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 which works are classified according to what they have in common, either in their formal structures or in their treatment of subject matter, or both. The study of genres may be of value in three ways. On the simplest level, grouping works offers us an orderly way to talk about an otherwise bewildering number of literary texts. More importantly, if we recognize the genre of a text, we may also have a better idea of its intended overall structure and/or subject. Finally, a genre approach can deepen our sense of the value of any single text, by allowing us to view it comparatively, alongside many other texts of its type.” 1. Fiction includes stories that are made up in the mind of the author. They are “make-believe” or imaginary. The stories are not true, although they may be based on truth, including scientific, historical, or geographic fact. Some of the major 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 world. The situations are true to life or could be true, but the characters are made up.

Adventure stories are a type of realistic fiction that are exciting and usually have an aspect of peril, threat, or danger. Hatchet, by Gary Paulsen, is an adventure story. Mystery stories are also a type of realistic fiction that include an element of suspense and secrecy. Something puzzling usually needs solving and a crime is frequently involved. There are typically good guys and bad guys. Examples are The Dark Stairs, by Betsy Byars and Nate the Great, by Marjorie Sharmat. Humorous stories refer to stories that are primarily intended to entertain and amuse. Events are frequently exaggerated. An example is Harris and Me, by Gary Paulsen. These may also include family stories such as Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, by Judy Blume and school stories such as The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, by Veronica Robinson.



Historical fiction includes stories that take place in the past and that are based on historical fact. Usually the setting and the events in the story are close to the facts, but the characters are made up. However, historical fiction may include real people as characters. Examples of books with real people included among the characters are Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes and I, Juan de Pareja, by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino. War stories and biographical fiction are types of historical fiction.

War stories are historical fiction books set during a period of war and conflict. Examples are Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry, and Baseball Saved Us, by Ken Mochizuki.

science fiction contains elements within the realm of possibility because of scientific discovery. including many that echo the Arthurian quests for truth and justice. such as biography. Babe the Gallant Pig. The “Dear America” and “My Name Is America” series are biographical fiction stories written in a journal style. Science fiction includes stories that are based on scientific fact. Although fantastic. Examples are Charlotte’s Web. Black Stars in Orbit.o Biographical fiction includes stories in which the main character is one who really lived in an earlier period of history. they don’t usually include footnotes. a collective biography of black astronauts. by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. B. Lewis’ Narnia series. poetry. The author tries to make the facts as realistic as possible so the reader believes the event could actually take place. by Sid Fleischman and The Castle in the Attic. Examples are The Giver. White. o o o o 2. Ghost stories or supernatural fiction are stories in which one or more of the characters may be visitors from the spirit world. In stories for children. drama. authentic depictions of a person's real life story are biographies. Examples are Jade Green. although modern biographies for children usually include a bibliography of sources. Time fantasy and space fiction are fantasy stories in which the characters travel back and/or forward in time. and folk or traditional literature. factual. by Dick King-Smith and Clifford. usually include a quest of some sort that continues over many volumes. The Star Wars saga and the Harry Potter series are also in this genre. by Norman Bridwell. the characters often begin in the real world. Examples are James and the Giant Peach. o Fantasy animal stories are stories in which the animals are given human characteristics. “the history of the lives of individual men and women as a branch of literature. and are usually classified with Dewey Decimal numbers There are some special genres within the nonfiction category. by Khephra Burns. and then return to the real world. and Wait Till Helen Comes. • Fantasy books are make believe stories that are so fantastic that they can't possibly be true. In time travel and space fiction. o Biographies are. by Lois Lowry. by Margaret Haddix. Series such as C. and A Wrinkle in Time. Running Out of Time. the Big Red Dog. Examples are Time Train. It can include space fiction and time travel. as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary. go off on their adventure. Nonfiction books are books are factual books. High fantasy series are stories that are epic in nature. by Mary Hahn. the characters travel back and/or forward in time. by E. by Raold Dahl and The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland. by Louis Carroll. such as wearing clothing. They often include animals behaving like people. by Madeleine L’Engle. by Elizabeth Winthrop. For example. speaking or making decisions. Whereas fictionalized biographies are included in historical fiction. Biographies are . Lloyd Alexander’s Prydian cycle. For example.S. and Jane Yolen’s "Young Merlin" series are in that category.” Biographies for children differ somewhat from biographies for adults. Collective biographies are books that group short chapter-length biographies together around a theme.

Hero stories and legends include the American tall tales. 398. These stories often contain elements of cultural identity.21. cultural mores. or 398. European hero stories and legends include stories of Robin Hood and King Arthur and his knights. Fables includes narration demonstrating a useful truth.written by persons other than the subject of the story. An example is The Devil’s Arithmetic. or exaggeration. edited by Jack Prelutsky). Books can include collections of short plays or book-length plays. Beowulf and El Cid are epics. such as the works of Shakespeare. that is a story that includes time travel back to the Holocaust while the main character lives in modern times. folk riddles. o Poetry includes single. whereas folktales.2. A legendary. Cross-genre books are books that fall into more than one category. illustrated poems (such as Hiawatha. especially in which animals speak as humans. A book may be a mystery fantasy. as are The Iliad and The Odyssey by Homer. such as stories of Paul Bunyan or Pecos Bill. illustrated by Susan Jeffers) and collections of poetry by one poet (such as Where the Sidewalk Ends. Epics are long stories that originate as poetry or song and that celebrate a national hero. such as traditions. and rituals. whereas autobiographies are books people write about their own lives. and are sometimes classified in the religion section of the Dewey Decimal Classification System (292). Sometimes. about the hero. many including elements of mythology within the stories. Drama includes works written in dramatic form. or a historical fiction time travel story. o o o 3. supernatural tale. Myths are stories of the gods and heroes of ancient times. nursery rhymes and Mother Goose are classified in 398. by Shel Silverstein) or collections of many poets’ works compiled by an editor (such as For Laughing Out Louder. Tall tales usually include hyperbole. Folk literature or traditional literature includes stories that have been passed down from generation to generation. . by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. elements of religious belief of the people are included. by Jane Yolen.

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