value
93
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$4.99

Offered in audiobook, Kindle, paperback, and hardcover

For grades 1 to 5 and ages 7 to 10

Story of four siblings that are orphans

Over thirty great illustrations

Started a long-running book series and film

Was boring for several people

Narrator was not good

This Boxcar Children Mysteries Book 1 is the first of the series written by Gertrude Chan Chandler Warner and illustrated by L. Kate Deal. It is the story of four siblings that are orphans who try to stay together.

Read more

The Alden Family consists of Jessie, Henry, Benny, and Violet who find a boxcar and make it home. It is one of the top novels for children on the School Library Journal list. Offered in audiobook, Kindle, paperback, and hardcover, it has 161 pages and is great for ages seven to ten and grades first to fifth. There are over thirty great illustrations in this first volume that started a long-running book series and animated film.

Entertainment value

Exciting adventures begin with an interesting plot. This one has the start of the four kids and their taking on the boxcar to live in. The fun begins there for this pack that wants to remain together.

Age range

Those ages seven to ten in grades first to fifth are the right candidates for reading this volume. It is for their age level with the correct vocabulary that they will not stumble over.

Capacity

With just 161 pages, children can read through this book fairly quickly. It begins the groundwork of the series in telling readers of the important Alden details.

Educational value

Kids not only get to solve the mysteries that come up in this first volume about the Alden family but also learn how to appreciate the family members they have and the home they live in.

3. Nancy Drew Starter Set

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
90.5
Nancy Drew Starter Set
Amazon Link
Entertainment Value
93
Age Range
88
Capacity
90
Educational Value
91
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$55.93

Comes as Kindle and hardcover editions

Starter set of the Nancy Drew Mysteries

Great gift for longtime fans or aspiring detectives

Packed together in a box set

The age range is 8 to 12; grade range is third to seventh

Glue on binding was coming off for a couple of people

Some did not get the set box

The Nancy Drew Starter Set of five books comes as Kindle and hardcover edition. Written by Carolyn Keene, this is the starter ser of the Nany Drew mysteries.

Read more

It is a great gift for longtime fans or aspiring detectives. Packed together in a box set, the age range is eight to twelve-year-olds and the grade level is third to seventh. Titles include The Hidden Staircase, The Mystery at Lilac Inn, The Secret of the Old Clock, the Secret of Shadow Dance, and The Bungalow Mystery.

Entertainment value

Who would not want to read such titles as The Hidden Staircase and The Bungalow Mystery. These books just pop with excitement and adventure for both boys and girls.

Age range

The grades of third to seventh are best suited for these incredible books. They understand the vocabulary and can follow the story with understanding and suspicion.

Capacity

There are many Nancy Drew books and mysteries for kids to read and collect. This set has five of them to whet their appetites and get children interested in fun mysteries.

Educational value

Nancy Drew is a classic kids mystery book series that never goes out of style or fashion. Kids learn from it how to read and look for clues to the mysteries to solve. This is a starter set of five books.

4. Hardy Boys Starter Set

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
88.8
Hardy Boys Starter Set
Amazon Link
Entertainment Value
92
Age Range
87
Capacity
87
Educational Value
89
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$15.63

Hardcover, Kindle, and paperback

Includes five great books

Comes in the collectible box

For grades 3 to 7 and ages 8 to 12

Updated to include modern gadgets

Some said the stories have not aged very well

A few people received used copies

The Hardy Boys Starter Set is authored by Franklin W Dixon for grades third to seventh and ages eight to twelve. This book group includes five great books for kids to take an interest in fun mysteries.

Read more

Available in hardcover, Kindle, and paperback, these books come in the collectible box to keep them in. surprisingly, the stories have been updated to include modern gadgets that kids are familiar with such as cellphones and computers. The titles include The Tower Treasure, The Secret of the Old Mill, Hunting for Hidden Gold, the House on the Cliff, and The Missing Chums

Entertainment value

They will not know which title to read first because each one sounds so exciting and adventurous. Hunting for Hidden Gold sounds like a winner and so does The Missing Chums.

Age range

Eight to twelve years old will love to learn about the Hardy Boys in their classic tales of solving mysteries in their own unique way. younger children will like the mystery stories but might not be able to understand some of the vocabulary yet.

Capacity

The five included books are the first five that were written under this name. combined they cover many pages of non-stop searching and hunting for clues to solve puzzles that the characters find.

Educational value

Reading has many benefits for the child, but reading mysteries make the child dig deeper into the stories and the meaning of the story. It is much more than just perusing the pages.

