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39 Clues

39 Clues

(Grades 3-6)

Number of Attendees:

I would say it depends on the amount of help you had and the size of the scavenger hunt. The first time I did it, I had about 20 kids with about 2 adult helpers. I paired the kids into a two-person team.


About 1 hour. You will have kids that accomplish the list early and you will have some that need a little more time.


  • Pencils
  • Questionaire
  • Genre/subject related books available
  • Small prize (I've given away extra ARCs to those with the closest answer and then bookmarks/pencils/erasers to all attendees.) 


Room Setup:

The children's room and some aspects of the main library. This all can be arranged around your “clues”.

Helpful Websites:




Flyer, website, local newspaper, online calendar, patron listserv 


I first did a “39 Clues” program about 3 years ago. It is essentially a library scavenger hunt, however each question is based on one of the books from the 39 Clues series. I varied my questionaire from easy to hard. Some questions are designed to get the kids acquainted with the library, for example “Where are the 39 Clues books located?”. Other questions are used to get kids accustomed to the Dewey Decimal system, “In One False Note, the second book in 39 Clues, Amy and Dan learn about the music composer Mozart. Where are NONFICTION books about music?”. Many of the questions were multiple choice so the kids could go to the specific areas, however I encouraged the kids to ask me questions and would wander the aisles to help those who might be struggling. The best thing about these questions are that they can be changed to suit your library and what you would like your kids to know. Also now there are a ton of 39 Clues books, you can not only make it subject specific, but author specific.

I did put a guideline for the scavenger hunt. Since I was using the children's room in a “competitive” way, I foresaw a lot of running and screaming. Therefore, I warned each team that they started with a certain amount of points; if I saw anyone running, screaming, pushing, etc. their points would drop and leave them at a disadvantage. Having a ten point start also helped some kids feel more comfortable if they were struggling with their questions. They knew they had something. I'd also suggest setting up some board games and cards in a “finish” area. Some of the kids will finish first and easily become bored. Being occupied kept them from rioting while waiting for others to finish. At the end, we all sat together and I would read a question and each team would give me their answer. It's a great learning experience!

(For me as well! I had written a question asking where I might find books on George Washington thinking the kids would put biographies. I had one team tell me the call number of the Revolutionary War, technically they were right! Taught me to be more specific when asking questions!) 

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