The Boxcar Children Series Book Poster Image

At the center of these short mysteries are the orphaned Alden children, who in the first book make a home in an abandoned boxcar in the woods. Their resourcefulness and ingenuity have delighted readers since 1942.

The Bad Beginning: A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 1 Book Poster Image

This gothic mystery (the first of 13 volumes) follows the perilous fate of the three Baudelaire orphans, sent to live with the evil Count Olaf. Grim, sinister, suspenseful, and terrifically entertaining.

Crispin: The Cross of Lead Book Poster Image

Set in 14th-century England, this page-turner about a boy who's falsely accused of a crime offers mystery, suspense, plot twists, and a fascinatingly gritty picture of peasant life in this time period.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler Book Poster Image

It's a perfect premise: A brother and sister run away from home and hide in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art, where they live among priceless treasures. Amusing sibling dynamics and a superb mystery make for an enduring, thrilling adventure.

The Mysterious Benedict Society Book Poster Image

Smart and suspenseful, this clever mystery stars four gifted kids who will appeal to any readers who've ever felt as if they don't quite fit in. There are plenty of twists and turns, and underlying it all is a wicked but understated sense of humor.


Books with gold star on top

Common Sense Tips

  • If your kid becomes fixated on a specific genre, such as detective stories or sports biographies, go with it!
  • Harry Potter, Hunger Games -- these blockbusters based on books provide a great incentive to tackle the written page first.
  • Lots of kids' books are meaty enough for grown-ups. And when you read the same book as your kid, you'll have lots of conversation fodder.