Calling All Detectives | Murderous Who-Done-Its | Puzzling, Isn't It? | Teen Thrillers

Mysteries provide the perfect opportunity for boys to read closely and think critically—and they'll be so engrossed they may not even realize they're doing so!

Calling All Detectives

For young and middle grade readers, mysteries provide exciting challenges. Use one of the books above in an exercise on making predictions. Have boys look at the book's cover and predict what might happen in the story. Then, read just the first page with boys and have them refine their predictions. Continue reading until you've finished the whole first chapter, giving kids a chance to refine their predictions once more. Then, finish the story and, after doing so, review your kids' predictions. Any future detectives on your hands? This is a great reading activity for parents to use with their kids at bedtime and during summer reading.

#1: Bones and the Big Yellow Mystery

by David A. Adler
Ages 5 & up | Grades K & up

Everyone needs bones—Detective Jeffrey Bones that is. With his bag of detective tools in hand, Jeffrey can solve any mystery. Good thing, because Mr. Green has lost his school bus. "A bus is a big thing to lose," Jeffrey says. But sometimes, big things are hard to find. Maybe Mr. Green's bus was stolen. Detective Bones gets out his pad and notes the clues, and the search begins....

The Case of the Deadly Desperados: Western Mysteries, Book One

by Caroline Lawrence
Ages 8-12 | Grades 3-7

When twelve-year-old P.K. (Pinky) Pinkerton's foster parents are murdered by Whittlin' Walt and his gang of ruthless desperados, Pinky goes on the run. He's forced into hiding with Ma's priceless last possession: the deed to a large amount of land and silver mines in the Nevada Mountains. But relying on disguises will only keep Pinky hidden for so long, and the desperados are quickly closing in...

Goofball Malone Ace Detective: Follow That Flea!

by Stephen Mooser
Ages 7-9 | Grades 1-4

Chester "Goofball" Malone is a second-grader with a knack for sniffing out trouble. The problem is, he's never had a mystery to solve. That is, up until now! When Dr. Fleaflicker's million-dollar dog runs away, it's up to Goofball Malone's detective work to save the day!

Griff Carver, Hallway Patrol

by Jim Krieg
Ages 9-11 | Grades 4-6

Twelve-year-old Griff Carver knows a thing or two about fighting crime. Because Griff's not just any kid-he's a kid with a badge. And if you are a criminal, he's your worst nightmare. Griff might be the new kid on the Rampart Jr. High Patrol squad, but he's no rookie. And he'll do whatever it takes to clean up the mean hallways of his middle school-even if it lands him in hot water. But when Griff links cool kid Marcus "The Smile" Volger to a counterfeit hall pass ring, can he and his friends close the case? Or will Griff let down the force-and lose his badge-for good?

Hank the Cowdog #1: The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog

by John R. Erickson
Ages 9-12 | Grades 3-7

Hank has been accused of murder! In a fit of despair, Hank resigns his position as Head of Ranch Security and decides to join the outlaw coyotes. Hanks meets Missy Coyote, sister to Scraunch, the meanest, roughest, toughest, most notorious coyote in the whole country, and if Scraunch finds Hank with his sister, well, look out for trouble!

The Hardy Boys #1: The Tower Treasure

by Franklin W. Dixon
Ages 8-14 | Grades 2-8

Afer a dying criminal confesses that his loot has been stashed "in the tower" the Hardy Boys make an astonishing discover.

Monster Squad #1: The Slime That Would Not Die

by Laura Dower
Ages 5 up | Grades 2 up

Jesse Ranger was just an average kid with an obsession for Oswald Leery's B-Monster movies until he discovered a dangerous secret: Leery's special filming process brought his movie monsters to life and now they've escaped the screen! Something must be done, but how do you trap a B-Monster, especially one made of slime?

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer

by John Grisham
Ages 8-12 | Grades 3-7

Brimming with the intrigue and suspense that made John Grisham a #1 international bestseller and the undisputed master of the legal thriller, Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer will keep readers guessing and pages turning.

Visit to find out more about the book, play games, and read excerpts! Click here for a Classroom guide and other extras for Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham.

Murderous Who-Done-Its

The most bloodcurdlingly thrilling mysteries are the ones executed properly. Identify some essential elements of a mystery for students: the motive, the crime scene, the villain, the evidence, and the solution. Then, compare and contrast these important elements as they are found in at least two of the mysteries above. After your sleuths have determined their personal preferences for making the most chilling, suspenseful mysteries, challenge them to write their own!

The Boxer and the Spy

by Robert B. Parker
Ages 14 & up | Grades 8 & up

When a shy high school student's body is found washed up on the shore of a quiet New England beach town, Terry Novak doesn't know what to think. Something just doesn't add up, so he decides to do some investigating with the help of his best friend, Abby. It doesn't take long before they learn that asking questions puts them in grave danger, and surviving is going to be a fight.

