Here is the newest addition to my series of early chapter books for kids. I’ve made lists featuring boys, girls, animals, friends & families, and more. Now your kids can enjoy the all-important detective novel with this list of early chapter book mysteries for kids transitioning from early readers to longer novels!
If your child is done with easy readers but needs to spend some time with beginning chapter books before moving on to middle grade fiction, these are the books to start out with. If you have an older reader check out this book list of middle grade mystery books.
Early Chapter Books: Mysteries!
Previously, I discussed a few of my parent tips on how to choose early chapter books, and in general these books are appropriate for readers aged 5-9, depending, of course, on individual reading levels. Some are more advanced than others, so I’ve tried to point out the easiest chapter books. If your child likes to read on an e-reader (as I’m learning many kids at this age do, although we don’t have one yet), I’ve noted which books are available in an ebook format. (Note: as always, I’ve chosen books based solely on my and my son’s opinion and included affiliate links.)
The Buddy Files. My son loved this series about a dog detective, told from the canine’s perspective. Buddy has been adopted from the pound, but he continues to search for his original family and what happened to them. A well-written series, the books are funny and charming. Also available on Kindle.
Milo & Jazz Mysteries. This is a great series for the youngest readers ready for early chapter books. At first Milo is uncertain that Jazz will be a good partner, but they end up working well together. I love how each book ends with some extra brain-teasers and mysteries to solve. Also available on Kindle.
Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective. You absolutely cannot go wrong with the classic boy detective. Each book has several self-contained mysteries that are intended to be solved by the reader. Books have an “Answer” section at the end so the reader can check his or his own sleuthing against Encyclopedia Brown’s. Also available for the Kindle.
Ballpark Mysteries. A lot of kids (boys especially) reading books at the early chapter book level also love non-fiction. If your child loves non-fiction, introduce him (or her!) to Ballpark Mysteries. It was inevitable that my 8 year old sports-lover enjoy this series with loads of baseball and ballpark facts woven into each mystery. Every book is set in a different ballpark, where a pair of 9 year olds combine sleuthing with baseball fan-dom. Also available for the Kindle.
A to Z Mysteries. The A to Z mysteries is a super-popular series about a team of kids solving mysteries, one for each letter of the alphabet. The three main kid-sleuths are well drawn and the stories entertaining and suspenseful. When you’re done with letter Z, you can turn to A to Z Mysteries Super Editions for more fun.
Calendar Mysteries. The younger siblings of the kid detectives in A to Z Mysteries get their own mysteries to solve, but instead of by the alphabet, mysteries happen monthly. Missing dogs, anonymous valentines, stolen Easter Eggs: these are the high profile crimes the juvenile gang needs to solve. Great fun for younger kids. Also available for the Kindle.
The Mystic Lighthouse. An old lighthouse in Maine is the perfect setting for a few thrilling mysteries, don’t you think? This series is better for kids on the older end of this reading level because some might find it a bit scarey, although no doubt others will find twins Jen and Jake’s adventures delightfully spine-chilling. Also available for the Kindle.
Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew. Pre-teen versions of Nancy and her friends, George and Bess, solve crucial problems involving missing dolls and lost ice-cream recipes. I remember getting chills from the original series, but there are no spine-tingling worries with these books: just good, clean adventures. If your kids aren’t quite ready for the real Nancy Drew, my son has given these his seal of approval. Also available for the Kindle.
Hardy Boys: Secret Files. Brothers Frank and Joe Hardy (that’s right: sons of their more famous dad!) solve mysteries at the arcade, baseball field, school stage and other local hangouts. Does it seem like every early chapter book series has an episode about a missing dog, or is that just me? Also available for the Kindle.
Nate the Great. This classic series is a very, very, early chapter book (it’s actually in the early reader section of our library) so it’s good for younger kids. There are a ton of books in the series to satisfy your kids and keep them reading should they take a liking to good ol’ Nate. Also available for the Kindle.
Fancy Nancy: Nancy Clancy, Super Sleuth. The Fancy Nancy franchise is branching out into early chapter books. This one is stereotypically aimed at a female audience (sigh); nevertheless, many kids will enjoy it and Nancy is certainly an appealing character. Also available for the Kindle.
Sly the Sleuth. This is a wonderful series about a clever, spunky girl detective who solves neighborhood mysteries. Easy to read, this series is great for younger kids, too. Also available for Kindle.
The Five Lost Aunts of Harriet Bean. When Harriet’s dad tells her that she has five missing aunts, all with unique talents, she is determined to find them and sets off pedaling her circus wagon on an offbeat adventure. McCall is the author of a popular adult series, the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (which I’ve never read), and it turns out 2 of the aunts are part of that series.
Max & Maddy. Also from Alexander McCall are two books about siblings who learned their sleuthing skills from their parents who just happen to be international detectives.
Chet Gecko Mysteries. How can the premise of this series not make you giggle? Chet Gecko is a fourth grader who happens to be a private eye (uh, and a lizard). His partner in hard-boiled detective mystery-solving is Natalie Attired, the “smartest mockingbird around.” Mysteries center on the school environment. Also available for Kindle.
The Boxcar Children. The Boxcar Children Mysteries is a classic series, dating from 1924. There are now more than 100 books! Four orphaned siblings live with their grandfather and solve mysteries at home and on vacation. Also available on Kindle.
Olivia Sharp: Agent for Secrets. Olivia Sharp is just as adept at solving mysteries as her more famous cousin, Nate the Great. Olivia, however, is quite well-to-do and her arsenal of problem solving tools includes her personal chauffeur. Like the Nate books, these are perfect for the youngest beginning chapter book readers and could be considered easy readers. Also available on Kindle.
Jack Gets a Clue. Nancy Krulik is the author of several other early chapter book series, including Katie Kazoo, Switcheroo and my oldest son has really enjoyed all her books. Jack’s detective super-power is that he can talk to animals to help solve the mysteries that come his way. These books are at the easier end of the reading level represented here. Also available on Kindle.
Capital Mysteries. The author of the A to Z Mysteries penned this series about two friends who solve mysteries in Washington, D.C. Each story is peppered with facts about the national’s capital, its monuments and history so if you want to squeeze a little American history into your child’s fiction reading, you’ve come to the right place. Also available on Kindle.
Two series worth mentioning from my earlier posts include The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe’s Very First Case from by list of stand-alone novels with girl protagonists, Cam Jansen from my list of early chapter books about girls, and the J. J. Tully Mysteries from early chapter books about animals.
- Magic early chapter books for kids
- Adventure early chapter books
- More early chapter books for kids ages 5-8
- Multicultural early chapter books
- Early chapter books about school
- Early chapter books to match every child’s interest!
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