5. Gravity Falls Dipper's and Mabel's Guide

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
87
Gravity Falls Dipper's and Mabel's Guide
Amazon Link
Entertainment Value
90
Age Range
86
Capacity
84
Educational Value
88
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$7.79

Comes in hardcover and Kindle versions

How to solve mysteries and secret code

Full-color images and a poster

Activities, quizzes, tips, and quirky humor

For ages 8 to 12 and grades 3 to 7

Posters were missing said a few users

Is more of an activity book than a storybook

Authored by Shane Houghton and Rob Renzetti and illustrated by Stephanie Ramirez, Gravity falls Dipper’s and Mabel’s Guide to Mystery comes in hardcover and Kindle editions.

Read more

It gives advice from the cartoon character kids on how to solve and handle mysteries and secret codes. There are fun quizzes from Mabel, activities, tips, and quirky humor for ages eight to twelve and grades third to seventh. The 160 pages have full-color images, funny journal entries, and a poster that is double-sided.

Entertainment value

As an activity book full of mystery fun, this item uses the cartoon characters named to guide kids through the pages and become quite a sleuth in solving mysteries.

Age range

Those under the age of twelve will enjoy this volume the most because it is an inquisitive age that wants to think logically and come up with the answers to fun riddles and quizzes.

Capacity

In the 160 pages of this hilarious and unique tale, children will love all they can do to solve the puzzles and get the answers correct. It has many activities for groups of kids too.

Educational value

Mysteries give the child an opportunity to think outside the box and come up with a solution on their own for the clues presented in the story. They are highly educational and beneficial.

6. Book Scavenger

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
85.3
Book Scavenger
Amazon Link
Entertainment Value
89
Age Range
84
Capacity
83
Educational Value
85
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$5.67

Authored by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

Paperback, hardcover, audiobook, and Kindle

For ages 9 to 14 and grades 4 to 6

Story of a book lover who idolizes a creator

Award winner several times

Characters not appealing said a few

Boring book to several people

The Book Scavenger is authored by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman and comes in the versions of paperback, hardcover, audiobook, and Kindle.

Read more

There are 367 pages for the reading level of nine to fourteen-year-olds and grade fourth to sixth. This is the story of a book lover who idolizes a creator and book publisher for his series of Book Scavenger books. The author in the story was attacked and needs he help. Emily and her friend James hurry in solving the clues and finding the secret of the author’s fun game. This terrific book is a winner of the Triple Crown Award and a nominee for many other awards.

Entertainment value

This is a book about a book scavenger. Just this makes it interesting and twisty, but the plot thickens as the story unfolds and introduces some exciting characters who are in on the game.

Age range

Made for the older child of nine to fourteen, this tale keeps the reader interested and gives them clues to finding the author’s game that is the goal of the hunt.

Capacity

This is one of the larger books we feature on this page. It is best for older kids that have an established vocabulary when reading and some abilities to solve puzzles.

Educational value

Just the huge number of pages to read will improve the reading skills of children. because it is a mystery, they must think to solve the case and develop a solution.

7. Secret Agent 6th Grader

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
84
Secret Agent 6th Grader
Amazon Link
Entertainment Value
87
Age Range
82
Capacity
83
Educational Value
84
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$4.99

For grades 3 to 7 and ages 9 to 12

Comes in paperback and Kindle versions

Brody Valentine becomes a secret agent

A superior mystery just for kids

Adults and older kids will love this story

Might not be as described

Some were not interested

The Secret Agent Sixth Grader is for grades third to seventh and ages nine to twelve. It comes in paperback and Kindle versions and has 124 pages in total.

Read more

Written by Noah Child and Marcus Emerson, it is about a kid named Brody Valentine who becomes a secret agent in the sixth grade. He has access to a dangerous secret. This is a superior mystery just for kids, but even adults and older kids will love this sleuth story.

Entertainment value

This is a book about a sixth-grader that will be read by the average sixth-grader. Kids love to read about those their own age to relate well to the happenings and events.

Age range

Kids in the age range of nine to twelve are ideal for understanding this book about a sixth-grader. The ideas and details will be lost on younger children, but older ones will still like the superb scenes and characters.

Capacity

The 124 pages of this volume have plenty to tell the reader of the secret agent and his times at school. Interested children will be able to peruse it in a single day as it is not thick but interesting.

Educational value

It may be necessary to re-read these mystery books for kids in order to understand all the given clues and answer the questions of why. Thinking critically takes practice, and this is a great one for beginners.

