Generally speaking, Nancy Drew books have a reading level of ages 8-14, or grades 3-9.
Practically speaking, though, Nancy Drew works for just about all of us.
Look … does it really matter where the Nancy Drew reading levels fall?
I mean, unless you’re trying to buy a gift for your grandkid or want to make sure you meet the minimum requirements for some 100-book reading challenge down at the Y (or local watering hole)?
Nah, it doesn’t.
But I get it. Sometimes, you just need to quantify things. It’s part of the human condition.
And, while I can’t give you numbers, like “The Clue of the Black Keys is a level 4.9,” I can set your mind at ease.
Because, no matter where you are in your life, the Nancy Drew reading levels always match your own needs.
Here are just seven among the many ways that’s true.
Deep, Creeping Mystery
The Nancy Drew books capture the old-time deep, dark, shadowy mysteries like no other series out there.
The Hardy Boys offer up tons of adventure and intrigue, sure.
And R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps books certainly bring the creep factor and plenty of dark alleyways.
But, man, if you’re a fan of old-time mysteries, full of hidden staircases and disappearing criminals and subtle clues laced in the pages of a diary … well, Nancy is the detective for you!
I mean, just consider a few of her titles:
- The Secret of the Old Clock
- The Hidden Staircase
- The Clue in the Diary
- The Sign of the Twisted Candles
- The Witch Tree Symbol
Might as well add in there The Shadow that Swallowed a Weekend, because once you start reading Nancy, you won’t stop until the last page of the last book is done.
And then … you may not sleep!
Speaking of Nancy Drew book titles, how do these hit you?
The Mystery of the Tolling Bell
The Clue in the Crumbling Wall
You think of For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Great Wall of China, don’t you?
Well, I bet you will from now on.
And how about …
The Clue of the Whistling Bagpipes
The Clue of the Broken Locket
Clearly, the references are to Scotland and The Brady Bunch … right? Even though that second book was written decades before the Bradys ever sang a single ray of sunshine.
See, thing is, Nancy Drew books are filled to the brim with cultural references, from the historical to the geographical to the literary, and everything in between.
And if you don’t see those references, well, that just means there is a reading level somewhere up there above your own, and Nancy serves you both.
There’s this thing about grumpy old men …
Namely, we tend to recoil from crap that doesn’t look and feel like the crap we’re already used to. And if that crap we already know is crappy, well, that’s OK, because at least it’s our crap.
At its core, the world of Nancy Drew runs the risk of falling outside the realm of us grumps … not that she would or should care about that.
But the fact is, there is plenty here for even the most grizzled and salty among us to dig into.
Because, not only are the mysteries first-rate and generally easy to read, but there’s also Carson Drew.
Carson is Nancy’s dad, and depending on the story and your interpretation of the same, he is either old and frail, or old (but less old) and hip.
Either way, Nancy leans on Carson from time to time for his expertise (he’s a criminal lawyer — and a TV lawyer once the series came out) and his fatherliness, and he is generally respected and needed.
And we’d probably all be a lot more affable if we could get that same treatment once in awhile.
They used to say that behind every great man is a strong woman.
In the case of the Drews, though, we might say that behind every good family is a strong woman, who many not necessarily be a wife or mother.
Hannah Gruen is the live-in cook and housekeeper who stepped in to take care of the family after Nancy’s mother died, and she does a damn fine job of it.
So fine, in fact, that she is often pivotal in helping Nancy and Carson wrap up some of their toughest cases. She certainly keeps them always running on all cylinders.
Of course, you might wonder how things work out when two single, healthy adults come together under the same roof to raise a child they both love dearly.
I mean, it’s all innocent and platonic … right?
There is no way that Hannah and Carson could find themselves in a …
No, that doesn’t seem possible. They’re both too busy with their own work and their own (nonexistent) social lives to even notice each other in a non-professional sort of way.
And Hannah’s burning over-protection of the two Drews is down to just her commitment to honoring the memory of the long-dead Mrs. Drew.
No stolen glances.
No brush of the hand.
No Mystery of the Squeaking Floorboard in the Middle of the Night When Everyone Should be Asleep.
None of that.
Oh, and same goes for Nancy and her boyfriend, Ned Nickerson.
Just because he’s a hunk and she’s a forceful, accomplished young lady, that doesn’t mean anything other than movies and a malt ever transpires between them.
Aside from the gnarly puzzles and traps that tend to ensnarl Nancy, her tales can definitely slide under the Cozy Mystery umbrella when viewed through a certain lens.
The lens of friendship, for example.
Nancy rarely makes it through a case without the moral support, intellectual support, and physical oomph of her two besties, Bess Marvin and George Fayne.
The two girls are cousins and close friends with Nancy, but the similarities end there.
Bess is the girly girl, generally preferring dresses and dances to jeans and rugged hikes.
She scares easily but usually summonses enough courage to see cases through to the end, and her sharp mind often resolves riddles and clues that elude her peers.
On the other hand, George is a tomboy who won’t back down from any challenge or danger … even a boyfriend named Buck Rodman (yikes!).
Together, the young ladies form a nearly unstoppable sleuthing team, and a definitely unbreakable friendship.
You don’t have to read too far into the Nancy Drew series to figure out that Nancy can drive a car like nobody’s business.
So, if you ever commit a crime in River Heights and plan on careening out of town in your hot wheels … don’t bother. Nancy will track you down, no matter what.
But not only can Nancy handle the wheel like few others, she can also change a wheel (or, “change a tire,” in more common parlance).
And there are also hints here and there that she can pretty much take care of any sort of car repair — radiators, belts, brakes, and headlights are all fair game for young Miss Drew.
So, next time you need help with a busted whatchamagig on your car, you might consider forgoing that YouTube video and picking up a Nancy Drew mystery instead.
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