Mysteries, in my opinion, should not be dark or disturbing mentally. I didn’t want to develop a taste for horror or twisted themed books in our children’s hearts or in my own. I came up with a booklist that follows the biblical command to think on whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, commendable, and excellent. (Phil. 4:8). Still, parents may want to check out these books for content for themselves.
Mysteries can give us some of the best opportunities for exploring splendidly written, high quality literature. A student watching for clues makes for careful reading, while looking at the books analytically involves looking for patterns and critical thinking among other skills.
In general mysteries cover such a broad range of settings and subject matter that they can easily be integrated across many areas of the curriculum.
There are mysteries which rely on detecting patterns in the clues or codes, so they are great for focusing on math skills. There are mysteries set in different time periods and locations that bring in history and geography. Many mysteries include police officers or detectives which fit well with units on communities or crime and justice themes. There are great mysteries set in art museums or involving forgery. Finally a mystery allows us to dig into language arts topics such as characters and writing styles. Mystery, in particular, is a good vehicle for noticing and practicing plot writing techniques.
If you as a parent enjoyed books like Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, and The Hardy Boys when you were a child, here are more fantastic mysteries for your children in various age categories that will keep them reading all year long.
Some of our criterion for wholesome reading material – no matter the genre:
- beauty through character and integrity
- healthy adult relationships
- promotes strength of family unit
- if there is a later romantic relationship, it grows out of mutual admiration, respect, communication, connectivity
- sexual purity of characters
- evil characters demonstrate cruelty, wrong choices, and selfish behavior, and they are punished/conquered by good characters or through natural consequences
- good triumphs over evil
Mysteries by Grade or Age
Sugar Creek Gang Mystery books 1-6 by Paul Hutchens (The Swamp Robber/The Killer Bear/The Winter Rescue/The Lost Campers/The Chicago Adventure/The Secret Hideout)
The Hardy Boys Mystery series by Franklin W. Dixon (look for dates before 1959 to get the true originals without alterations. Older than that have been re-written.)
The Eleventh Hour: A Curious Mystery by Graeme Base, age 5-8+
The Mad Scientists’ Club (getting hard to find)
Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart – age 9+
Just David by
Piggins series by Jane Yolen, Gr. K-3.
Masterpiece by Elise Broach – Gr 3-6.
Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome; all ages!
Famous Five Collection by Enid Blyton – Adventure/mystery for 4-11 year olds
Enid Blyton Adventure Series – Adventure/mystery for 6-14 year olds
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein, Gr 3-7
Riley May series by Jill Osborne, Gr 3-6
Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol, Gr 4-6.
The Secret Of Copperhead Creek: One of 3 Culverton Kids Mystery Stories
The Mystery of Smugglers Cove (The Mystery Series, Book 1)
Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene (beyond #15 in the series I cannot vouch for content) Ages 8-13
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, Gr 3-7
The Cooper Kids Adventures #1-4 by Frank E. Peretti
Bad Day at Riverbend by Chris Van Allsburg, Gr 2-6.
The Boxcar Children Bookshelf (Mysteries, Books 1-12)
Journeyforth Novels from BJU Press
The Hank the Cowdog series by John Erickson, Gr 2-5.
Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsberg, Gr 3-6.
Greenglass House by Kate Milford, Gr 4-6
Nooks and Crannies by Jessica Lawson, Gr 4-7
Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken, Gr 3-7
Nightmare Academy (The Veritas Project) by
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Download the printable PDF here: “100 Whole-Hearted Books to Take Back the Culture.”
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