The Best Mystery Series for Kids

In whodunits, little ones discover how to use logic to solve puzzles.

May 12, 2022



The Best Mystery Series for Kids

May 12, 2022

Mystery books are one way for young readers to learn about puzzles and how to solve them. Recognizing clues and piecing those clues together logically requires critical thinking and reading comprehension — skills that are strengthened through reading. That’s what also makes mystery series incredibly entertaining for children — they hook a reader from the first book, which makes them want to keep reading to find out what happens next.

The following mystery series introduce memorable detectives who your child will befriend and admire for their quick thinking, eccentricity, and wit.

Classic Detective Series

The popular teenage supersleuths of the 20th century that many parents grew up with still have a place on kids’ shelves. Energetic jetsetter Nancy Drew, created in 1930, is approaching her 100th year in children’s literature. You can revisit four of her original cases in Nancy Drew Mystery Stories #1-4, a boxed set of reissued editions with special covers that harken back to the era in which the original books were published. 

Encyclopedia Brown (née Leroy Brown), a child of the 60s, can still be found posing questions to friends and family and gathering information before making his final conclusions about whodunnit at the dinner table. The well-reviewed Encyclopedia Brown Boxed Set highlights four cases this amateur sleuth cracked that his chief-of-police dad couldn’t.

In the late 1970s, author David A. Adler created Cam Jansen, a spirited 5th grader who uses clues in her environment to solve local mysteries. More than thirty years later, she’s still on the best seller list. Adler’s series is great for readers transitioning to chapter books: The chronological way in which Cam solves mysteries supports memory and reading comprehension skills. Check in with Cam where it all begins with Cam Jansen #1: The Mystery of the Stolen Diamonds

Fans of 90s pop culture will be familiar with Carmen Sandiego, the mysterious globetrotting thief who, despite being dressed head-to-toe in red, is known for eluding international police forces with her timely escapes. Who in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?, a novelization of the Netflix animated series, gives readers the previously untold backstory on this trench-coated criminal.

Contemporary Detective Series

The Katie Fry series offers a simple but fun introduction to solving mysteries. In Katie Fry, Private Eye #1: The Lost Kitten, this bright young protagonist finds a cat named Sherlock and makes it her mission to trace his steps back home. 

Elisabetta Maria Dami, creator of adventurer mouse Geronimo Stilton, has written a spinoff series starring his younger sister, Thea Stilton, who also works at The Rodent’s Gazette. In the Thea Stilton Special Edition Bundle, readers join the paper’s special correspondent on five fun-filled expeditions as she travels from castles in faraway lands to the lost island of Atlantis.

Kids love the award-winning Mac B., Kid Spy chapter book series for its mix of humor, history, and plot twists that will keep them guessing until the last (illustrated) page. The series kicks off with Mac B., Kid Spy #1: The Undercover, based on what author Mac Barnett insists are his real-life experiences serving as a kid spy for the Queen of England!

Graphic Novel Mystery Series

Graphic novels encourage readers — especially striving readers — to use images as context clues for comprehending a story. This book format is conducive to mystery storytelling, where the reader is expected to recognize hints and clues in order to piece together the story’s outcome. 

Eisner Award-winning comic book artist James Kochalka brings giggles galore to the Banana Fox series, about a self-absorbed yellow fox that keeps the baddies at bay with the help of his sidekick, a girl named Flashlight. In Banana Fox #1: Banana Fox and the Secret Sour Society, the criminals Banana put away are back and seeking revenge. Looks like he’ll need to put his search for a missing turtle on hold to save the world!

The popular Hello Neighbor chapter book series, adapted from the hit horror video game of the same name, is now a graphic novel series for early elementary readers. In the first installment, Hello Neighbor: The Secret of Bosco Bay (A Graphic Novel #1), the reclusive former theme park designer Mr. Peterson is once again the subject of suspicion after a missing person’s last-known whereabouts are traced to Bosco Bay, the local theme park destined to be demolished any day now.

Shop more of the best mystery series for kids below! Plus, explore our Scholastic Parents book lists to discover the best children's books by age, interest, and more. You can find all books and activities at The Scholastic Store.

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