8. Summer of the Woods

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
82
Summer of the Woods
Amazon Link
Entertainment Value
85
Age Range
82
Capacity
81
Educational Value
80
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$0.99

For ages 8 to 12 and grades of 2 to 6

Available in paperback, hardcover, audiobook, and Kindle

Reads like a Hardy Boys book but with adventure

Tells of two brothers and summer adventures

Bits of Virginia history, events, and locations there

Some did not like it – boring

Was too short and quick for a few people

Summer of the Woods is for ages eight to twelve and grades of second to sixth. It has 148 pages and is available in paperback, hardcover, audiobook, and Kindle.

Read more

Written by Steven K Smith, this is the first book of this highly popular children's mystery book series . It reads like a Hardy Boys book but with lots more adventure. This tale tells of two small brothers who move to Virginia for summer adventures. They explore secret caves, hidden passageways, and rushing waters during their fun-filled days. It has bits of Virginia history in the tale and information of events and locations there.

Entertainment value

Children will love reading of the summer adventures of this duo who seem to have endless fun outdoors. They become involved in so many physically involving offered in paperback and audio CD versions.

Age range

Those in grades of second to sixth will appreciate and grasp the wording of this middle-grade book. Vocabulary building is an important part of reading and understanding, and this book helps with that.

Capacity

With 148 pages of adventurous excitement, the two Virginia brothers get involved in endless schemes that keep them busy all summer long. Kids will read this volume quickly and want to move on to the next books.

Educational value

Kids will learn about Virginia with this story as it is packed with history, events, and locations that are important to the state and its people. Their reading skills will get a workout too.

9. A to Z Mysteries

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
80.5
A to Z Mysteries
Amazon Link
Entertainment Value
83
Age Range
81
Capacity
79
Educational Value
79
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$83.85

Written by Ron Roy

Includes 26 books of mysteries

Activities that have a moral lesson

Thin and can read one in a sitting

Colorful set with books of various colors

Missing books in the set

Children in the stories get in dangerous situations

The A to Z Mysteries comes in a 26-book set of mysteries written by Ron Roy. They contain activities that have a moral lesson.

Read more

Each one is thin and can be read easily within one sitting. This is a colorful set with books of various shades that look good on the shelf in its storage box or as reading material for several kids. Avid readers will breeze right through the box set to be able to experience all the mysteries and adventure contained in each one.

Entertainment value

Using the alphabet is a unique way to have a book series and get people to purchase all 26 of these before they are gone. This is where being fast can be advantageous.

Age range

A specific age range was not given for this item, but it is safe to assume that middle-aged children of seven to twelve would like these the most. The colors look great in any kid’s room.

Capacity

This is the largest boxed set of mystery books for kids that we spotlight in the buying guide for kids. The many books will keep kids busy for hours at a time in progressive and positive reading.

Educational value

Having such an alphabetized set will teach kids how to read things in a sequence and in order if they follow the alphabet for reading the books. Patience is a learned talent that must begin early.

10. Brainwashed

The rating is based on the average rating (1-100) from all the criteria in which we rated this product.
78.8
Brainwashed
Amazon Link
Entertainment Value
78
Age Range
80
Capacity
78
Educational Value
79
best offer for today
Amazon Link
$6.94

Ages 9 to 12 and grades 2 to 8

Paperback, audiobook, and Kindle

First book of a well-known series

Global awareness, humor, adventure, and action

Geographic references of 300 places with maps

Not interesting for some kids

Too long for a few buyers

Available in paperback, audiobook, and Kindle, Brainwashed: Crime Travelers is the first book of a well-known children's mystery book series that is ideal for ages nine to twelve and grades from second to eighth.

Read more

Reading the story is wonderful as children follow along and keep up with the plot. Along the way, they will encounter the topics of global awareness, humor, adventure, and action. There are geographic references of 300 places with maps that little ones can learn about and ask questions.

Entertainment value

For those interested in geography and history, this book will be hard to put down. Each new page contains more and more things to learn about our world and all that is in it.

Age range

Nine-year-olds and up will be able to understand the places, maps, and story of this often-twisting tale of positive brainwashing with facts and data of our environment.

Capacity

The size of the book was not given in the product description, but it has to be a large volume for the huge amount of information that it contains to entertain children.

Educational value

The geographic activities and introductions are the best parts of this volume. There are 300 places and extra maps for the child to explore and identify with the many activities.

Criteria Used for Evaluation

Age Range

Because these mystery books for kids are all so different it is hard to come up with a general age range for all of them. If the child is six or seven and has a good grasp of vocabulary for their grade level, then try them with a few of these books. If kids struggle with the words and understanding of the material, then just put them away for a future time. They will gain the skills to read them another time. Some of these volumes are mystery books for tweens while others are easier and better for little kids.

