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A Teaching Guide for Mysteries and Whodunits

About this Daily Classroom Special:
A Teaching Guide for Mysteries and Whodunits
was written  by former Teachers Network web mentor, Lisa Kihn, a math and language arts teacher at Nevin Platt Middle School in Boulder, Colorado.

A Teaching Guide for Mysteries and Whodunits 

Study Guide Questions to Use with Mystery Books

Students in middle school can answer these general questions about mysteries after they finish reading a mystery book of their choosing. 

  1. There are different types of mysteries. Some deal with ghostly or supernatural powers. Some deal with strange human deceits and the unraveling of puzzles. Some deal with crimes and solutions. What type of mystery is this? Explain your choice and describe an event in the story that supports your decision.
  2. Draw a diagram that illustrates the plot structure of this book. Now list the major events or happenings in the story.
  3. Authors use many different techniques to make a mystery exciting and/or interesting (fast-paced action, mood, imagery, etc.). What did the author of this book do to make this story different and to make it a good mystery? Give examples from the book.
  4. Describe the part of the story that would have frightened you most had you been the character involved.
  5. Some mysteries are very realistic; others are imaginary. Could this mystery story have really happened? Why or why not? Give three examples from your story to support your stand.
  6. Settings contribute to a story. Describe the setting. Would the story have been as effective in another setting? Why or why not?
  7. One of the most important aspects of mysteries is that they tell us secrets. They tease us, and then lead us to think and ponder until at last we know the secret the author has to tell us. What do you think the main secret is in this mystery? Why?
  8. Who do you think is the most exciting or scariest or fascinating character in this story? Why? Write a paragraph describing this person, so that someone would be able to recognize and know this person should she/he meet the character in real life.
  9. Mysteries make us think about human nature, sometimes in new ways. On which aspects of human nature is the author concentrating? What is she/he saying about what these aspects of human nature do?
  10. How does the mystery genre differ from other genres you have studied?


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