Mystery stories have been captivating children’s imaginations for generations. Full of suspenseful twists, unexpected turns, and well-hidden secrets, these tales encourage young readers to dig deeper, hone their critical thinking skills, and immerse themselves in a world of whodunits. To help you find the perfect series for your budding detective, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best children’s mystery book series, ranging from timeless classics to contemporary favorites for various age groups.
The All-Time Classic Children’s Mystery Series
These long-standing series have truly withstood the test of time, delighting young readers through the decades. Each series has its own unique charm, captivating readers with their thrilling adventures, lovable characters, and intriguing mysteries.
The Hardy Boys
Growing up in the small town of Bayport, Frank and Joe Hardy have a knack for finding (and solving) mysteries wherever they go. Created by Leslie McFarlane under the pseudonym Franklin W. Dixon, the Hardy Boys series has been enthralling young readers since 1927. With over 100 books in the series, the Hardy Boys take on various adventures that test their detective skills, intelligence, and courage.
From their first case, “The Tower Treasure,” to their latest adventures, the Hardy Boys have remained a beloved series for over 90 years. Their stories have been adapted into television shows, graphic novels, and even video games, bringing their exciting world to life in new and innovative ways. Whether you’re a longtime fan or a newcomer to the series, the Hardy Boys never fail to deliver a thrilling mystery.
As one of the most recognizable female sleuths in literature, Nancy Drew has inspired countless young girls to solve mysteries and challenge expectations since her creation in 1930 by Carolyn Keene (a pseudonym used by various authors). With her ever-present magnifying glass in hand, the intelligent and independent Nancy uncovers the secrets hidden in her hometown of River Heights alongside her friends Bess and George.
Over the years, the Nancy Drew series has adapted to evolving social norms, creating a more modern and inclusive world for current audiences to enjoy. From her classic mysteries to her newest adventures, Nancy Drew continues to be a role model for young readers, teaching them the importance of intelligence, independence, and perseverance.
The Boxcar Children
Gertrude Chandler Warner’s Boxcar Children series, first published in 1924, follows the adventures of Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny Alden, four orphaned siblings who solve mysteries while living in their makeshift home—a boxcar in the woods. As their lives progress, the children find a loving home and continue to solve mysteries together with their adopted family.
The Boxcar Children series has touched the hearts of readers for almost a century, teaching them the importance of family, love, and resilience. With over 150 titles in the series, readers can follow the Alden siblings as they grow up, face new challenges, and continue to solve mysteries together.
The Famous Five
Written by British author Enid Blyton, The Famous Five books captivated young readers from its inception in 1942. The series revolves around the adventures of four cousins—Julian, Dick, Anne, and Georgina (better known as George)—and their loyal dog, Timmy. Together, they crack case after case, often involving treasure hunts, criminals, and espionage.
The Famous Five continues to be a beloved series around the world, instilling in readers a love for adventure and problem-solving. With their unique personalities and unwavering determination, the Famous Five have become iconic characters in children’s literature, inspiring generations of young readers to explore the world around them and never give up on their dreams.
Modern Children’s Mystery Series
These contemporary mystery series offer fresh and engaging storylines for today’s young readers. From the classic A to Z Mysteries to the tech-savvy The 39 Clues, these books provide a thrilling and exciting way for children to explore the world of mystery and detective work.
A to Z Mysteries
Written by Ron Roy and illustrated by John Steven Gurney, A to Z Mysteries presents a series of 26 books, each centered on a different letter of the alphabet. The stories follow three friends—Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose—as they solve crimes and uncover mysteries in their small town of Green Lawn.
With short chapters and easy-to-follow storylines, A to Z Mysteries is perfect for elementary school readers looking to delve into mysteries. The books also provide a great opportunity for children to learn the alphabet and expand their vocabulary as they follow the adventures of Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose.
The 39 Clues
Evolving from books to multimedia experiences, The 39 Clues series is a unique blend of storytelling, puzzles, and adventure. The story follows Amy and Dan Cahill as they compete against their devious relatives to uncover hidden clues, solve riddles, and find the ingredients to creating the most powerful substance in history.
With numerous authors contributing to the series, each book boasts its own distinct flavor. The 39 Clues is not just a series of books, but a multimedia experience that includes online supplements and bonus content. Children can explore the world of The 39 Clues through games, videos, and interactive storytelling, making it a perfect choice for tech-savvy readers.
