It’s great to get a child hooked on reading mysteries, especially if the mystery is part of a series. Even unenthusiastic readers will become more interested in reading a book if it allows them to have a visit with an old friend – or several old friends. That’s what happens when a child starts following a series just as it happens to us: Hello, old friend, what’s new? What more can I learn about you? What more can I learn from you?
I look at the collection of books from my childhood – which my children also read and enjoyed – and mystery stories dominate the book shelves: Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, Ginny Gordon, Encyclopedia Brown, and Trixie Belden, among others.
Well, okay, I have a big collection of books by Lucy Maude Montgomery, too, but did you fans of Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon realize that every single book also included a mystery? Lucy certainly knew what she was doing and had a great recipe for hooking a reader! I loved my visits with Anne and Emily and knew they would be facing new problems in every book, and one of those would be to solve some kind of mystery along with some personal difficulties – their own or those of a friend.
Children Love Mysteries and Teachers and Parents do, too
Through mysteries, children learn to examine evidence, to analyze it, and make judgments: Who did this? How did they do it? Why did they do it? How will the mystery be solved? These are great questions for discussion and they are the questions raised by the heroes or heroines in the story. As well, they are subjects for discussion by the young reader and the parent or teacher.
In the traditional mystery, the reader is given clues as well as some misdirection – after all, it’s no fun solving a mystery when the answer to the puzzle is perfectly obvious. It’s great to follow the critical thinking of the hero or heroine and work through the possibilities to the final resolution.
It’s also good for children to wrestle with another child’s personal problems in a story and to try and puzzle out the solutions to those mysteries as well. It serves as rehearsal for any number of problems that can occur in the reader’s life. There is comfort in realizing that no one has a perfect life – no one has perfect parents, or families, or friends – and life is full of puzzles that we all have to solve.
Children get used to the idea that they might make a mistake when they are trying to analyze a problem; they might misunderstand, misinterpret, or be misunderstood themselves. However, these things happen to everyone – even to heroes and heroines. In any case, it’s great to know that there are solutions to mysteries and to life’s problems, and there are always people who will help us, too, if they can.
A mystery book is not only fun reading for children, it encourages a love of reading, which improves reading skills, and helps teach critical thinking and analysis. The next time you are choosing a book for your young reader, head to the mystery story section. You’re sure to find a winner.
Something’s Missing is for sale in paperback at this link to Amazon.com, or by clicking on this Amazon.ca link, and at Barnes and Noble, and independent bookstores. If your child enjoys e-book reading, watch for the Kindle version, coming soon.
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