Rat Life

by Tedd Arnold
Ages 12 & up | Grades 6 & up

The dead body found in the river has nothing to do with Todd. Then he meets Rat, who offers Todd a gig at the drive-in theater. But hanging out with Rat leads to a host of perplexing questions. That corpse from the river is on Todd's mind, and no matter how he shifts the pieces around, Rat is always part of the puzzle.

Something Rotten

by Alan M. Gratz
Ages 12 & up | Grades 6 & up

The smell of Denmark, Tennessee, hits Horatio Wilkes the moment he pulls into town to visit his best friend, Hamilton Prince. And it's not just the paper plant and the polluted river that's stinking up Denmark: Hamilton's father has been poisoned and the killer is still at large. Horatio and Hamilton need to find the killer, but it seems like everyone in Denmark is a suspect.

Something Wicked

by Alan M. Gratz
Ages 12 & up | Grades 6 & up

Horatio Wilkes has come to the Scottish Highland Festival with his childhood friend Mac but before the Celtic festivities can get under way, Mac's grandfather and founder of the games, Duncan MacRae, is brutally murdered. All signs point to Duncan's son, Malcolm, as the killer, but Horatio has his doubts.

Puzzling, Isn't It?

From the puzzles included in the Winston Breen books to the curious incidents that take place in Robert B. Parker's and Neal Shusterman's books for older readers, there's a lot for boys to puzzle through here. TEACHERS: Try peer reading groups, where students can work through the storylines together.

Edenville Owls

by Robert B. Parker
Ages 9-11 | Grades 3-6

There is something evil in the air; Bobby senses it. Bobby knows he should mind his own business, but World War II has just ended and Bobby's world seems to changing all around him. His buddies on the Edenville Owls, the local basketball team, are in need of a leader. Can they help each other off the court as well as on it?

Paper Towns

by John Green
Ages 14 up | Grades 9 up

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs back into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge— he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues— and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew.

The Puzzling World of Winston Breen

by Eric Berlin
Ages 8-12 | Grades 2-7

Winston Breen says "the only thing better than discovering a puzzle is stumping someone else with it." But when his sister uncovers mysterious strips of wood with words and letters on them, he, his family, and some friends all become caught up in a mystery that they're determined to solve!

The Puzzling World of Winston Breen: The Potato Chip Puzzles

by Eric Berlin
Ages 8-12 | Grades 2-7

When puzzle addict Winston Breen and his best friends head to an all-day puzzle hunt with a $50,000 grand prize, they're pumped. But the day is not all fun and games—someone in the contest is playing dirty in order to win. Trying to stop this mystery cheater before it's too late takes an already tough challenge to a whole other level.

The Shadow Club

by Neal Shusterman
Ages 12-16 | Grades 6-11

The Shadow Club starts simply enough: the kids who are tired of being second-best get together and, for the first time, talk about how they feel. But soon the members decide to play practical jokes on the first-place winners they envy, and things begin to spin dangerously out of control.

The Shadow Club Rising

by Neal Shusterman
Ages 12-16 | Grades 6-11

The Shadow Club doesn't exist anymore, but Jared and the ex-members are having a hard time shaking their reputation. When the new golden boy at school is the victim of a series of nasty pranks, everyone's convinced Jared is to blame. Determined to prove his innocence, Jared soon becomes wrapped up in a nightmare worse than anything the Shadow Club ever caused.

So Yesterday

by Scott Westerfeld
Ages 12 up | Grades 6 up

Ever wonder who was the first kid to keep a wallet on a big chunky chain, or wear way-too-big pants on purpose? What about the mythical first guy who wore his baseball cap backwards? These are the Innovators, the people on the very cusp of cool. Seventeen-year-old Hunter Braque's job is finding them for the retail market.

But when a big-money client disappears, Hunter must use all his cool-hunting talents to find her. Along the way he's drawn into a web of brand-name intrigue-a missing cargo of the coolest shoes he's ever seen, ads for products that don't exist, and a shadowy group dedicated to the downfall of consumerism as we know it.

Teen Thrillers


by Stephan Petrucha
Ages 12 up | Grades 7 up

Carver Young dreams of becoming a detective, despite growing up in an orphanage with only crime novels to encourage him. But when he is adopted by Detective Hawking of the world famous Pinkerton Agency, Carver is given not only the chance to find his biological father, he finds himself smack in the middle of a real life investigation: tracking down a vicious serial killer who has thrown New York City into utter panic.

Teen Thrillers


by Harlan Coben
Ages 12 up | Grades 7 up

Mickey Bolitar's year can't get much worse. After witnessing his father's death and sending his mom to rehab, he's forced to live with his estranged uncle Myron and switch high schools.

A new school comes with new friends and new enemies, and lucky for Mickey, it also comes with a great new girlfriend, Ashley. Then Ashley vanishes without a trace. Mickey follows Ashley's trail into a seedy underworld that reveals that this seemingly sweet, shy girl isn't who she claimed to be. And neither was Mickey's father.