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Start with a Book

Ricky Rocket

Books and activities for summer reading and learning from Reading Rockets

Start With a Book: Books and activities for summer reading and summer learning

Children's books and activities

Detectives and Explorers

Do you know any young sleuths, adventure-seekers, or explorers? We've gathered up a great collection of books, activities, apps, and websites for learning all about detectives and explorers.

Try pairing fiction with nonfiction books and exploring different genres (like poetry and biographies) and formats (like graphic novels and audio books). You'll be creating your own "text sets" — collections of texts focused on a specific topic, such as detectives and explorers. Reading widely in this way helps children build background knowledge, vocabulary, and comprehension skills.

You might also want to explore DIY Science Camp: Archaeology.

Detectives and Explorers

Great Fiction & Nonfiction Books

Age Level: 3-6 years old

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Alphabet Mystery

By: Audrey Wood

Age Level: 3-6 years old

When the lower case x from Charley's alphabet disappears, the other letters set off to find...

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Clothesline Clues to Jobs People Do

By: Katherine Heling, Deborah Hembrook

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Clothes on lines and a rhyming description ask readers to figure out what job the wearer might do....

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Follow That Map! A First Look at Mapping Skills

By: Scot Ritchie

Age Level: 3-6 years old

One day when Sally and her friends are playing, they notice that her dog and cat are missing....

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I Spy Mystery: A Book of Picture Riddles

By: Jean Marzollo

Age Level: 3-6 years old

The I Spy books ask readers to use their sharp eyes to solve the rhyming riddles and...

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Polo: The Runaway Book

By: Regis Faller

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Fiction

The chase is on when Polo's book is stolen by a small alien. Polo, an engaging hound, pulls...

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When You Wander: A Search-and-Rescue Dog Story

By: Margarita Engle

Age Level: 3-6 years old

A golden retriever with a "smart nose" is doing his job: tracking down a young child lost in the...

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Why?

By: Richard Torrey

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Nonfiction

All scientific inquiry begins with a question, something at which Jack is quite adept. He wonders...

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Young Cam Jansen and the Lost Tooth

By: David Adler

Age Level: 3-6 years old

Is there really such a thing as a "photographic memory"? That's how Cam Jansen got her nickname...

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Age Level: 6-9 years old

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7 Ate 9

By: Tara Lazar

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Private I tries to assuage 6 who just knows that 7 is coming to get him! Why? Because 7 8 9, of...

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A Big Day for Baseball

By: Mary Pope Osborne

Age Level: 6-9 years old

When Jack and Annie don the magic baseball hats given to them by Morgan, they find themselves...

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Ace Lacewing: Bug Detective

By: David Biedrzycki

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Ace Lacewing — whose business is bad bugs — narrates the saga of how he and his trusty...

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cover of "Archeologists Dig for Clues" showing kids looking at a dig grid map

Archaeologists Dig for Clues

By: Kate Duke

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Archaeologists on a dig work very much like detectives at a crime scene. Every chipped rock,...

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Around the World: Three Remarkable Journeys

By: Matt Phelan

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

Follow three long ago adventurers who traveled around the world by bike, by herself, and on a...

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Baby Monkey, Private Eye

By: Brian Selznick , David Serlin

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Who is Baby Monkey? Well, he’s a baby and a monkey but one with a job: he’s a Private Eye!...

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Barnum's Bones: How Barnum Brown Discovered the Most Famous Dinosaur in the World

By: Tracey Fern

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Even as a child, Barnum Brown started collecting fossils. This boy from Carbondale, Kansas, grew up...

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By the Great Horn Spoon!

By: Sid Fleischman

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Jack leaves the comfort of his aunt's Boston home lured west by the California Gold Rush....

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Cam Jansen and the Green School Mystery

By: David Adler

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Cam (short for "Camera") uses her photographic memory to help solve the theft of the...

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illustrated cover of Chasing Vermeer showing a boy holding a flashlight and a woman inside a museum.

Chasing Vermeer

By: Blue Balliett

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Fiction

As mysterious things happen in and around their Chicago school, Petra and Calder use their...

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Chet Gecko, Private Eye Series

By: Bruce Hale

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Chet Gecko is a sassy, wisecracking fourth-grade detective. Along with Natalie Attired, his...

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Dare the Wind: The Record-breaking Voyage of Eleanor Prentiss and the Flying Cloud

By: Tracey Fern

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Ellen Prentiss "was born with saltwater in her veins" whose father taught her to sail and navigate...

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Detective LaRue: Letters from the Investigation

By: Mark Teague

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Ike LaRue, famous correspondent (introduced in Dear Mrs. LaRue) known by readers as a four...

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Encyclopedia Brown Series

By: Donald Sobol

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Boy detective Encyclopedia Brown is the fifth-grade mastermind behind Idaville's police...

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cover of "Flotsam" showing a fish's eye

Flotsam

By: David Wiesner

Age Level: 6-9 years old

A bright, science-minded boy goes to the beach equipped to collect and examine flotsam —...