Capacity

We listed the page amounts in this section for each product, so you will know exactly how long each book is. The length of a book may not seem important, but it is. If a child has a very long book, they will not want to keep reading or even get started because it is such a long way to the end. Thinner books are better, especially for those still building their basic vocabularies. Both thin and thick books are presented in this list.

Entertainment Value

The best mystery books for kids are some of the most exciting of all book types because they are not just straight reading with a happy ending. There are twists and turns, plots, clues, tricks, and deception all along the way. Children must notice every detail that is mentioned and figure out how each is important to the story. The fun characters and storyline make each one of these volumes so fun and enjoyable for tots.

Educational Value

Building reading talents does not have to be boring, especially if the reading material is pleasant and marvelous. As kids build their vocabularies, they will learn how to solve mysteries and have a critical mind in looking at all of the details offered.

They learn more from mysteries than any other book type because the question of why keeps popping up to figure out what is going on. Solving the puzzle is even more rewarding when the story is finished.

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Parents, Did You Know?

Mysteries for kids provide delight and suspense with the many clues. This book type gives powerful skills to the reader. They have a lot of details that are important in solving the puzzle, and they get the reader to ask the question of why.

Parents, Did You Know?

Sometimes paragraphs and whole stories must be read again to notice important clues that were not noticed the first time. Reading skills are improved this way in a fun way. find the level that is best for your child and get them that level.

Other Factors to Consider

Style

The wonderful style of these books for kids is mystery. From the Hardy Boys to Nancy Drew, both little and big kids will be enthralled with the writing styles of the authors who penned these books with the kids in mind. Most of these are storybooks with an ending of a dilemma to solve. A couple of others are more like activity books in their quizzes, exercises, mazes, and puzzles. They all make the kid think and act quickly on their feet.

Logic

In order to solve any puzzle or mystery, children must first learn how to question the things that they see and hear. If something does not sound right, then they must have the initiative to question it and go looking for the answers. Critical thinking comes in when they try to solve the problem in the story and come up with the right answer. It is always fun to try with guessing, but when you can really figure it out on your own and get the correct answer, you feel wonderful and rewarded.

Frequently Asked Questions

q: How can you tell if a book is within the reading level of the child?

a:

Do the five-finger check to see if the reading level is appropriate for the child. As a child reads a page in a book, have them hold up the five fingers of one hand. When they do not know one of the printed words, get them to place a finger down. If they have all the fingers down by the time the page is done, then the reading is too hard for the child.

q: How can you determine if the wording or vocabulary in a book is above the child’s ability to comprehend it?

a:

Check the comprehension by asking what the reading is about after a couple of pages of reading. Kids must understand what they are reading always for it to be worth the time in going over the words. If they do not understand and cannot relate the story, then go over it with them or put it away and work on some vocabulary building exercises to help them gain those skills.

q: What is a complaint repeated in the customer feedback online about these mystery books?

a:

We found most often the comment that kids were not interested in a particular book. This is going to happen because it even happens with adults. How many times have you picked up a book that looked interesting only to find out that it is indeed quite boring? The same happens for children. the reading level may be over their head or beneath them to be very boring. Try the simple tests at the beginning of this FAQ section to see which it is. If the child does not know some of the words in the text, then they cannot possibly understand the story and are naturally bored with it.

q: Are these all reading books or are some of them activity books too?

a:

Yes, there are a few mystery activities books on the list. We let you know which ones they are in the information. The majority of these volumes, though, are reading books that present some clues and expect the child to solve the mystery. If you read along with the child, try to point out important parts of the details to get them to notice them and make a mental note. This is training them on how to think while reading and to collect facts along the way. Then, in the end, all will make sense and the issue will be clear.

q: What should parents do if kids cannot solve the mystery of the book when it is finished?

a:

The child may want to re-read the book or have you help them with the thought process in solving the clues. They will let you know how to proceed in getting them on the right track. Going over the clues with them could spark some ideas on how to solve the problem. Asking them some questions about important facts could also get them thinking critically and in the right direction.

q: Are these mystery books good for those that do not have the reading abilities yet to read on their own?

a:

Yes, parents or older kids can read to the smaller ones to get them interested in reading and the vocabulary of mystery books. You have to start somewhere, so why not with someone else who can read the books well? You not only entertain them with an interesting story but also have the opportunity for some quality time. In the reading of the story, little kids will pick up on the new words they do not know and use the pictures to work out their meanings.

Sources

  1. VANESSA DIAZ, 50 MUST-READ MYSTERY BOOKS FOR KIDS, Online Article
  2. MARIA MINSKER, Improve Reading Skills With Mystery Books, Online Article
  3. Louise Baigelman, MEd, 4 Steps to Choosing Books at Your Child’s Reading Level, Online Article