If, like me, you loved Carolyn Keene’s popular book (or the whole series) and loved it — now you’re on the hunt for books like Nancy Drew, you’re in the right place. Welcome!
Recommending readalikes can be a tricky process, but I enjoy the process of finding similar threads running through even books that appear different on the surface. Today’s pick is Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew, a classic young YA mystery series about a girl who can’t stay away from a good mystery! While I read the Nancy Drew books as a young teen, I think the book sometimes veers into YA territory.
For this list, I’ve gathered 9 engaging mysteries for kids ages 8 and up with similar elements as Nancy Drew. You’ll find that the kids in these stories love a good mystery and aren’t afraid to do some sleuthing. If you enjoy cozy middle grade mysteries, you’ll enjoy these books like Nancy Drew.
The Secret Key (Agatha Oddly)
Published: June 28, 2018
Meet thirteen-year-old Agatha Oddly – a bold, determined heroine, and the star of a stylish new detective series.
Agatha Oddlow has been a detective for as long as she can remember – she’s just been waiting for her first big case. And nothing gets bigger than saving the City of London from some strange goings-on.
With a scholarship to the prestigious St Regis School, a cottage in the middle of Hyde Park, a room full of beloved sleuthing novels, and a secret key that gives her access to a whole hidden side of London, Agatha is perfectly poised to solve the mystery of what’s going on. But just who can she trust when no one is quite who they seem…
Drew LeClair Gets a Clue
Published: March 1, 2022
Drew Leclair knows what it takes to be a great detective. She’s pored over the cases solved by her hero, criminal profiler Lita Miyamoto. She tracked down the graffiti artist at school, and even solved the mystery of her neighbor’s missing rabbit. But when her mother runs off to Hawaii with the school guidance counselor, Drew is shocked. How did she miss all of the clues?
Drew is determined to keep her family life a secret, even from her best friend. But when a cyberbully starts posting embarrassing rumors about other students at school, it’s only a matter of time before Drew’s secret is out.
Armed with her notebooks full of observations about her classmates, Drew knows what she has to do: profile all of the bullies in her grade to find the culprit. But being a detective is more complicated when the suspects can be your friends. Will Drew crack the case if it means losing the people she cares about most?
Finally, Something Mysterious
Published: April 14, 2020
Paul Marconi has always thought that Bellwood was a strange town, but also a boring one. Not much for an eleven-year-old to do. Fires are burning nearby, Paul’s parents are obsessed with winning a bratwurst contest, and his best friend, one of the founding members of their only-child detective club, the One and Onlys, is about to acquire a younger sister, sort of undoing their whole reason for existing. But then! Hundreds of rubber duckies have appeared on the lawn of poor Mr. Babbage without any explanation. Finally! There is something that Paul and his friends can actually investigate.
In the face of all these bizarre occurrences, Paul is convinced that uncovering who deposited the duckies will finally bring some sense to what has become an upside-down world. Soon the three friends have a long list of suspects, all with their own motives, but no clear culprit. When everything comes to a head at the town’s annual Bellwood Bratwurst Bonanza, Paul discovers that some things don’t have an easy explanation and not every mystery can be solved.
The Great Shelby Holmes
Published: September 6, 2016
Shelby Holmes is not your average sixth-grader. She’s nine years old, barely four feet tall, and the best detective her Harlem neighborhood has ever seen–always using logic and a bit of pluck (which yes, some might call “bossiness”) to solve the toughest crimes.
When eleven-year-old John Watson moves downstairs, Shelby finds something that’s eluded her up till now: a friend. The easy-going John isn’t sure of what to make of Shelby, but he soon finds himself her most-trusted (read: only) partner in a dog-napping case that’ll take both their talents to crack.
The Amelia Six
Published: June 30, 2020
Eleven-year-old Amelia Ashford—Millie to her friends (if she had any, that is)—doesn’t realize just how much adventure awaits her when she’s given the opportunity of a lifetime: to spend the night in Amelia Earhart’s childhood home with five other girls. Make that five strangers. But Millie’s mom is a pilot like the famous Amelia, and Millie would love to have something to write to her about…if only she had her address.
Once at Amelia’s house in Atchison, Kansas, Millie stumbles upon a display of Amelia’s famous flight goggles. She can’t believe her good luck, since they’re about to be relocated to a fancy museum in Washington, DC. But her luck changes quickly when the goggles disappear, and Millie was the last to see them. Soon, fingers are pointing in all directions, and someone falls strangely ill. Suddenly, a fun night of scavenger hunts and sweets takes a nosedive and the girls aren’t sure who to trust. With a blizzard raging outside and a house full of suspects, the girls have no choice but to band together. It’s up to the Amelia Six to find the culprit and return the goggles to their rightful place. Or the next body to collapse could be one of theirs.
Case Closed #1: Mystery in the Mansion
Published: August 14, 2018
Carlos Serrano has never solved a mystery in his life. But when Carlos’s mom gets sick with a flu on the morning of an investigation that could save her failing detective agency, Carlos takes on the case.
With the help of his best friend, Eliza, and her wild little brother, Frank, Carlos must uncover a mystery involving an eccentric local millionaire, anonymous death threats, and a buried treasure. But with tricky riddles, cagey suspects, hidden secrets, and dozens of impossible choices, they need your help!
Can you help Carlos and his friends find the culprit and save Las Pistas Detective Agency? Or will it be case closed?
The Boxcar Children Mysteries: #1, The Boxcar Children
Published: January 1, 1924
Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny are four recently orphaned siblings (in the 1924 version of the tale, the children are orphaned in the first few pages; in the heavily revised and simplified 1942 revision, they have evidently been orphaned for some time). Not wishing to live with their hard-hearted grandfather, whom they have never met because of his disapproval of their parents’ marriage, the children strike out on their own. On a cold night, the children stop at a bakery to ask for food. They are invited to stay the night, but while there, the children overhear the baker and his wife discussing a plan to keep the older children as labor while sending young Benny to an orphanage (in the 1924 version, they plan to send the children to their grandfather). The children escape and flee to the woods.
Published: January 1, 2010
Fifth-grader “Encyclopedia” Leroy Brown solves ten mysteries and by putting the solutions at the back of the book, challenges the reader to do the same.
Published: March 10, 2020
Sara Martinez is a hacker. She recently broke into the New York City foster care system to expose her foster parents as cheats and lawbreakers. However, instead of being hailed as a hero, Sara finds herself facing years in a juvenile detention facility and banned from using computers for the same stretch of time. Enter Mother, a British spy who not only gets Sara released from jail but also offers her a chance to make a home for herself within a secret MI6 agency.
Operating out of a base in Scotland, the City Spies are five kids from various parts of the world. When they’re not attending the local boarding school, they’re honing their unique skills, such as sleight of hand, breaking and entering, observation, and explosives. All of these allow them to go places in the world of espionage where adults can’t.
Before she knows what she’s doing, Sara is heading to Paris for an international youth summit, hacking into a rival school’s computer to prevent them from winning a million euros, dangling thirty feet off the side of a building, and trying to stop a villain…all while navigating the complex dynamics of her new team.
No one said saving the world was easy…
There they are: 9 great books like Nancy Drew! Which of these have you read? Which ones would you add?