An Air of Mystery: Middle Reader Mystery Books & Activity Round-up

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Lately, I have been in the mood for a good mystery and I also remember when my kids were growing up how much joy they got out of books like the Nancy Drew series and the Hardy Boys Mystery series. It seems to me that kidlit mystery books these days just keep getting better and better so I want to share past JIAB “air of mystery” bookjumps that will not only keep your little sleuths reading, but offer up activities to compliment those books as well.

mystery booklist


Holes by Louis Sachar (And some Holes-inspired Activities)

Holes is my favorite Louis Sachar book. The history of Kate Barlow and Stanley’s great-great grandfather woven into the story brings a new dimension to a children’s chapter book. He gives children the ability to make connections between history and Stanley Yelnat’s story. He pulls you into the harsh conditions of Camp Green Lake and keeps you captivated with the mystery surrounding it. None of the camps I ever went to had buried treasure. I read this with my mom when I was ill. It’s not just a story for kids, but for kids and parents to enjoy together.

Cootie Catcher Nickname Generator

Creepy Castles, Dark Dungeons and Powerful Palaces! Haunted Histories by Marilyn Scott-Waters and J.H. Everett


A great book that spawned a fun blog post full of mysterious and medivial activities!

How to Make a Popsicle Stick Catapult 


Gone Away Lake by Elizabeth Enright, is a delightful, beautifully written story, and one of those books that stirs my desire to explore. The story begin with a brother and sister who arrive via train from the city  to visit their country cousin. The children discover an old, mostly abandoned summer colony of houses near a swamp that used to be a lake. There, they meet another brother and sister team with the most peculiar names. The children come across a group of old houses, mysteriously vacant and abandoned on the shore of a swampy lake. Somebody has been there — there’s a warning and an inscription carved into a rock. Can the children keep their find a secret? Who left the houses and where did they go? What’s lurking in the lake?

gone away

The Girl from Felony Bay by J.E. Thompson

The Girl from Felony Bay

Abbie Force has a mission: solve the mystery of her father’s accident and alleged theft. Since he has been in a coma for nine months and cannot defend himself, it is Abbie’s job to put the pieces together. Her life has been uprooted—her father’s unavailable; her home has been sold to a new family; she has to leave her beloved school; and now she has to live with her mean aunt and uncle that don’t give one lick about her. Her summer is starting off horribly. That is until she meets the new family that has moved into her old house with the same last name and a daughter near her age—Bee. These two adventurous girls become fast friends and on their many adventures through the plantation, discover a plot afoot right under their very noses.

The Danger Box

“The Danger Box” by Blue Balliett is a wonderfully fun and quirky mystery by the author of “Chasing Vermeer” and ” The Wright 3″. The Danger Box is her fourth novel where she leaves the art scene of her previous three books behind and plants us firmly in the rural town of Three Oaks Michigan. There we find Zoomy, a sweet, legally blind 12 year old boy, living with his grandparents. Zoomy is a boy who notices everything. When his head gets too full of things it makes him nervous and he starts tapping and twitching to relieve his brain.  His grandmother after noticing this tendancy, bought him some notebooks and encouraged him to write his thoughts down. Now every time he observes something it gets placed on a list, written with a purple pen inside his notebooks.


Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms BookJump Adventure

Ten year old Stuart stumbles on a note daring him to find his great-uncle’s hidden workshop full of wonderful mechanisms, trickery, and magic.

“I have to go away, and I may not be able to get back. If I don’t return, then my workshop and all it contains is yours if you can find it- then you’re the right sort of boy to have it.


Your Uncle Tony

P.S. Start in the telephone booth on Main Street.


Would you like to create a afternoon of sleuthing, mysteries and mysterious adventures? Grab a copy of our FREE Secret Codes, Mysteries and Adventure downloadable PDF Activity Guide! This guide is 19 pages of fun including activities like Creating and Deciphering Invisible Messages, baking “I Spy” Cookies and learn more about the US President who was a master decoder! Click the image below to get your free copy!