What is mystery text?

What is mystery text?
Mystery text explained for parents, including examples of how children might work on crime stories in KS2 and suggestions of great mystery story books for children aged 8 to 12.
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What is a mystery text?

A mystery story is one in which an unexplained event has occurred. The usual format for a mystery story is one where a crime is committed and then a detective has to work out who committed the crime and how (and possibly why!).

Mystery stories are a great way to get children interested in fiction: in a good mystery story, suspense is build up throughout the text, making the reader want to keep on reading. Mystery stories are also a good platform for discussing characters’ behaviour and motives with children.

Mystery text in primary school

In Year 3, there is a suggested literacy unit called ‘Adventure and Mystery’. In this unit, children will start by reading a mystery story and discussing the characters and setting. There may be a moral dilemma in the story which children need to discuss. All of this helps children to enhance their inference skills and their ability to empathise with characters. They will then look at the sentence structure of the story, including sentences types and lengths. They may look at how sentence structure is used for effect; for example, the author might use a series of short sentences in a particularly scary part of the story.

Children will carry out activities related to the story: they may be asked to write a letter from one character to another or they may do some drama related to the story.

Eventually, children will start to think about writing their own mystery story. They will look again at the structure of a mystery story. For example: the original story may start with a murder and three suspects. The next part of the story might involve a detective interviewing the suspects and then finding a clue that leads him to discover who the murderer is. The teacher will encourage their class to use a similar structure to plan their own story. Usually they will be given a writing frame with prompts to remind them how to structure their story.

Children will then start to draft their story, remembering to include good description and dialogue. The teacher will spend time showing them how to do this effectively. They will work on editing their initial drafts and re-writing them. Finally, they will write their stories up in neat. Teachers usually try to find attractive ways of presenting finished stories, such as making booklets for the children to write in, or carrying out an art lesson where children can paint pictures to go with their stories. These activities help children to value what they are doing and encourage them to work hard to produce a really engaging finished product.

Mystery stories for primary-school children

Recommended by teachers and other children and guaranteed to keep kids reading under the bedcovers long past bedtime...