10 Must-Read Mystery Books for Kids

These books will bring out a child’s inner sleuth.

kid reading mystery book on beach

Sometimes, there’s no better way to spend an afternoon than solving a puzzle. Personally, I was particularly fond of Nancy Drew books as a child. I enjoyed sorting through shifty characters, suspicious leads, red herrings, and nefarious plots. Mysteries are incredibly stimulating works for curious young minds. 

If you’re looking for your child’s next favorite mystery book, this list has something for you. 

Claudia and the Middle School Mystery

Claudia and the Middle School Mystery

By Ann M. Martin

Claudia may not be the best math student, but she’s working with her friend Janine to pass a big test. On the day of the test, Claudia gets off to a bumpy start, but when the results come back, it turns out that she aced it! 

There’s just one problem. Her math teacher, Mr. Zorzi, is convinced that she and another girl in class, Shawna Riverson, helped one another cheat. It’s seems to be a suspicious coincidence that she and Shawna got the same grade, and happened to get the same answers wrong in the same ways. Claudia receives a failing grade for the test, which could seriously impact her average. If she fails any of her courses, her parents won’t let her stay in the Babysitters Club! 

ghosts beneath our feet, a mystery book for kids

Ghosts Beneath Our Feet

By Betty Ren Wright

Some kids might be bummed to spend their summer vacation in a new, small town, but Katie sees it as an adventure. She and her family move to a derelict mining town to be closer to a family friend, Uncle Frank. Katie hasn’t been there long before she’s given a frightful warning by an old woman in town: the mines beneath Uncle Frank’s house are haunted. 

When Katie explores the entrance to the mine, she’s visited a woman’s spirit. These hauntings continue in Uncle Frank’s house, where the spirit appears to Katie in a mirror. Her repeated presence lends credence to something else that the old woman told Katie—that on the anniversary of a fateful mining accident, something terrible will erupt from the mines. 

macbeth and all that, a mystery book for kids

Macbeth and All That

By Allan Burnett

Is this a mystery I see before me? Burnett’s work, like Shakespeare’s, blends history and fiction. But where Shakespeare’s was created for entertainment, Burnett traces the roots of the play back to their origin. 

Filled with illustrations and fascinating historical nuggets, Macbeth and All That delights and informs, keeping its readers guessing at every turn. 

lost in the labyrinth, a mystery book for kids

Lost in the Labyrinth

By Patrice Kindl

Princess Xenodice’s family is more than a little complicated. She’s the third daughter of Queen Pasiphae, younger sister of Ariadne, and a half brother, Lord Asterius. Xenodice has a tendency to keep her head down and stay out of trouble. She spends her time in the company of the Minotaur, as well as a young inventor named Icarus. 

Xenodice is fiercely protective of her half brother. Asterius is a gentle, docile being, but has a mischaracterized reputation for savagery. He’s harmless unless he’s provoked, but the reputation of the Minotaur still inspires fear. The labyrinth that he inhabits houses secrets that could tear Xenodice’s family apart.

Mystery of the Dark Tower

Mystery of the Dark Tower

By Evelyn Coleman

Young Bessie Carol Coulter leaves North Carolina and her mother behind, arriving in New York City with her brother and father. Harlem is bustling in the late 1920s, and ought to be enough to enthrall Bessie, but she finds the fact that her mother stayed home to be suspicious.

Her family’s time in New York should be one big adventure, but Bessie notices that her father is spending the evenings away from the family. Bessie thinks that her father may be unfaithful to her mother, and fears that the two are on their way to a divorce. 

ten mile treasure, a mystery book for kids

Ten Mile Treasure

By Andre Norton

A move to Arizona wasn’t always on the cards for the Kimball family, but when they arrive at their new home, they’re surprised by the state of it. The ranch isn’t particularly nice—in fact, it’s a desolate, run-down piece of land. Their father wants to turn the property into a motel, and Christie and her brother Neal are more than happy to give the ranch their own updates.

Christie and Neal begin working on their plans to update the ranch. But as they explore their new home, they stumble across a mystery that could change their lives. 

The Blue Herring Mystery

The Blue Herring Mystery

By Ellery Queen Jr.

The eighth book in the Ellery Queen Jr. Mystery series finds Djuna and his terrier, Champion, chasing down a request that a man made on his deathbed. Djuna is basking in the calm of a spring morning in April when he’s confronted with the final, puzzling words of Captain Jonas Beekman: Lift the blue herring. 

The Mystery of Drear House

The Mystery of Drear House

By Virginia Hamilton

A sequel to The House of Dies Drear finds the Small family grappling with the history to be found in their home. It had previously belonged to Dies Drear, an abolitionist that had been part of the Underground Railroad system. 

The Small family and the Darrow family are next door neighbors. Both are trying to find treasure that Drear was rumored to have buried on the grounds, while feuding with one another. 

the silent boy, a mystery book for kids

The Silent Boy

By Lois Lowry

For the most part, Katy Thatcher has fond memories of her childhood. The only daughter of the town’s doctor, Katy was a precocious, curious child who was deeply interested in her father’s day to day operations. 

Katy makes friends with other children in town, including a young boy named Jacob Stoltz. Jacob is developmentally disabled. He doesn’t speak, but he makes noises that describe and mimic his surroundings. While other people in town avoid and fear Jacob, Katy finds herself drawn to him. 

shakespeare's secret, a mystery book for kids

Shakespeare's Secret

By Elise Broach

Hero has never been particularly interested in her namesake, one of the heroines of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. It’s an uncommon name, and one that draws a lot of unwanted attention when she starts at a new school. Her sister, Beatrice, is named after a Shakespeare character as well, but it doesn’t draw any of the negative attention of their new classmates. Beatrice has no trouble at all fitting in, but Hero sticks out like a sore thumb. 

At first, Hero doesn’t particularly care for her new town, or her new home. But a conversation with her neighbor, Mrs. Roth, reveals that the house they moved into holds the key to a Shakespearian mystery.