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Literary Genres

Genres in Fiction:
Genre is the term used to describe the various types of literature.
Genre is a French term derived from the Latin genus, generis, meaning "type,"
"sort," or "kind." It designates the literary form or type into hich orks are
classified according to hat they have in common, either in their formal
structures or in their treatment of sub!ect matter, or both. "he study of genres
may be of value in three ays. #n the simplest level, grouping orks offers us
an orderly ay to talk about an otherise beildering number of literary te$ts.
%ore importantly, if e recogni&e the genre of a te$t, e may also have a better
idea of its intended overall structure and'or sub!ect. Finally, a genre approach
can deepen our sense of the value of any single te$t, by alloing us to vie it
comparatively, alongside many other te$ts of its type.
Fiction includes stories that are made up in the mind of the author. "hey are make*believe or
imaginary. "he stories are not true, although they may be based on truth, including scientific, historical, or
geographic fact.
+ome of the ma!or subdivisions of fiction are realistic fiction, historical fiction, and fantasy.
Realistic fiction includes stories that seem like real life, and stories that could happen in today,s
orld. "he situations are true to life or could be true, but the characters are made up.
o Adventure stories are a type of realistic fiction that are e$citing and usually have an aspect
of peril, threat, or danger. Hatchet, by Gary -aulsen, is an adventure story.
o Mystery stories are also a type of realistic fiction that include an element of suspense and
secrecy. +omething pu&&ling usually needs solving and a crime is fre.uently involved. "here
are typically good guys and bad guys. /$amples are The Dark Stairs, by 0etsy 0yars and
Nate the Great, by %ar!orie +harmat.
o Humorous stories refer to stories that are primarily intended to entertain and amuse. /vents
are fre.uently e$aggerated. 1n e$ample is Harris and Me, by Gary -aulsen. "hese may also
include family stories such as Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, by 2udy 0lume and school
stories such as The Best Christmas Pageant Eer, by 3eronica 4obinson.
Historical fiction includes stories that take place in the past and that are based on historical fact.
5sually the setting and the events in the story are close to the facts, but the characters are made
up. 6oever, historical fiction may include real people as characters. /$amples of books ith
real people included among the characters are !ohnn" Tremain, by /sther Forbes and #, !uan
de Pare$a, by /li&abeth 0orton de "revino. 7ar stories and biographical fiction are types of
historical fiction.
o War stories are historical fiction books set during a period of ar and conflict. /$amples
are Num%er the Stars, by Lois Lory, and Base%all Saed &s, by 8en %ochi&uki.
o Biographical fiction includes stories in hich the main character is one ho really lived
in an earlier period of history. "he 9ear 1merica and %y :ame Is 1merica series are
biographical fiction stories ritten in a !ournal style.
Fantasy boos are make believe stories that are so fantastic that they can;t possibly be
true. "hey often include animals behaving like people. /$amples are !ames and the Giant
Peach, by 4aold 9ahl and The 'dentures of 'lice in (onderland, by Louis <arroll.
o Fantasy animal stories are stories in hich the animals are given human
characteristics, such as earing clothing, speaking or making decisions. /$amples are
Charlotte)s (e%, by /. 0. 7hite= Ba%e the Gallant Pig, by 9ick 8ing*+mith and
Clifford, the Big *ed Dog, by :orman 0ridell.
o Ghost stories or supernatural fiction are stories in hich one or more of the characters
may be visitors from the spirit orld. /$amples are !ade Green, by -hyllis 4eynolds
:aylor= and (ait Till Helen Comes, by %ary 6ahn.
o !ime fantasy and space fiction are fantasy stories in hich the characters travel back
and'or forard in time. /$amples are Time Train, by +id Fleischman and The Castle in
the 'ttic, by /li&abeth 7inthrop.
o "cience fiction includes stories that are based on scientific fact. It can include space
fiction and time travel. In time travel and space fiction, the characters travel back and'or
forard in time. In stories for children, the characters often begin in the real orld, go off
on their adventure, and then return to the real orld. "he author tries to make the facts
as realistic as possible so the reader believes the event could actually take place.
1lthough fantastic, science fiction contains elements ithin the realm of possibility
because of scientific discovery. /$amples are The Gier, by Lois Lory= *unning +ut
of Time, by %argaret 6addi$= and ' (rinkle in Time, by %adeleine L,/ngle.
o High fantasy series are stories that are epic in nature, usually include a .uest of some
sort that continues over many volumes, including many that echo the 1rthurian .uests for
truth and !ustice. +eries such as <.+. Leis, :arnia series, Lloyd 1le$ander,s -rydian
cycle, and 2ane >olen,s ">oung %erlin" series are in that category. "he +tar 7ars saga
and the 6arry -otter series are also in this genre.
#onfiction boos are books are factual books, and are usually classified ith 9eey 9ecimal
numbers "here are some special genres ithin the nonfiction category, such as biography, poetry,
drama, and folk or traditional literature.
o Biographies are, as defined by the +,ford English Dictionar", the history of the lives
of individual men and omen as a branch of literature. 0iographies for children differ
somehat from biographies for adults. For e$ample, they don,t usually include footnotes,
although modern biographies for children usually include a bibliography of sources.
7hereas fictionali&ed biographies are included in historical fiction, factual, authentic
depictions of a person;s real life story are biographies. $ollective biographies are books
that group short chapter*length biographies together around a theme. For e$ample,
Black Stars in +r%it, by 8hephra 0urns, a collective biography of black astronauts.
