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Genres in Children's Literature (page 3)

By — Pearson Allyn Bacon Prentice Hall
Updated on Jul 20, 2010

Although genre lines at times may blur, these designations are used most often by adults to organize the field of children’s literature. These categories are less important to children, however. Young readers usually do not care if a book belongs to a certain genre. What they want is a good book, regardless of the classification. But adults can use the six genres to help understand the field of children’s literature more clearly, to draw on a framework for discussing books, and to provide a yardstick for determining what holes exist in their own particular reading backgrounds. If a teacher has never read modern fantasy or science fiction, for instance, that becomes immediately apparent when considering each of the genres. A self-check of our reading backgrounds can help us realize where we need more exposure, can provide direction to broaden our personal reading, and ultimately can help us serve students better. However used, the genres of children’s literature provide a road map for those interested in finding their way about.

Picture book and poetry are two formats also important in children’s literature. These two formats are so closely associated with categorizing books for children they have become pseudo-genres.  The picture book, still a mainstay of beginning reading and the primary-grade classroom, has extended its appeal to include older children and also to offer expanded information in nonfiction picture books.  Poetry, like prose, includes all the genres of literature. However, we choose to treat poetry as a separate genre because too few poems are available to study them under the same classifications we use for prose. If we were absolutely accurate, we would study “biographical prose” and also “biographical poetry,” “modern fantasy prose” as well as “modern fantasy poetry,” and so on. Because of the relatively small number of published poems, we look at poetry as a whole and at the various forms of poetry instead of concentrating on the content.

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