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Children's Literature

What is a "Genre"?

"Genre is a category used to classify literary works, usually by form, technique, or content." --The Literary Dictionary: Vocabulary of Reading and Writing, 1999

We classify materials by two main genres: fiction and non-fiction. We call non-fiction juvenile books "juvenile literature."

  • Fiction includes "imaginary" stories
  • Non-fiction materials (juvenile literature) are informational and factual. Within these broad categories, materials are further classified by subject. (see below)
  • Note: fairy tales, legends, myths, and poetry as considered "nonfiction"

Searchable Genres

Below are lists of genres that can be searched as subjects in the Library Catalog:


  • Adventure
  • Fantasy
  • Mystery and detective stories
  • Science fiction
  • Supernatural or horror

Non-fiction (we use the term "juvenile literature"):

  • Biography
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Art
  • Music
  • History
  • and more...
  • (Try other other subject areas for additional informational books)

Literature & Traditional Literature:

  • poetry
  • mythology
  • legends
  • fairy tales
  • fables

Other genres:

  • Newbery Award winners
  • Caldecott Award winners
  • Stories without words (use this phrase to find wordless books)

Some genres may not be included as searchable subjects in the Library Catalog. Here are a few examples.

  • Contemporary realistic fiction
  • Historical fiction
  • Multicultural

Searching for books by Genre

Click the Find Books tab at the top of this guide to learn more about how to navigate the curriculum libraries at the Philadelphia Campus Library and the Newtown LRC.

To locate books at either Holy Family location, use the "advanced search feature" in the Library Catalog.

* You can list keywords or search by subject

* Try entering a genre in the search box and choose "subject" from the pull-down menu on the left

* Be sure to limit to "juvenile" under "audience" 

* You can limit by library to locate items at Holy Family

Book Format

Did you know?...

In some circles, book format is considered a genre. Here are some formats teachers should be familiar with:‚Äč

Useful Websites

Breitlinks: Children's Genres
See this website by a school media specialist for an overview and definition of various genres.

Genre Study: A Collaborative Approach
This lesson plan from ReadWriteThink provides background information about genres. Check out the resources under "From Theory to Practice" and "Resources and Preparation."

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