The Best Age for a Mail Order Mystery: Breaking It Down


We get a lot of questions at Mail Order Mystery, but this one we hear often: “What is the best age for a Mail Order Mystery?” The short answer is 8 -12. That's the age we were thinking of when we designed the mysteries. But thanks to your great feedback we know that our mysteries appeal to younger as well as older kids, and we often hear from parents that they got into it as much as their kids.

So we thought we would give you the long answer and really break it down for you, year by year.  

Ages 4 - 5: Although we have heard tell of five year olds who loved the mysteries, we recommend against buying for kids this young. They may like the pirate maps and the wax seals and so on, but they are too young to solve ciphers and clues and the story may be lost on them. Though they might enjoy following along as a brother or sister solves the mystery.

Ages 6 - 8: This is a great age for kids to do the pirate-themed Treasure Hunt and the fairy-tale themed Enchanted Slumber. Kids this age are magical thinkers and true believers. Even if you outright tell them the mystery is not real they may still choose not to believe you. We have heard delightful accounts of kids taking shovels to the backyard to bury their treasure, practising their jousting skills on cardboard horses, solemnly accepting their noble missions and begging for plane tickets to faraway islands.   

Ages 9 - 10: We recommend all three of our mysteries for kids this age. They can work through the ciphers, put together the clues, engage with the story and follow their curiosity wherever it may lead. The espionage-themed Spies, Lies and Serious Bad Guys is our most complex mystery, with various ciphers and clues within clues. We recommend 9 as the minimum age for Spies, or even 10 depending on the kid.

Ages 11 - 12: Spies, Lies and Serious Bad Guys is great for this age. Treasure Hunt and Enchanted Slumber may be less challenging than Spies, but if kids are intrigued by the subject matter (pirates, knights, princesses, fairy tales, medieval history) the stories themselves are highly engaging, the experience is novel and the keepsakes are pretty awesome. In other words, if your kids are into pirates or knights and princesses, go for it. There’s lots to like. If they’re more into the problem-solving, stick with Spies.

Age 12+: We get this question a lot and our best answer is that it really depends on the kid. Spies is challenging enough that we often get emails from parents who are stumped, but you have to decide whether or not it would be exciting for your particular 13 year old to be getting letters in the mail from a fictional spy school. Maybe, maybe not.

If you have any more questions we are always happy to help. Just contact us.