Genres in Children's Literature

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  • 0:04 Genre: Definition
  • 1:03 Contemporary &…
  • 1:43 Historical Fiction
  • 2:07 Science Fiction
  • 2:35 Nonfiction & Poetry
  • 3:31 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Reading throughout childhood can be a powerful tool for healthy development. This lesson will explore the different genres in children's literature, including contemporary, historical and science fiction.

Genre: Definition

What types of books do you like to read? Are you a mystery buff? Do you enjoy reading reflections about the world around you. Or are romance novels your thing? These different types of books are examples of specific genres.

The genre of a book is determined by the content of the book. Some broad literary genres include fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. Whereas the content in fiction books is make-believe, nonfiction books depict things that really happened, and poems express feelings or thoughts.

Let's go back to your favorite type of book. Do you think these types of books would be interesting to or appropriate for children? While adults and children may enjoy the same type of books, often times, children respond better to books written especially for them.

The scope of this lesson could not possibly include each and every genre in children's literature. The ones we'll discuss next are the most common.

Contemporary & Traditional Fiction

Contemporary fiction refers to books that take place in the present day. Typically, they're not based on actual events. These types of books are very popular selections in children's literature because young readers can usually connect and identify with the characters. Readers also identify with the events of the story because they may be representative of things that are happening in their own lives.

By comparison, traditional literature includes fables, folklore, and religious readings commonly passed down from generation to generation within cultures or families. These types of works may not have a specific author and usually teach a lesson or moral principle, as opposed to dealing with relatable characters or events.

Historical Fiction

On the opposite end of the spectrum from contemporary fiction lies historical fiction. In these stories we find relatable characters of contemporary fiction, but the time period is of days gone by. Historical fiction can be helpful when teaching young readers about what life was like during specific periods throughout history. This is because they're often based on or inspired by noteworthy events.

Science Fiction

Spaceships, time travel, and countless other fascinating scientific possibilities can be found in science fiction. While not based on fact, science fiction books may include actual or imagined scientific principles. As in our previous examples, identifiable characters are central to science fiction works as young readers quickly engage with and attach to them. That's why this type of children's literature is among the most popular genres.

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