We love a good mystery book around here. Mysteries are a great choice, especially for young children, because kids can use their deductive reasoning skills, search for clues and pretend to be sleuths, all while strengthening reading skills. Here is our ultimate list of mystery books for kids, from picture books to chapter books, there is something for every young reader.
Mystery Picture Books
What the Ladybug Heard, by Julia-Donaldson and illustrated by Lydia Monks.
When two thieves plot to steal the prize cow in a noisy farmyard, no one hears them except for the tiny and very quiet ladybug. Can she save the day and rescue the cow? This sweet story is perfect for even the youngest readers.
Baby Monkey, Private Eye by Brian Selznick and David Serlin.
This is one of our favorite books and my littlest one can read it over (and over) again. While this may seem like a chapter book, it is decidedly a picture book as well! Baby Monkey, who is adorably drawn, sits in his big office and the cases come to him! We join. Baby Monkey as he searches for clues, puts on his pants, has a snack (always), and finds the culprits!
I Want My Hat Back, by Jon Klassen.
Bear has lost his hat and kids of all ages will love helping him as he searches high and low to find it. Bear asks each animal he comes across if they have seen it, but only deer is able to point him in the right direction!
The Mystery of the Missing Cake, by Claudia Boldt.
For Harold, our super sleuth in this story, today (and every day) is the perfect day for solving mysteries and eating cheese. When Harold attends a costume birthday party, he must put his mystery solving skills to use in order to find…the missing cake and save the day!
Mystery Books for Early Readers
Nate the Great, by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and illustrated by Marc Simont.
Kids will love to play detective and help Nate the Great solve the mystery of the lost picture in this charming first book of the series. Can Nate help his friend Annie find her picture? Only if he gets all the facts, narrows the list of suspects and asks the right questions!
The Haunted Library, by Dori Hillestad Butler.
Looking for a chapter book that is just the right balance of mystery, excitement and ghostly adventure? Kaz the ghost is separated from his ghost family, but when he and Claire (a real girl who lives above the town library) become friends, there’s nothing that can stop them from solving the town’s mysteries.
A to Z Mysteries Series by Ron Roy and illustrated by John Steven Gurney.
These fast-paced mysteries will have kids racing to find clues and solves the cases! From Author to Zombie, there’s something for every little detective.
Ada Lace, by Emily Calandrelli with Tamson Weston and illustrated by Renee Kurilla.
This series about Ada Lace, an eight-year-old girl scientist and inventor, has a knack for solving mysteries with technology, science and math. In the first book, we join Ada to end out as she investigates the mystery of her neighbor’s missing dog!
Inspector Flytrap by Tom Angleberger and illustrated by Cece Bell.
Yes, Inspector Flytrap is a Venus flytrap. And yes, he and his sidekick, Nina the Goat, solve mysteries all around town together. This sometimes silly and always hilarious series is sure to be a hit!
Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew, by Carolyn Keene and illustrated by Macky Pamintuan.
Nancy Drew is back, this time with her friends George and Bess. Join them as they work together to solve mysteries big and small! In this first book of the series, they must find a missing doll at a sleepover before the party is ruined!
Mystery Books for Advanced Readers (usually ages 7-10)
Encylopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol.
A favorite series from my childhood (ahem), these mystery books still appeal to kids today. Leroy Brown, aka Encyclopedia Brown, is the young detective – with a knack for trivia – who solves cases big and small in his neighborhood. We love pretending to be detectives and using the clues to help Encyclopedia solve the case!
Cam Jansen by David A. Adler and illustrated Susanna Natti.
Cam Jansen is an amateur detective with a photographic memory. She and her friend Eric solve mysteries together, and we love joining them for the ride!
Mac B., Kid Spy by The Crown Jewels have been stolen, and the only person who can help the Queen of England is secret agent, Mac B. This fast-paced (and humorous) series will keep readers engrossed, and guessing, until the last page!
Secret Agent Jack Stalwart, by Elizabeth Singer Hunt.
Jack Stalwart, a nine-year-old boy who is an ordinary kid by day and a secret agent by night, travels the world fighting evil, collecting clues and searching for his missing brother, Max. The series features exciting travels, thrilling adventures and fascinating clues.