Sunday, May 25, 2014

Audiobooks for Young Detectives

There are two sure signs of a good audiobook.
  1.         You find yourself sitting in the driveway listening to the cd even though you’re already home.
  2.   You pick up Dad from work and he says in an injured tone, “You listened to Nancy Drew without me!”
My first foray into the world of chapter books as a young child was when my mom let me read her set of Bobbsey Twins books. I loved these gentle mysteries starring two pairs of twins. When I had read all of her copies, I got special permission to go over into the big kid section of the school library and check out more. I can still remember the thrill of it all, going over by myself into these mysterious shelves of big books. 

Though I loved Bert and Nan and Freddie and Flossie, I did not ever cross over into the world of Nancy Drew. Since my oldest daughter loves listening to mysteries and had already worked her way through Nate the Great and Encyclopedia Brown, and asked if there are any girl detectives out there. I decided to check out Nancy Drew: The Secret of the Old Clock by Carolyn Keene, read by Laura Linney. We were all hooked. Laura Linney really captures the feel of the 1950s era and Nancy’s breezy confidence. In fact after listening to The Secret of the Old Clock as well as The Hidden Staircase and The Bungalow Mystery, I’m not sure I could read Nancy Drew now without hearing Laura Linney’s voice in my head. I love the way that Nancy never charges off heedlessly into a mystery. She always takes the time to change out of her party dress, put on sensible walking shoes and grab a cardigan if she's going out sleuthing. Smart lady and a great role model!

For the most part the mysteries are not too scary, mostly about inheritances and band land deals. Though the Bungalow Mystery did have a scene where Nancy and another man were chained in a basement, which was a little tense, and made us decide to hold off on the rest of the series until the girls are older.

Some other favorite mysteries:

Nate the Great by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat: The Nate the Great series are easy-readers, so it’s a great starter series for younger kids. The characters are quirky and the mysteries usually involve friends and pets. Ella listened to these each about three times

Encyclopedia Brown by Donald J. Sobol: Encyclopedia Brown is a classic. The mysteries are short and usually center around Encyclopedia picking up some piece of trivia or fact everyone missed. Definitely enough interesting information to keep you intrigued.

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner: The  original Boxcar Children book was one of my favorites as a kid, but I had no idea there were so many mysteries afterward. The kids are independent and clever and the mysteries aren’t scary. I will warn you that these audiobooks do have a theme song. Yes, a theme song that your entire family will be humming the rest of the day..”Boxcar children are on the case!”

A-Z Mysteries by Ron Roy: This newer series has kids solving mysteries for each letter of the alphabet. Most sets of discs we checked out included 3-4 mysteries. I found myself often listening along and trying to figure out the solution.


  1. If you like Nancy Drew, you should definitely check out the Trixie Belden series. One caveat, though: the Trixie books should be read in order.

  2. We just started Trixie! We're really enjoying it!