0iographies are ritten by persons other than the sub!ect of the story, hereas
autobiographies are books people rite about their on lives.
o %oetry includes single, illustrated poems ?such as Hia-atha, by 6enry 7adsorth
Longfello, illustrated by +usan 2effers@ and collections of poetry by one poet ?such as
(here the Side-alk Ends, by +hel +ilverstein@ or collections of many poets, orks
compiled by an editor ?such as For .aughing +ut .ouder, edited by 2ack -relutsky@.
o &rama includes orks ritten in dramatic form. 0ooks can include collections of short
plays or book*length plays, such as the orks of +hakespeare.
o Fol literature or traditional literature includes stories that have been passed don
from generation to generation. Myths are stories of the gods and heroes of ancient
times, and are sometimes classified in the religion section of the 9eey 9ecimal
<lassification +ystem ?ABA@, hereas foltales, fol riddles' nursery rhymes and
Mother Goose are classified in CBD, CBD.A, or CBD.AE. "hese stories often contain
elements of cultural identity, such as traditions, cultural mores, and rituals. +ometimes,
elements of religious belief of the people are included. (pics are long stories that
originate as poetry or song and that celebrate a national hero. Beo-ulf and El Cid are
epics, as are The #liad and The +d"sse" by 6omer. Hero stories and legends include
the 1merican tall tales, such as stories of -aul 0unyan or -ecos 0ill. "all tales usually
include hyperbole, or e$aggeration, about the hero. /uropean hero stories and legends
include stories of 4obin 6ood and 8ing 1rthur and his knights, many including elements
of mythology ithin the stories.
o Fables includes narration demonstrating a useful truth, especially in hich animals speak
as humans. 1 legendary, supernatural tale.
$ross)genre books are books that fall into more than one category. 1 book may be a mystery
fantasy= or a historical fiction time travel story. 1n e$ample is The Deil)s 'rithmetic, by 2ane
>olen, that is a story that includes time travel back to the 6olocaust hile the main character lives
in modern times.
Websites about Genres:
0i&ic, %im ?Librarian, Fuaker 3alley +chool 9istrict, +eickley, -1@( http('''"eacher
Gabb, <arolyn(
Genreflecting( http('''
6elping <hildren 5nderstand Literary Genres. E*#C Digest/ /4I< <learinghouse on 4eading, /nglish,
and <ommunication, Indiana 5niversity, ADHJ /. EHth +t., +uite EJH, 0loomington, I:
Genre Lesson *deas:
All genres:
+tudents complete library search orksheets using the online catalog to identify up to five other books
related to a specific genre that they ould like to read in the future.
"he children make and bring to the library'classroom an ob!ect from their book that has magical poers
and rite about ho it fits into the story. For e$ample, a magic and that they made, a book, a slipper.
"his orks if the teacher can follo up in the classroom to remind them.
Historical Fiction:
+tudents create timelines of ten events that really happened in history at the time the book takes place.
"hey could be events that happened in the book.
%ake up clues for several groups. "he clue for each group led to another clue somehere in the library.
7hen the students found the second clue, it led them to a mystery book on the shelf. "hey pulled it and
sit don until everyone has finished. 4ead the titles of all the books found and ask hat these books
have in common. +ho students a poster ith criteria for a good mystery book(
*<haracters are ell developed.
*4eader can solve mystery along ith main character because all clues are given
*-lot engages the reader and propels the reader on through the book.
*"he mystery is solved at end of the book.
%rofessional Boos about Genres:
1sher, +andy, ed. But That0s 'nother Stor"1 Famous 'uthors #ntroduce Po2ular Genres+ :>(
7alker -ublishing <o, EBB).
0uss, 8athleen, and 8arnoski, Lee. *eading and (riting .iterar" Genres/ International 4eading
1ssociation, AHHH.
Fletcher, 4alph, and -ortalupi, 2oann. Craft .essons1 Teaching (riting 345/ +tenhouse -ublishers,
Fountas, Irene <., and -innell, Gay +u. Guiding *eaders and (riters 6Grades 74891 Teaching
Com2rehension, Genre, and Content .iterac"/ 6einemann, AHHE.
6arvey, +tephanie. Nonfiction Matters1 *eading, (riting, and *esearch in Grades 745/ +tenhouse
-ublishers, EBBD.
IIIII, and Goudvis, 1nne. Strategies That (ork1 Teaching Com2rehension to Enhance
&nderstanding/ +tenhouse -ublishers, AHHH.
McCarth", Tara/ Teaching Genre 6Grades :459/ +cholastic, EBBB.
IIIII. Teaching Genre1 Biogra2h" 6Grades :459/ +cholastic, AHHE.
IIIII. Teaching Genre1 Historical Fiction 6Grades :459/ +cholastic, AHHE.
IIIII. Teaching Genre1 Humorous Fiction 6Grades :459/ +cholastic, AHHE.
IIIII. Teaching Genre1 !ournals ; Diaries 6Grades :459/ +cholastic, AHHE.
IIIII. Teaching Genre1 M"steries 6Grades :459/ +cholastic, AHHE.
IIIII. Teaching Genre1 M"ths and .egends 6Grades :459/ +cholastic, AHHE.
-ortapouli, 2oanne, and Fletcher, 4alph 2. Nonfiction Craft .essons1 Teaching #nformation (riting
345/ +tenhouse -ublishers, AHHE.
7ithington, 2anice 2. Genres of .iterature1 Thematic Stud" Guides ; Bi%liogra2hies/ "orrance, <1(
Good 1pple, EBB).