Stories are a big part of my children’s lives. My husband and I read regularly to them, and the oldest two sometimes read to us. But most often, my children read alone. They can frequently be found curled up in a comfy chair or stretched out on the hard floor with a book. And usually the book in their hands is a mystery.
Mysteries are fun to read. Their suspenseful storylines tend to “hook” even the most reluctant of readers. Besides that, mysteries can actually help learners become better at reading. Here are a couple of ways mysteries benefit readers of all ages.
Mysteries Encourage Attentiveness to Details
Whenever my children and I read a mystery together, we always try to guess the solution before the protagonist does. In order to do that, we have to pay close attention to the clues the author leaves in the text. That skill of paying close attention to details helps us every time we read.
Mysteries Encourage Rereading
Have you ever been surprised (even blindsided) by the ending of a mystery? Whenever I am surprised by an ending, I usually go back and read the book again to see if I can pick up on missed clues. Rereading is especially good for young readers because every time a young reader rereads the same book, he or she will comprehend more of it.
Below are some mysteries that my children and I have enjoyed. If you have any to add to our list, please let us know in a comment below.
• Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner: A series of books relating the adventures of the four Alden children with storylines that are easy for young children to follow and that broadly appeal to both genders
• Encyclopedia Brown series by Donald J. Sobol: A series of books about boy detective Encyclopedia Brown, with each book containing several short mysteries
• Cam Jensen series by David A. Adler: A series of books featuring Cam Jensen, a girl detective with a photographic memory
• Cul-de-sac Kids series by Beverly Lewis: Short books by a Christian author that revolve around a group of children solving neighborhood mysteries; excellent for kids transitioning into reading chapter books
• Three Cousins Detective Club by Elspeth Campbell Murphy: Short books by a Christian author with each book highlighting a different biblical theme (such as “love your neighbor”)
• Crimebusters, Inc., series by Milly Howard: Books by a Christian author that feature a group of friends who have started their own detective agency (The Case of the Dognapped Cat and The Case of the Sassy Parrot)
• Sherlock Jones series by Ed Dunlop: A series by a Christian author about adventurous pair Jasper (a.k.a. “Sherlock”) Jones and Penny Gordon
• Professor Van Dusen, the Thinking Machine by Jacques Futrelle: A classic* including ten short mystery stories that all highlight the brilliant logic of the eccentric protagonist Augustus S. F. X. Van Dusen
• Adventures of the Northwoods series by Lois Walfrid Johnson: Adventure/mystery books set in the early 1900s
• Jewel Cases: Five short classic* mysteries that have one thing in common—jewelry theft
• The Red House Mystery by A. A. Milne: A classic* murder mystery set in an old British mansion
• Scarhaven Keep by J. S. Fletcher: A classic* mystery involving playwright Richard Copplestone’s hunt for a famous missing actor
*This edition has been abridged to make it more accessible to today’s young adult readers. The language in the original manuscript has been modernized, and the plot has been streamlined for increased readability.