How To Understand Children's Book Genres

In the world of children's literature, there are many different types of genres to choose from. Children of different ages will generally show a preference for one genre over the other. No matter what genre they choose, the important thing is instilling a love of reading while they are still young. The books can be divided into two age groups.

For the younger child.

  1. Picture Books.  These are the baby books designed for infants and young toddlers.  They usually contain colorful pictures designed to draw attention to the story. Some of these books may not even have words. Most will revolve around the ABCs,  123s, colors, identifying everyday objects or nursery rhymes.
  2. Toddler Books.  These books are still very colorful and have a lot of pictures, but they also have more words and  a story line. They are still very short in length (as it is hard to get a toddler to sit still for any length of time) and may include lift the flaps or pop-ups to keep their attention. 
  3. Picture Story Books.  These are very short books (around 30 pages in length) and may contain up to 1600 words and are designed for ages 4-8.  They include pictures to emphasize the story.  The plot is very simple and easy to understand. Many of these books try to teach some sort of moral lesson to the child.

For the older child.

  1. Traditional Literature.  Many publishers have taken some of our  favorite literary classics and turned them into short, easy-to-read books for the under-12 crowd.  Some of these include A Christmas Carol, Huckleberry Finn, Treasure Island, and Little Women. This genre also includes folk tales, myths and legends.
  2. Historical Fiction. This has been a very popular children's genre thanks to the success of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books. In these books, an author takes a real time period with real facts, but the story might not be totally true.
  3. Biography. Biography books have risen in popularity over the past few years. In these books, a person's life is told by someone else. Many children enjoy reading about their heroes when they were their age.
  4. Realistic Fiction. In these books, a story is told that sounds like it could be true, but it comes totally from the imagination of the author. Many of these books come in a series such as the Junie B. Jones books or The Babysitter's Club.

  5. Fantasy.  Thanks to J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter books, fantasy has never been more popular with children.  Fantasy always contains something of the fantastic, such as magic, and there is always a hero fighting for the greater good.
  6. Nonfiction. There are several types of nonfiction books. It could be a book about science,  history, or modern facts. Many children enjoy the reality check of a good nonfiction book, especially those interested in discovery.


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