Detective Books for Early Readers


Growing up, I loved to read mysteries: Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and Encyclopedia Brown. Mysteries have built-in suspense and drama. As a parent, I appreciate how often mysteries for early readers can do this without incorporating violence. Mysteries also encourage reader participation as readers race to solve the mysteries before the characters in the books do.  Who doesn’t enjoy finishing a mystery and confirming that his or her answer was correct? Looking at the shelves of local bookstores and libraries, we’ve found more options for our daughters than the mysteries I read as a kid, many even better suited for early readers. Enjoy!



King & Kayla books by Dori Hillestad Butler 

The King & Kayla books are written from the perspective of Kayla’s dog, King. King helps Kayla solve mysteries, such as finding missing dog treats or decoding a set of secret messages. Kayla models a step-by-step approach to solving problems that readers can use to analyze issues in their own lives. The books have colorful illustrations on each page. The chapters are relatively short and the text is written in a straightforward style. Our daughters enjoy solving the mysteries, as well as the way Kayla often misinterprets what King is asking her for.



Cam Jansen and Young Cam Jansen books by David A. Adler

Jennifer, better known as Cam, solves mysteries. She obtained the nickname Camera due to her photographic memory, which was then shortened to Cam. Eric, her best friend, sometimes helps to solve the mysteries, but more often provides comic relief. Clues are scattered throughout the books in such a way that observant readers can often piece together the solutions for themselves. Younger readers might want to choose the Young Cam Jansen books, which are shorter than the Cam Jansen books.

We have also placed a hold at our library for the first of the A-Z mysteries by Ron Roy (thanks for the recommendation, Kristin!) and are eager to start on this series. Please feel free to send any other recommendations our way!

4 thoughts on “Detective Books for Early Readers

  1. Cam Jansen books are what really got my daughter hooked on chapter books. I feel like there were some other good mysteries she’s read, but I can’t think of them right now. If I do I’ll pop back in and share! btw, I tweeted your post…I have no idea whether anyone pays attention to my tweets because I’m new to it, but maybe it’ll get you some readers. I really enjoy your posts and I know others would benefit from reading what you have to say!


  2. I remembered! The Boxcar Children! I read them as a kid but hadn’t remembered they were mysteries. They’re a little more advanced than the books you’ve mentioned, but my daughter has read a few of them now. They take her quite a bit longer to read, which is probably a good thing. She’s been flying through books!

    And you’re welcome 🙂 I’ve been concentrating on some editing projects so I haven’t blogged a whole lot lately.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, the Boxcar Children! A friend loved them growing up. We’ll have to put the series on our list of books to read. Bonus points from me for being a little more advanced than what we are currently reading because I like to have some books ready as their skills progress.


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