mystery

A Book List of Mysteries for All Ages

Mysteries are the perfect type of book to read on a cold and blustery fall or winter night. If your child loves the thrill of following clues along with the danger and suspense that literary detectives always encounter. I’ve got a list for you.

So get a fire going in the fireplace, grab a cozy blanket and a mug of hot chocolate, and dive into one of the following books.

Mysterious, Classic, Scary and Sweet - a Fall booklist perfect for cold nights and cozy blankets

Fall is the perfect time for reading. The shorter days and colder nights drive us inside and create the ideal opportunity to snuggle up with a cozy blanket and a good book.

Yep, Autumn and reading go together like peanut butter and jelly, a classic combination.

There are certain genres of books that feel especially appropriate this time of year. Cold and gray outsides, make the insides extra cozy and the thought of diving into a thick book or classic work more inviting. Shorter days and longer evenings can be motivating to start a longer series of books. A spooky story or compelling mystery can be just the thing to set the mood for a late night read in bed while the wind howls outside the window.

Today’s list contains ideas and recommendations from all of these categories, making it a fairly diverse list. If you have a sensitive reader, some of these books might not be a good match. But, if your young reader enjoys the thrill of a scary story every once in awhile, I am excited to share some new discoveries.

Wherever your child falls on the spooky spectrum, I think today’s list has a little bit for everyone. Hopefully you will find the perfect book for your kids to dive into this Fall, to read on their own or to share together.

The Newbery’s of 2013

Several years ago I set a goal to read all of the Newbery Medal and Honor books. I looked up and typed out the titles of all the winners over the years all the way back to 1922 when the award began.

If you don’t know what the Newbery award is, every year the ALA (American Library Association) will bestow the seal of the Newbery Medal on the children’s book they deem the most distinguished of the previous year. Named for an 18th century English bookseller, the Newbery Medal was the first children’s book award in the world. (If you are interested, you can read John Newbery’s story in the picture book Balderdash! by Michelle Markel.) While there is only one medal winner each year, the ALA always acknowledges additional books with the Newbery Honor award.

I don’t read the books in any particular order. Once I complete one, I head to my spreadsheet and change the color of the title from black to orange. While the orange is growing, there is a lot of black because there are a lot of books. Some I have loved, some I haven’t cared for, all I hope to share, eventually.

Book #4: Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk

My kids are back in school and I am excited to get back to sharing books with you. To transition into business as usual, I thought I’d start things off by highlighting my favorite reads from this summer. 

Book #4:  Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place

Smart, mysterious, witty and oh-so-fun, beware; if you pick up the first book of The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place series, you won’t be able to stop until you’ve read them all. And, if you pick up The Mysterious Howling (and the subsequent 4 books of the series) fast enough you may finish just in time to join my anxious anticipation of the 6th and final book of the series, The Long-Lost Home.

With a Lemony Snicket meets Jane Austen kind of vibe that works in the best kind of way, this series is pretty great. There is no one quite like Miss Penelope Lumley and her incorrigible children of Ashton Place. She is ever so proper and quick to indulge in a grammatical lesson or two when the necessity arises. And as you can imagine, it does quite often. My girls loved reading these books and I did to. 

Nine-year-old girl seeks Classic Heroines

Alea is a smart, responsible and creative nine-year-old who is currently in 3rd grade. She is a reader. She loves getting lost in a story. She especially likes funny stories and books that help her learn what life was like “back then.” She does not appreciate it when characters use words like “OMG” and “What the heck?” When she’s not reading, Alea loves ballet, playing outside and snuggling with her mom. When asked if there was anything else she would like to say about books and reading, she gave the encouragement to “Read on!” She is my kind of girl. 

I am excited to give Alea a few personalized picks. To help me help her, I asked Alea to share three of her favorite books and one she was not so crazy about. Here are her favorites:

Quick Picks: What I've Been Reading

You know that feeling when you finish a good book and you just want to tell someone about it?  I've got that feeling! They are books that don't quite fit any of the upcoming book lists that will be appearing on the blog. But, I can't wait to share them... so I won't. 

Below are four books I read over the past month and had to share now.

Superb Series for Early Chapter Book Readers (geared towards girls, but gratifying for all)

The Rainbow Fairies and The Rescue Princesses were some of the first series my girls grabbed and read with gusto. I can’t say I was sad when she finally moved on from the Rainbow Fairy books (how many slight variations can you make from the same exact plot!), but I am thankful for the part they played in her love of reading. 

