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December 6, 2013
Before the holidays really take over everything, I thought I would dive in to the fun mystery genre. Kids love to try to figure out “whodunit” when reading a mystery. They love all the chances to guess which suspect committed the crime and debate why their choice is correct.
Mystery is a difficult genre to read and really makes the reader think about what is going on in the story. Readers will have to track several suspects (characters), be careful of red herrings, and piece clues together all the way to the end. Check out these mystery eBook picks, and good luck to all you sleuths out there!
Even the youngest readers can enjoy a mystery. Alphabet Mystery by Audrey Wood and Bruce Wood gives young children a chance to piece together clues and try to figure out what happened to the letter X! X has disappeared from the alphabet because he was upset that he was hardly used. The other letters go out to find him, and go on an exciting adventure.
Not only does this book teach the alphabet and introduce younger children to the mystery genre, it also demonstrates themes about friendship and working together, and teaches the lesson that everyone (or every letter) is valuable in their own way. These are all great life lessons to learn from a book.
My daughter loved the colorful pictures and the enrichment activities that go along with the story. It is such a wonderful sight to see her learning, “reading,” and having fun all at once.
Early Chapter-Book Readers:
The Jigsaw Jones Mystery series is great for early chapter-book readers. Since it is a series, readers get to know Jigsaw Jones and Mila very well after reading a few books from the series. This helps them make better predictions and have certain expectations when reading, both of which will improve comprehension of a story.
The Case of Hermie the Missing Hamster by James Preller is a fun beginner mystery. Jigsaw’s neighbor Wingnut’s hamster is missing, and he hires Jigsaw Jones to help him find his pet. Readers can clearly follow when Jigsaw Jones and Mila pick out suspects and clues while reading. If they keep track of these suspects and clues in a case file (aka reading response journal), they can practice solving the mystery.
I especially like how this book is a quick linear read. Unlike more difficult mystery stories, the clues are presented one at a time, and either proven useful or not before moving on to another clue. This is an excellent choice to get younger readers into the genre of mystery.
The Wright 3 by Blue Balliett is an excellent choice for advanced mystery readers. The main characters, Petra, Calder, and Tommy, are working with their sixth-grade class to save a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Peculiar things are reported happening at the house, and the three super sleuths take it upon themselves to check things out.
Advanced readers will do some deep thinking when reading this book. It is a good idea to keep a case file in a reading response journal for this story to keep all the clues and events in order. I was definitely kept on the edge of my seat throughout this book, and wanted to know if these three kids were going to be successful in saving the house from demolition and solving the mystery.
Thea Stilton and the Secret City by Geronimo Stilton is not exactly a nonfiction book, but there is a method to my madness. This series of mystery books is packed full of nonfiction information throughout the fictional mystery story. Paulina’s friend is missing, so the Thea Sisters travel to Peru to help solve the mystery. While they are searching for Paulina’s friend, the author includes several nonfiction pages about South America, Peru, the Incas, and other topics pertaining to the mystery.
This book taught me the lesson to not judge a book by its cover, or its text. Whenever I would see my fourth graders reading this series I thought to myself, “Oh, great, another silly series that is not helping their reading.” Boy was I wrong! Just because it is a colorful and fun-looking book doesn’t mean it is all silly. I thought the mystery story was great, and it really kept me thinking, so imagine how a fourth grader would have to think during reading! In addition to the story, it had so much nonfiction information included that I even learned new things.
Although I think the extra-fancy font choice throughout the book might be distracting to some readers, it could also be helpful. It will attract kids to the book, keep their interest, and might even help them read with more expression. So the next time I see my students reading this type of book or other “silly-looking” books, I will be sure not to jump to any concluesions.
About Laura Murray:
Laura Murray is a fourth-grade teacher in Paramus, New Jersey. This is her second year using Storia in her classroom and at home with her daughter, and she loves it! We hope you join in with comments about her ideas for using Storia with your children.
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November 21, 2012