Investigate Mysteries with Book Explorers

Welcome to Book Explorers! It’s like a book club for kids that you can do anytime, anywhere.  This month we are exploring mysteries. 

If you like solving puzzles, mystery books are for you.  Mysteries are a fun way to participate in the story you’re reading.  If you pay attention to all of the details the author presents in the story, you may even solve the mystery before the characters do!

This Month’s Books

Check out these books from any Denver Public Library location. Anyone who lives in Colorado can get a free library card. Register for a library card online to begin checking out eBooks right away.

Books in English

The case of the missing chalk drawings by Richard Byrne - The chalks are drawing flowers on the chalkboard, but someone keeps stealing their artwork. Sergeant Blue is on the case and determined to solve the mystery. Who could the thief be? (Publisher's description)

King & Kayla and the case of the secret code by Dori Hillestad Butler - When a mysterious letter written in code arrives at King's house for his human, Kayla, he follows the trail of the person who left it. (Publisher's description)

Secret coders by Gene Yuen Lang & Mike Holmes - Welcome to Stately Academy, a school which is just crawling with mysteries to be solved! The founder of the school left many clues and puzzles to challenge his enterprising students. Using their wits and their growing prowess with coding, Hopper and her friend Eni are going to solve the mystery of Stately Academy no matter what it takes! (Publisher's description)

Sanity & Tallulah by Molly Brooks - Sanity and Tallulah live in a space station at the end of the galaxy. When Sanity's illegally created three-headed kitten escapes, the girls have to turn their home upside down to find her in this graphic novel. (Publisher's description)

Hicotea : a Nightlights story by Lorena Alvarez - On a school field trip to the local wetlands, Sandy wanders away from her classmates and discovers an empty turtle shell. Peeking into the shell, she suddenly finds herself within a magical new dimension. Filled with sculptures, paintings and books, the turtle's shell is a museum of the natural world. But one painting is incomplete, and the shell's mystery inhabitant needs Sandy's help to finish it. (Publisher's description)

The Chicken Squad by Doreen Cronin - Dirt, Sweetie, Poppy, and Sugar might be chicks, but they sure aren't chicken. They're the Chicken Squad, and it's up to them to figure out what Tail, the not-so-brave squirrel, is so afraid of. When he describes it as BIG and Scary, that doesn't give much insight as to what is lurking beyond the coop. Can our feckless, fluffy heroes defeat something that could very well be -- gulp -- from out of this world? (Publisher's description)

Super puzzletastic mysteries : short stories for young sleuths from Mystery Writers of America - New York Times bestselling author Chris Grabenstein and his all-star cast of contributing authors team up for Super Puzzletastic Mysteries, a group of interactive short stories that invite the reader to solve the mystery themselves. (Publisher's description)

Who was Amelia Earhart? by Kate Boehm Jerome - Examines the life of pioneer aviator Amelia Earhart, who mysteriously disappeared during an around-the-world flight in 1937. (Publisher's description)

Books in Spanish

Sofia Martinez. Un paseo de compras problemático por Jacqueline Jules - The whole Martinez family is shopping for back-to-school supplies, and Sofia is excited by the colorful backpacks and fancy notebooks--but excitement turns to alarm when four-year-old Manuel disappears. (Publisher's description)

Magalina. T.2, Magalina y el el gran misterio / guion Sylvia Douyé ; ilustración Paola Antista ; color, Lowenael ; Mariola Cortés-Cros, por la traducción - Magalina is trying to find her missing friends. (Publisher's description)

Frida, el misterio del anillo del pavo real y yo / Angela Cervantes ; translated by Jorge Ignacio Domínguez - When Lizzie and Gael share an irresistible challenge, to find the peacock ring that once belonged to artist Frida Kahlo, Paloma decides it is the perfect way to honor her father. (Publisher's description)

Before You Read 


Mystery books sometimes have special vocabulary terms that are helpful to know before you start to read.  Take a moment to look over these words:

List of mystery vocabulary words.

Make Predictions

Before you read your first mystery book, make predictions about the story!  In other words, try to guess what might happen.  What do you think the book will be about, just by reading the title and looking at the illustrations on the cover?  When you read each chapter title, what do you think will happen in that chapter?  As you begin to read the story, it’s fun to see if your predictions, or guesses, were correct. 

After You Read

Discussion Questions

  • After you read your first mystery book, think about the detective in the story.  If you were the detective, would you have done anything differently to solve the mystery?
  • Many detectives work with partners to solve crimes.  If you were a detective in real life, who would you choose to be your partner?  Why?
  • If you had a mystery to solve, how would you get started?


Create a Secret Code

Secret codes are fun to make and share with friends.  An easy way to create one is to make a decoder wheel for yourself and for your friends.  You can download our decoder wheels below or you can check with your local Denver Public Library branch to pick up a Book Explorers Activity kit, which will also include them.

Check out Librarian April’s video to see how to use them.

Write Your Own Mystery

Have you ever tried to write your own mystery story?  All you need is some paper, a pen or a pencil, and a lot of imagination!  Planning your story will help make writing it easier.  You can download and use our Mystery Story Map below or come up with your own.

Mystery story elements to include are:

  • Characters: Who are your detectives?  Who are your suspects?  Who else is in your story?
  • Setting: Where does your story take place?
  • Mystery: What is the mystery or problem that needs to be solved?
  • Clues: What clues will your detectives find that will help solve the case?  List them in the order they will be found in the story.
  • Solution: How is your mystery solved?

Mystery Story Prompts

Sometimes it can be hard to start writing a story.  Here are some mystery story prompts to get your imagination going!

  • One night, you’re home alone and you hear loud noises coming from the attic above you.  You grab a flashlight and climb the stairs to investigate.  When you open the door, you see...
  • When you sit down at your desk after recess, you notice that someone has left a mysterious note for you.  It says…
  • All the pets in town have disappeared overnight!  No one knows what happened to them, but one night you find a clue.  

Join Book Explorers every month for more book discussions and activities for kindergarten through fifth grade!

Educators and caregivers, print these activities to share with young people in your life:

Written by April on October 1, 2021
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