How to Teach Literary Genres: Techniques & Activities

Instructor: Derek Hughes
To help your students become lifelong readers, you are going to have to teach them about different genres of literature. This lesson will provide some strategies, techniques and activities for teaching literary genres to your students.

What are Literary Genres?

What kind of books do you like reading? Do you like stories about someone trying to solve a mystery? Or perhaps something scary that gets under your skin? Maybe you like to read about true events in an attempt to learn something new about the lives of others. Regardless of what you like, everyone probably has a few favorite genres of books. A literary genre is essentially a category of books that share common elements and themes.

As an adult, you are probably familiar with the many genres of books out there. You have your favorites, and you know the ones you really don't like. However, your students don't have this knowledge. It is up to you to teach them about different literary genres, so they can become lifelong readers and find their favorites, just as you have. There are several useful techniques, strategies, and activities you can use to teach literary genres that will be covered throughout this lesson.


Imagine being in an elementary school classroom where, every day, your teacher read aloud to your class for 10 minutes. This is probably something you do as a teacher now or have experienced as a child. Now imagine that your teacher only ever read biographies to your class. As soon as she finished one, she picked up another and started reading.

To some of you, this may sound great! That's probably because you like biographies. To others, this may sound awful! Either way, this is not a good teaching practice because it only exposes your students to one literary genre. One of the most important things you can do to teach your students about literary genres is to expose them to as many as possible.

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