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Gold in the Hills: A Tale of the Klondike Gold Rush

By: Candice Ransom

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Slide back to 1897 with Mattie, Alex, and Sophie where they meet a young writer named Jack London...

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Hermelin the Detective Mouse

By: Mini Grey

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Offley is a vibrant street where a delightful white mouse named Hermelin lives and narrates his...

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cover of "How the Sphinx Got to the Museum" showing stages of the journey

How the Sphinx Got to the Museum

By: Jessie Hartland

Age Level: 6-9 years old

The history of the Hatshepsut sphinx: from its carving in ancient Egypt to its arrival in the...

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Hurricane

By: David Wiesner

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Fiction

As the sky grays and the leaves swirl by in a "green blizzard," two young boys and...

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Julian, Secret Agent

By: Ann Cameron

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Julian narrates the story of how he, his little brother Huey and best friend Gloria become...

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Keep On! The Story of Matthew Henson

By: Deborah Hopkinson

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Matthew Henson, the African American who accompanied Robert Peary on an expedition to the North...

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King & Kayla and the Case of the Secret Code

By: Dori Hillestad Butler

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Kayla is a human girl who solves mysteries with a bit of help from her dog, King. Together they...

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Letters from Camp: A Mystery

By: Kate Klise

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Three pairs of siblings, sent to a summer camp that helps brothers and sisters get along, must...

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Melonhead and the Undercover Operation

By: Katy Kelly

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Melonhead and his friend Sam go undercover thinking that they have identified a notorious...

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Monster Hunt: Exploring Mysterious Creatures

By: Jim Arnosky

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Author/illustrator and self-taught naturalist Jim Arnosky introduces mysteries that surround...

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Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11

By: Brian Floca

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Relive the journey of the Apollo 11 where the first people stepped on the moon's surface...

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Mrs. Harkness and the Panda

By: Alicia Porter

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

Ruth Harkness continued her husband's work after his death. She traveled alone to China alone,...

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Nate the Great

By: Marjorie Weinman Sharmat

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Meet Nate the Great, the neighborhood detective. He's just finishing up breakfast (pancakes...

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Patterns in Peru: An Adventure in Patterning

By: Cindy Neuschwander

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Matt and his twin sister, Bibi accompany their scientist parents to Peru where they stumble into an...

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cover of "Seeker of Knowledge" showing man looking at hieroglyphics

Seeker of Knowledge: The Man Who Deciphered Egyptian Hieroglyphs

By: James Rumford

Age Level: 6-9 years old

In 1802, when Champollion was eleven years old, he vowed to be the first person to read Egypt...

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Sharuko: El Arqueólogo Peruano Julio C. Tello / Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello

By: Monica Brown

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

 A bilingual picture book biography of Peruvian archaeologist and national icon Julio C....

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Super Sniffers: Dog Detectives On the Job

By: Dorothy Hinshaw Hinshaw Patent

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Explore the many ways specific dogs put their super sniffing ability to use: from bedbug sniffers...

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The Boxcar Children: Houseboat Mystery

By: Gertrude Chandler Warner

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny used to live alone in a boxcar. Now they have a home with heir...

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photo cover of The Buzz on Bees showing bee against blue sky

The Buzz on Bees: Why Are They Disappearing?

By: Shelly Rotner, Anne Woodhull

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Bees have been around for over 65 million years but have been in decline since early in the 21st...

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The Capital Catch (Ballpark Mysteries)

By: Dsavid A. Kelly

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Fiction

Mike and Kate are back to solve a new mystery. This one is in the Nation’s Capital, where the...

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The Dinosaur Museum

By: National Geographic

Age Level: 6-9 years old

This interactive guide takes you on a room-by-room tour of a natural history museum.You can open...

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illustrated cover of The Great Art Caper showing splattered paint and a hamster with a paint brush

The Great Art Caper

By: Victoria Jamieson

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Fiction

GW, the hamster enjoys his evenings with his animal friends and is even beginning to like the...

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illustrated cover of "The Museum Book" showing the front of a columned building

The Museum Book: A Guide to Strange and Wonderful Collections

By: Jan Mark

Age Level: 6-9 years old

People have kept old and interesting things for a long, long time — in fact, Princess Bel-Shati...

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illustrated cover of The Secret Cave showing person holding lantern as they enter a cave.

The Secret Cave: Discovering Lascaux

By: Emily Arnold McCully

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Nonfiction

While looking for gold, four French boys accidentally discovered what was to be considered the...

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The Stunning Science of Everything: Science with the Squishy Bits Left In

By: Nick Arnold, Tony De Saulles

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Sophisticated young scientists will enjoy dipping in and out of this funny but edifying...

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The Talking T. Rex (An A to Z Mystery)

By: Ron Roy

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Friends and amateur detectives Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose set out to help their friend whose...

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The Top of the World: Climbing Mount Everest

By: Steve Jenkins

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Exploring its history, geography, climate, and culture, this unique book takes readers on the...

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The Wrigley Riddle

By: David Kelly

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Go inside Wrigley Field where the Chicago Cubs play baseball with Mike and Katie as they solve the...

