Reasons for Using and Teaching Mystery Books
According to young adult novelist Laurence Yep:
a good mystery challenges the mind. It presents a set of clues, some of which appear so contradictory they seem as tangled as the mythological Gordian knot. The detective wields reason like a knife slicing though the knot to the truth. . . . The stroke must be exact and sure because a mystery must reveal some truth about society and what we hope are the workings of our universe. The knife that cuts is also the knife that shapes us as creatures of reason, as social beings, as readers and writers. (Yep, 2003, p. 1521)
Although the mystery author creates an exciting or dangerous plot, he or she cleverly plants clues to help the reader solve the mystery along with the protagonist. With the many interesting stand-alone books and series currently available on a wide range of reading levels, there is a mystery to appeal to the reading tastes of almost every young adult.
Series mysteries continue to be popular with readers who enjoy the ongoing characters and the familiar settings. Not only do readers want to solve the mystery, but they also want to know more about the characters and watch them grow and change, something that did not happen in the early formula mystery series about Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys. In contemporary series, readers can connect with the characters and enjoy reading the solid and orderly format in a very disorderly time. As editor Kate Miciak states: “If a mystery is about disrupting order, then reinstating it, a series mystery is about how the characters who shape the plot not only bring order to their world, but also about how they change and grow because of what has just happened” (Dahlin, 2002). Connecting Adolescents and Their Literature 5-3 suggests one way to use mysteries across the curriculum.
© ______ 2006, Allyn & Bacon, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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