Explore the 7 Genres of Children’s Literature!

Date :
October 19, 2020

Is your child choosing the same sorts of books and re-reading old favourites? Entice them to try something new by exploring the 7 genres of children’s literature!

Literacy is very important. Ask any educator… whether they work as early childhood teachers, primary school teachers, high school teachers, or librarians – they’ll all tell you the same thing: there’s no such thing as rubbish when it comes to children’s literature. Whether your child chooses to read comic books, the Goosebumps series, or they’re hugely addicted to Charles Dickens, it’s all a positive step in the right direction, and you definitely do not want to discourage them. But what if you think they’re taking the easy road, and not choosing something that might challenge them? How do you encourage them to take the next step – from the easy chapter books they loved when they were younger to more challenging, longer books meant for more advanced readers? Read on to find out how exploring the 7 genres of children’s literature can help your child grow into a future voracious reader!

Children’s literature

What are the 7 genres of children’s literature?

Typically, children’s literature is categorised into the following 7 genres:

  • Picture books – Books that provide a visual experience through the telling of a story using images.

Kids reading May Gibbs books

  • Traditional literature – This includes folktales, fairytales, myths, legends, fables, and any other types of stories passed down throughout the generations. 
  • Realistic fiction – Books set in modern times and based on modern situations. These stories often allow children to experience different cultures or lifestyles to their own.
  • Historical fiction – Books set in a past time period that convey information about that period or a specific historical event. This is history through the viewpoint of a child. 
  • Fantasy and Science Fiction – This genre involves the use of imagination, worlds of magic and myth or stories set on alien planets. 
  • Non-fiction – Informational books that explain facts about a subject or concept in the real world. 
  • Poetry – Books written at different reading levels that introduce readers to condensed language, and imagery, as well as creative expression and imaginative perceptions.  

How can exploring these genres help your child advance to the next level in their reading?

The key ingredient to encouraging your child to expand their reading horizons is to play to their interests. If your child loves dragons or you find it impossible to pry them away from their Disney+ subscription, then you’ll want to start with fantasy or science fiction chapter books. It’s hard for a child to resist a book about their favourite topic. Try to move between genres to foster literacy development. If your child loves space, for example, you can move from the obvious non-fiction books to science fiction, and even historical fiction involving the space race or NASA. Your child might not have a preference, but until they do, encourage them to explore all of these genres. Book Trust in the UK have put together several lists that can help you get started. They even have a bookfinder function to make finding your child’s next book easier!

You should also encourage them to choose the books themselves – children are much more likely to be excited about a book they’ve chosen, and they’ll want to talk to you about it. Ask them questions about the book they’ve read and initiate a conversation. The more excited they are about a topic, the more they’ll want to read about it, and learn more about it. If they’re reading fiction, look for series rather than stand alones, as this encourages further reading. 

If your children are older – from age 10 and upwards – then asking your local public librarian or even checking sites like Goodreads for recommendations based on prior favourite authors can also be a huge help when looking for new titles. There are also sites like Who Next..? that can be very helpful. If your child loved the WeirDo books by Anh Do, they might try the Tom Gates books by Liz Pichon, which are for slightly older readers, or David Walliams’ books, which can be quite long and therefore challenging. 

For more information on encouraging your child to read, or on children’s literature in general, visit May Gibbs for a dose of Aussie kids’ literature today!

Librarian Bec

Librarian Bec
Right now, Librarian Bec’s hard at work at your local library, sharing a passion for reading with little people and big. Bec writes about inspiring little readers and embracing lovely literature.