Written by Stuart Gibbs, Spy School follows twelve-year-old Ben Ripley, who unexpectedly finds himself enrolled in a top-secret spy school. As Ben adjusts to his new life, he uncovers sinister plots and battles dangerous enemies, all the while navigating the everyday challenges of middle school.
Humorous and exciting, the Spy School series provides an engaging mystery with just the right amount of espionage. The books are perfect for children who enjoy action-packed adventures and thrilling twists and turns.
The Spy School series also provides a unique opportunity for children to learn about the world of espionage and spy work. The books are filled with interesting facts and tidbits about the world of spies and secret agents, making them both entertaining and educational.
The Mysterious Benedict Society
Created by author Trenton Lee Stewart and illustrated by Carson Ellis, The Mysterious Benedict Society series follows a group of talented and resourceful orphans—Reynie, Kate, Sticky, and Constance—who are tasked with solving mysteries and stopping evil plots under the guidance of their clever mentor, Mr. Benedict.
The books draw on themes of friendship, loyalty, and the importance of working together to achieve greatness. The Mysterious Benedict Society is not just a series of books, but a journey of self-discovery and personal growth for the characters.
Sophisticated and action-packed, The Mysterious Benedict Society books are a must-read for any young detective. The series provides a great opportunity for children to explore the world of mystery and detective work, while also learning important life lessons about friendship, trust, and perseverance.
Mystery Series for Younger Readers
Are you a young reader looking for a thrilling adventure? Do you love solving puzzles and mysteries? Then these mystery series are perfect for you! Each one stars a young detective who uses their wits and skills to solve everyday mysteries in their neighborhood or even travel through time and space to unravel historical secrets.
Nate the Great
Meet Nate, a young boy who takes on the role of detective as he solves everyday mysteries in his neighborhood. Written by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and illustrated by Marc Simont, Nate the Great is a simple and engaging series perfect for early readers.
With Nate’s playful humor and clever problem-solving skills, young readers will feel like they are part of the adventure. Join Nate and his trusty dog, Sludge, as they solve cases like “Nate the Great Goes Undercover” and “Nate the Great and the Sticky Case.”
Meet Cam, a fifth-grader with a photographic memory that she uses to solve crimes and everyday puzzles. Created by author David A. Adler, Cam Jansen is full of short, action-packed scenes that keep young readers engaged.
With relatable characters and intriguing mysteries, Cam Jansen is perfect for early readers looking to test their own deductive abilities. Join Cam and her best friend, Eric, as they solve cases like “Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the Stolen Diamonds” and “Cam Jansen and the Mystery of the U.F.O.“
The Magic Tree House
Step into the magical world of Jack and Annie, two siblings who discover a treehouse that transports them through time and space. Written by Mary Pope Osborne, The Magic Tree House series follows the thrilling adventures of Jack and Annie as they explore different historical eras and solve mysteries along the way.
The Magic Tree House series offers a genuine sense of wonder as young readers join Jack and Annie in unraveling the past’s many secrets. Join them as they travel to ancient Egypt in “Mummies in the Morning” or to the Wild West in “Ghost Town at Sundown.”
The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids
Are you a fan of spooky and mysterious tales? Then you’ll love The Adventures of the Bailey School Kids series by Debbie Dadey and Marcia Thornton Jones. Follow the adventures of four third-grade friends who uncover strange occurrences and supernatural beings in their town of Bailey City.
By examining numerous adventures filled with humor and excitement, this series effortlessly captures the imagination of young readers. Join Liza, Melody, Howie, and Eddie as they solve cases like “Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots” and “Werewolves Don’t Go to Summer Camp.“
No matter which series you choose, these mystery books are sure to empower budding detectives with age-appropriate stories as they embark on their mystery-solving journeys. So grab a book, put on your detective hat, and get ready to solve some mysteries!
What is a good mystery series following a kid detective?
Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol is a great choice for kids looking for similar-aged characters and mystery plots. This is a series too, so there’s plenty of books to sink your teeth into if you enjoy the first.
At what age should children read the A to Z Mysteries?
The A to Z Mysteries by Ron Roy is suitable for kids aged 7 to 15, so any kid in the 4th or 5th grade would love these books.
What are some good examples of children’s mystery books?
Nate the Great by Marjorie W. Sharmat, and Hardy Boys by Franklin W. Dixon are good choices.