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I have three words for you: Mysterious Benedict Society. If I made a list of my top ten read-alouds, this would be on it. We listened to the audio book recently, and although we’d read the book to my older kids before, it was fun to see my six-year-old experience the story for the first time.

The Mysterious Benedict Society is the story of four unusually gifted kids brought together by benevolent genius Mr. Benedict to save the world. Each child’s gifts are unique and essential to the mission. The story is full of puzzles, mystery ,danger, adventure, and friendship. Here’s what I love about it.

  1. Friendship–Being a true friend is a huge theme in The Mysterious Benedict Society with lots of great examples, both kids and adults. And, in fact, these kids need each other, even Kate, who at first believes she can handle the mission alone.
  2. Mind-benders–So, maybe I was a nerdy kid, but I love that the heroes of this book are highly intelligent kids (two are gifted in this way and two are gifted in other ways). In addition, your kids will be trying to puzzle out solutions right along with Reynie Muldoon. In fact, there’s even a puzzle book to go along with this series.
  3. Tough Choices–Reynie and his friends are faced with more than one moral dilemma as they work to stop Mr. Curtain’s nefarious plot. And I think this is a good thing. Not every choice our kids are faced with is black and white, and it’s good for them to have to wrestle with these kinds of decisions alongside a fictional character.
  4. Lots to Discuss–Speaking of tough choices, one of the reasons this book makes such a great read-aloud is that it’s packed full of themes and situations that can spark great family discussions!

There is some danger and a few intense scenes in the book (and the subsequent books grow in intensity), so it may not be great for younger or sensitive kids. Also, for adoptive parents, two of the children are orphans (but find homes in the end), so if that is a trigger issue for your child, please be aware.

And don’t be surprised when you child wants to play chess, learn Morse code, or form their own Mysterious Benedict Society.

Also, since it’s been a while since Trenton Lee Stewart’s last book, I was very excited to learn he has a new book coming out in the fall of 2016 titled, The Secret Keepers.

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What books would make your top ten favorite read-alouds list?

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