Improve Reading Skills with Mystery Books

What makes a whodunit so fun to read? The suspense, of course! Here&s why mystery books are great tools for skill-building, too:
By Maria Minsker
Jan 29, 2015




Jan 29, 2015

They’re big on details
Was there a footprint in the attic? A sock left on the floor? Mysteries are full of little details that could prove to be important clues. Learning to pay close attention to such specifics is a key skill that readers will have to master to deepen their understanding, and it will make reading more rewarding for them, says Deborah Vriend Van Duinen, Ph.D., assistant professor of education at Hope College in Michigan.

They make kids ask “why”
Mysteries are all about cause and effect. Recognizing a suspect’s motives is a big part of appreciating a mystery, and trying to figure out why a culprit did it keeps those pages turning. Even the most hesitant readers will want to get to the end to see how the story unfolds, says Dr. Vriend Van Duinen. Understanding cause and effect early will make tackling the concept in longer stories and novels easier later on.

They encourage re-reading
Nothing improves re-reading skills like practice, practice, and more practice. Revisiting a familiar text can help young readers build confidence, and it’s a lot of fun to go back and see what clues they missed. Plus, sometimes a story is even better when kids know how it ends — it’s almost like being let in on a secret!

Page-turner picks

Nate The Great
by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
The boy detective who “likes to work alone” finds lost balloons, books, slippers — even a goldfish. A great introduction to chapter books for newly independent readers. Random House, $6. Ages 5 to 8.

Alphabet Mystery
by Audrey Wood
A colorful book that makes learning lowercase letters a breeze, this story tells of the disappearance of the letter x, who leaves the alphabet after realizing that he’s hardly ever used. Scholastic, $12. Ages 3 to 5.

The Westing Game
by Ellen Raskin
Sixteen people are invited to hear the reading of millionaire Samuel Westing’s will. Who will inherit his fortune? And more importantly, who murdered him? Follow the will’s clues to find out! Penguin, $8. Ages 8 and up.

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Photo Credit: Aaron Dyer

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