The more books in a series the better when your child has just begun to work up their reading mojo. It makes the question of what to read next a lot easier to answer. So, if you are on the lookout for a series of books for your new and improving reader, fear not, there are numerous options outside the obvious and forevers like Boxcar ChildrenMagic Tree House, and Junie B. Jones. And while these series are great, having stood the test of time, if they don’t capture your kid, or they’ve already been read, here are six more options to pursue. 

Kids, E-Readers and Kindle Deals

I’m a mixed bag when it comes to e-readers. I am the owner of a Kindle and while I like it and use it, it is not my method of choice when it comes to books and reading. 

I am also a mixed bag when it comes to e-readers and kids. My son will use his Kindle Fire periodically for reading. I'm not crazy about reading from a lit-up screen (my Kindle is of the paper white variety), but if he's actually reading, I can support it. 

For those of you who do use a Kindle, reader, or tablet of some kind, another plus (albeit a dangerous plus for your wallet) are the great deals you can find on e-books, which brings me to today's list! There are some great children's e-book deals available this month on Amazon. (If you don't have an actual Kindle, you can still read Kindle books. Just download the free Kindle app on your phone or tablet to do so.) 

Here are some of my favorites:

Quick Picks AKA What My Kids Are Reading

As I have been blessed with a large passel of kids with a variety of ages, interests, and reading levels, I thought I’d do a “quick pick” list inspired by them. Below are the books my kids are currently reading. If you are looking for ideas for your young reader, maybe one these books will interest them.

3 Fun Series for Puzzle-Loving Kids

As books go, there are your run-of-the mill mysteries in which a crime or problem of some nature needs solving and the reader follows along as the hero or heroine goes about solving it. And then, there are those books that engage the reader in a more personal way, offering up the puzzles for them to solve alongside the characters within the story in which they are engaged. 

The Mysterious Benedict Society does this (which is one of the reasons my daughter loves it), so I went on a search to find more.

After a bit of sleuthing, I found some! The following book series will engage your child's detective skills and are just plain fun to try to figure out while you read along. The writing is not amazing in a few of these series (that is the literary snob coming out in me), but the puzzles are abundant and the books are, simply put, fun to read. (That is, if you like that sort of thing My dear Watson.)

If you have a puzzle-loving kid, you might want to give the following series a try:

The Mysterious Benedict Society

The Mysterious Benedict Society is one of my favorite books ever. It is the story of four kids who are asked to accomplish the simple task of saving the world.

I find myself drawn to characters and stories in which ordinary people are called on in extraordinary circumstances to do the impossible. When this story line is done well, we see the humanness of the characters as they doubt themselves and often wish for an easier path. And yet, they always continue down the impossible path they are called to because it is the right thing to do. And, thankfully, they almost always end up saving the world in the process.

10 Books to Celebrate and Learn from Black History

February is Black History month, and in my mind there is no better way to learn about and from history than through the power of story. From slavery to the civil rights movement, African Americans in our country have walked a road marked with hate and injustice. That said, I am reminded of a quote by Fred Rogers:  When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.

It's true. In the midst of tough and scary things, there are always helpers; and in the darkest times of African American history in our country, there were bold and brave, multi-colored helpers. 

Obviously, racial issues are still a struggle today. Reading stories of others who stood up to hate or were the target of it builds compassion in our kids. It opens the door to conversations that need to happen in our homes and in the larger world abroad. I hope this list of books is one that will help all of us seek to understand, help us to remember the past, and inspire us to continue to work towards healing and compassion in the future.  

Mya Recommends: Agatha Christie

Mya is 14 years old and an avid reader. We love talking about books together. I thought a teenage perspective might be beneficial if you are searching to find books for a teenager of your own. I asked Mya if she would be interested in writing a guest post periodically to let us know what she’s been reading and offer a few of her own recommendations. She said yes! And so, I am excited to share with you her first contribution:

12-year-old Boy Seeking Books with Adventure and Humor

Simon is a fun-loving 12-year old boy who loves Mario, joking around with his friends and bacon. He also loves graphic novels and comics which he would like to read more of, but of which his mom would like him to read less.

When he is not reading comics, books filled with mystery and adventure are his favorite. He doesn’t like fancy words in the books he reads and would prefer word choices that are plain and simple, but funny... kind of like Garfield (his example).

Simon doesn’t like reading unless it is a really good book that he is interested in. He is a slow reader and if he doesn’t like the book, he is a really slow reader. Oftentimes, he will read the first few pages of a book he finds around the house to see if he likes it, if he does, he will try to remember to read it later when he is looking for a new book to read. 

Simon asked me for a few personalized picks. To help me help him, I asked him to share three of his favorite books and one he was not so crazy about. Here are his favorites: