What Diverse Kids and YA Mysteries Should I Read for My Summer Book Gap Challenge?

Mind the gap

I am still working on my #MustReadin2018 reading challenge as well as the reading challenge I created with my Children’s Literature students, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for just one more. My Children’s Literature students alerted me to a glaring book gap in my own reading life: mysteries.

They kept asking for recommendations, and I kept hemming and hawing and muttering about Cam Jansen and Encyclopedia Brown and handing them Hoot or The Sasquatch Escape or The Great Greene Heist. Normally I can instantly rattle off 10 or 12 titles for a given recommendation request, and usually I can go right to my shelf and gather at least half of those books to put right into a student’s hands.

At first I thought this gap was because I don’t read mysteries. But when I look at a list of popular mystery novels for kids, I see that I’ve read plenty–certainly enough to recommend. I just didn’t like them very much. Too much plot and not enough focus on character change, development of setting, and crafting pretty sentences is my guess as to why they aren’t my favorite kind of reading.

I also see that the vast majority of titles on these lists are by white authors about mostly white characters. In fact, in my first search for children’s and YA mystery novels, nearly every list I found was 90-100% white authors/white characters, and that is a major turn-off for me as a reader. No wonder I’ve been avoiding mystery!

So I dug a little deeper, and the Internet did not disappoint. I had been feeling like this was a dutiful book gap challenge–one I should pursue but I didn’t have much readerly excitement about it. But after compiling this incredible list of mysteries, I can’t wait to get started. I certainly don’t plan to read all of these books this summer, but I will try to read at least 10. I have tried to emphasize #ownvoices mysteries, though not all of these titles qualify.

What other books should I add to my list?

Mind the Gap Photo CC-BY Pommiebastards


9 responses to “What Diverse Kids and YA Mysteries Should I Read for My Summer Book Gap Challenge?”

  1. Amanda Potts Avatar

    Um, COOL!! I have nothing to add to your list, but I’m totally adding your list to my list of potential summer reads. Thanks!

  2. Scott Avatar

    Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap. Ruby’s York is also intriguing.

  3. Juliana Ellington Avatar

    You know how much I love mysteries, so if you need a reader-by-proxy (is that what I mean?), just let me know.

  4. Akilah Avatar

    Cam Jansen and Encyclopedia Brown??? Oh, Elisabeth. (I am no better. I keep reading Sammy Keyes mysteries. But still. Encyclopedia Brown???) I’ll have to see if I can think of any books that aren’t on your list…

    1. Elisabeth Ellington Avatar

      I know!! Isn’t it sad?? I haven’t even read a Sammy Keyes mystery so I don’t even have that on my mental shelf. Cam and Encyclopedia. I guess there’s Nate the Great too? Hey, at least I didn’t suggest Nancy Drew or The Hardy Boys. Though I think there are popular reboots of those?? I don’t even know…..

      1. Akilah Avatar

        Oh, that reminds me. I came across this post after I read yours. Maybe some of these may pique your interest? http://stackedbooks.org/2018/05/ya-mysteries.html

      2. Akilah Avatar

        Also, Sammy Keyes is A+. Highly recommend.

  5. […] new book gap challenge: diverse children’s and YA […]

  6. […] couldn’t have chosen a better book than Jackaby for the first read of my summer book gap challenge (children’s and YA mystery–mostly focusing on diverse books, which Jackaby is not). I […]

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