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Young Detectives

They're not named Agatha Christie or Mary Higgins Clark, but young readers definitely have their favorite mystery writers. Luckily, many detective and mystery books for kids — like Cam Jansen and Encyclopedia Brown — are part of a series so it's easy to keep kids reading, guessing, solving, and using their noodles. Check out these recommended mysteries for armchair detectives ages 0-9 to find books that'll interest and intrigue them.

Quotable Quotes: The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more you learn, the more places you'll go. -- Dr. Seuss

Alphabet Mystery

By: Audrey Wood
Illustrated by: Bruce Wood
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

When the lowercase x from Charley’s alphabet disappears, the other letters set off to find him. Young readers become detectives on the quest to find the lowercase letters and will rejoice when little x finds a way to rescue his rescuers from becoming alphabet soup.

Detective LaRue: Letters from the Investigation

By: Mark Teague
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Ike LaRue, famous correspondent (introduced in Dear Mrs. LaRue) known by readers as a four-legged letter writer with a flair for exaggeration now turns to solving the mysterious disappearance of neighborhood cats.

Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective

By: Donald Sobol
Illustrated by: Donald Sobol
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Encyclopedia Brown comes by his name honestly: he often seems like a walking book of knowledge. But this fifth grader knows how to put his knowledge to use — much to the disgust of the bad guys! At the end of each chapter, Encyclopedia Brown solves the mystery and readers are asked if they know how. The clever answers are at the book of the book.

I Spy Mystery: A Book of Picture Riddles

By: Jean Marzollo
Illustrated by: Walter Wick
Genre: Nonfiction, Mystery
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The I Spy books ask readers to use their sharp eyes to solve the rhyming riddles and identify the hidden objects on each page. The masterfully composed, intricate and crisp photographs are filled with readily recognizable images, just hidden out of sight.

Letters from Camp: A Mystery

By: Kate Klise
Illustrated by: M. Sarah Klise
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Three pairs of siblings, sent to a summer camp that helps brothers and sisters get along, must unite to overcome an adversary at Camp Happy Harmony. The mystery unfolds through letters, memos, Post-It notes, and delightful illustrations in this offbeat story with puzzle-like appeal.

Nate the Great

By: Marjorie Sharmat
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Meet Nate the Great, the neighborhood detective. He's just finishing up breakfast (pancakes, of course) when his friend Annie calls, asking his help to find a missing painting. Can Nate's keen powers of observation and deductive reasoning save the day?

Paws Off, Cheddarface

By: Geronimo Stilton
Illustrated by: Geronimo Stilton
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Geronimo Stilton narrates his cheesy saga of a reputation run amok. In this installment of the heavily illustrated, pun-filled series, the writer-detective-mouse must protect his reputation from an unscrupulous imposter.

The Mysteries of Harris Burdick

By: Chris Van Allsburg
Genre: Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

This book of mysterious and haunting pictures are paired with equally mysterious captions. They are supposedly from the collection of one Harris Burdick. What could they mean? Ordinary scenes become startling and astounding in these black and white illustrations.

The Talking T. Rex (An A to Z Mystery)

By: Ron Roy
Illustrated by: Jon Steven Gurney
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Friends and amateur detectives Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose set out to help their friend whose money for a new dinosaur museum has been stolen. Who could have gotten into the life-sized Tyrone the Tyrannosaurus and why?

Trixie Belden: The Secret of the Mansion

By: Julie Campbell
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Trixie's summer is boring until she meets the new girl who moves into the area. Together Honey and Trixie meet a runaway boy and help him solve the mystery of his eccentric uncle. The first in a series of mysteries written more than 50 years ago has been reissued and reflects a less cynical era.

Young Cam Jansen and the Lost Tooth

By: David Adler
Illustrated by: Susanna Natti
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Is there really such a thing as a "photographic memory"? That's how Cam Jansen got her nickname — Cam is short for Camera. And she uses her amazing ability all the time to solve mysteries — this time, to find a lost tooth.

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"You may have tangible wealth untold. Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be — I had a mother who read to me." — Strickland Gillilan