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What Darwin Saw: The Journey that Changed the World

By: Rosalyn Schanzer

Age Level: 6-9 years old

Young Charles Darwin's voyages on the Beagle are presented in meticulously detailed (and...

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Age Level: 9-12 years old

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cover of Archaeolo for Kids showing images including the Spinx and hieroglyphics.

Archaeology for Kids

By: Richard Panchyk

Age Level: 9-12 years old

This activity book features 25 projects such as building a screen for sifting dirt at a dig,...

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Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers (Science Comics Series)

By: MK Reed

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

In this graphic novel, learn all about the history of paleontology! This fascinating look...

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illustrated cover of Exploring Space showing a space rover.

Exploring Space: From Galileo to the Mars Rover and Beyond

By: Martin Jenkins

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

From the ancient astronomers to the latest ideas about building a space elevator to make...

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Flush

By: Carl Hiaasen

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Noah's dad is sure that the owner of the Coral Queen casino boat is flushing raw sewage into the...

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Historium: Welcome to the Museum

By: Jo Nelson

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Welcome to the museum! Discover a collection of curated objects on every page, accompanied by...

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Homer on the Case

By: Henry Cole

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Fiction

A homing pigeon teams up with a parrot and their humans to investigate an animal crime spree in...

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How We Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis and Clark

By: Rosalyn Schanzer

Age Level: 9-12 years old

The Lewis and Clark expedition was well-documented by the explorers themselves; their travels...

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I, Matthew Henson: Polar Explorer

By: Carole Boston Weatherford

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

Matthew Henson, an African American explorer, accompanied Robert Peary to the North Pole where...

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I, Matthew Henson: Polar Explorer

By: Carole Boston Weatherford

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Matthew Henson, an African American, accompanied Robert Peary to the North Pole where together...

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cover of "If Stones Could Speak" showing a photo of Stonehenge

If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking the Secrets of Stonehenge

By: Marc Aronson

Age Level: 9-12 years old

No matter how much is known, there's always more to learn. In a fascinating re-examination of...

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Illustrated cover of Lost In Outer Space showing spaceship and debris in space.

Lost in Outer Space: The Incredible Journey of Apollo 13

By: Tod Olson

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

From "Houston, we've had a problem" to the final tense moments at Mission Control, Lost in Outer...

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Mr. Chickee's Funny Money

By: Christopher Paul Curtis

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nine-year-old Steven has a quadrillion-dollar bill. Agent Fondoo and the U.S. Treasury Department...

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cover of "Muddy Max" showing a boy half covered in mud. The muddy side has large muscles

Muddy Max: The Mystery of Marsh Creek

By: Elizabeth Rusch

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Max and his soil scientist parents live in a marsh where Max discovers mud’s special properties...

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Park Scientists: Gila Monsters, Geysers, and Grizzly Bears in America’s Own Backyard

By: Mary Kay Carson

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Meet up with scientists studying geysers, grizzlies, salamanders, cacti, and fireflies in some of...

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Real Pigeons Fight Crime

By: Andrew McDonald

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Fiction

What do real pigeons do? They fight crime, of course! Meet the heroic pigeons secretly flying...

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Saving Kabul Corner

By: N.H. Senzai

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Twelve-year-old Ariana, a tomboy, and her ladylike cousin Laila, recently arrived from...

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Secret Coders

By: Gene Yang

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Hopper dreads moving but dreads attending Stately Academy. Is it creepy beyond imagination; but...

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Secret Coders: Secrets & Sequences

By: Gene Luen Yang

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Can the three friends — Eni, Hopper, and Josh — foil the dastardly principal to save the day?...

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illustrated cover of "The Secrets of Stonehenge" showing stonhenge

Secrets of Stonehenge

By: Mick Manning

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Why was this amazing monument erected? How did our Stone-Age ancestors bring such massive stones...

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Sharuko: Peruvian Archaeologist Julio C. Tello / El Arqueólogo Peruano Julio C. Tello

By: Monica Brown

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Nonfiction

Peruvian archaeologist and national icon Julio C. Tello unearthed Peru's ancient cultures and...

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cover of "Stones, Bones, and Petroglyphs" showing a lizard on a rock in fron of a valley

Stones, Bones, and Petroglyphs: Digging into Southwest Archaeology

By: Susan Goodwin

Age Level: 9-12 years old

Ancestral Puebloan people lived in the Mesa Verde region of Colorado for over a thousand years,...

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Tesla’s Attic

By: Neal Shusterman

Age Level: 9-12 years old

The first in the Accelerati Trilogy, 14-year old Nick, his younger brother and his father have...

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Cover of the 5000-year-old Puzzle showing a boy surrounded by postcards, newspapers, and pyramids.

The 5,000-Year-Old Puzzle: Solving a Mystery of Ancient Egypt

By: Claudi Logan

Age Level: 9-12 years old

It is 1924, two years after the discovery of King Tut's tomb. Readers are invited to join a...

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cover of "The Mighty Mars Rovers" showing a photo of a mars rover

The Mighty Mars Rovers

By: Elizabeth Rusch

Age Level: 9-12 years old

This book tells the greatest space robot adventure of all time through the eyes — and heart — of...

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