Kids love comics and graphic novels and kids love mystery books, so obviously the best book for kids is a mystery graphic novel!
Reading mysteries is a great way to improve reading comprehension skills for reluctant readers (as well as voracious readers), because readers look for clues, learn about foreshadowing and give their problem solving skills a workout. It just so happens that reading graphic novels requires those same skills. Win-win!
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MYSTERY CLUB (Mr. Wolf's Class series #2) by Aron Nels Steinke
The entire Mr. Wolf's Class series is absolutely delightful. The second book in the series follows the hijinks of three students who decide to start a mystery club. There are missing playground balls to be found, a haunted bathroom to investigate and a teacher's fate to be discovered. Great fun. Ages 7 and up.
SHERLOCK BONES AND THE NATURAL HISTORY MYSTERY (series) by Renée Treml
In this easy to read and lighthearted mystery, the gumshoe Bones and his sidekick Watts learn that someone has stolen the Natural History Museum's Royal Blue Diamond. In order to avoid a museum shutdown, and the relegation of the Bones and his fellow museum inhabitants to storage, the sleuths must solve the mystery of why all the blue items are disappearing. Ages 7 and up. (Note: there are two different Sherlock Bones series. I have only read the one by Treml)
MORE: Chapter Book Mysteries, ages 6-9
SHIRLEY AND JAMILA SAVE THEIR SUMMER (series) by Gillian Goerz
New friends, Shirley and Jamila, come up with a plan for their summer which does not involve going to summer camp. Shirley has an interest in detective work and Jamila finds that she isn't half-bad at it, either. The two set about solving cases. This wonderful graphic novel is not just about detective work, it's a story of what it means to be a good friend. Ages 8 and up.
REZ DETECTIVES by Steven Paul Judd, Tvli Jacob, and M.K. Perker
In this colorful graphic novel set on a Choctaw reservation, Tasembo and his friend, Nuseka, declare themselves the "Rez Detectives" and set about trying to solve the mystery of the missing ice cream. Clever and humorous illustrations and dialogue in addition to well-rounded characters make this a winning choice. Ages 8 and up.
THE FIRST CASE (Pup Detectives series) by Felix Gumpaw, illustrated by Glass House Graphics
This is a good first detective comic series for young readers. It's fast-paced, funny and has adorable furry, elementary school aged sleuths. In the series first volume, “the greatest puppy detective in the whole school,” Rider Woofson, sets out to foil a lunchtime bandit. Ages 6 and up.
SECRET CODERS (series) by Gene Luen Yang, illustrated by Mike Holmes
How many graphic novels have your kids read that were written by a MacArthur Fellow (aka "the genius grant")? Hopper is the new kid at school and she starts things off on the wrong foot. She gets her hackles up when she gets into a tussle on her first day at the strange and creepy Stately Academy but soon Hopper and another student, Eni, team up to solve the mystery of the school. There are binary numbers to figure out, coding puzzles to solve, and computer programs to unravel. If your kids can spend hours on coding websites, convince them to enjoy some off-screen time while working on the same type of problems—but with a book. Ages 8 and up.
TRESPASSERS by Breena Bard
Gabby loves to spend summer vacation reading mystery novels. But this year, along with her new neighbor, Paige, she decides to play detective. The pair decide to find out the truth behind an abandoned mansion and the mysterious disappearance of its former inhabitants. Ages 7 and up.
HAMSTER AND CHEESE (Guinea PIG, Pet Shop Private Eye series) by Colleen AF Venable, illustrated by Stephanie Yue
Here's a cute and funny comic book series about the "world's fluffiest detective." In the first book, Sasspants is determined to solve the mystery of the missing sandwich, going so far as to set a trap by disguising a turtle as a sandwich in order to smoke out the thief. The cast of characters in the pet shop are highly entertaining. Ages 7 and up.
INVESTIGATORS (series) by John Patrick Green
Who can resist a book with such a silly pun in the title? When you see a pun-filled title, you know the inside of the book is filled with laughs. And yes, there are a lot of jokes, puns, and even pop-culture references. Two gators, Mango and Brash, are agents of S.U.I.T. (Special Undercover Investigation Team). Armed with V.E.S.T.s (Very Exciting Spy Technology), they set out to solve crimes. Ages 7 and up.
THE MYSTERY OF THE MOON TOWER (Pathfinders series) by Prescott Seraydarian and Francesco Sedita, illustrated by Steve Hamaker
In the first volume of this winning series, five campers on are the hunt for a legendary treasure. Their search involves learning about the disappearance of a mysterious inventor, Henry Merriweather. Readers who enjoy a bit of magic, fantasy and time travel in their whodunnits, will love this series. Ages 8 and up.
Detective Novel Adaptations
ENOLA HOLMES (series) by Serena Blasco, based on the books by Nancy Springer
I confess, I loved the Netflix movie adaptation of Enola Holmes, the younger sister of Sherlock Holmes. If your child did, too, they will no doubt want to read Nancy Springer's original series, but die hard fans will also want to pick up this graphic novel version. The stories are much thinner but the watercolor-like illustrations are appealing. Ages 8 and up.
MORE: Books like Enola Holmes
SPY SCHOOL (series) by Stuart Gibbs, illustrated by Anjan Sarkar
Gibbs' wildly popular Spy School series gets the comic book treatment. I've enjoyed Sarkar's illustrations in his picture books. His energetic renditions of the narrative make this an adaptation worth picking up, even for readers who enjoyed the original series. Ages 8 and up.
THE HARDY BOYS ADVENTURE (series) by Scott Lobdell, illustrated by Daniel Rendon
Find it: Your Library | Amazon
Although I read every Nancy Drew novel multiple times growing up, I had never read a Hardy Boys novel. Comic book readers, manga fans and reluctant readers will enjoy the Hardy Boys mysteries translated into comic form. Ages 8 and up.
NANCY DREW GIRL DETECTIVE (series) by Stefan Petrucha, illustrated by Sho Murase
Find it: Your Library | Amazon
As with the Hardy Boys comics, the Nancy Drew series is more for the manga art fan and comic book art fan than for the mystery reader aficionado. That said, voracious readers who can't get enough detective stories and reluctant readers who prefer less text and more art will enjoy these books. Ages 8 and up.