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Children's & Young Adult Literature: Genres

Guide for library and Internet research resources about children's and young adult literature.

Genres in Children's & Young Adult Literature

A genre is a category of literature which is defined by the pattern or structure of a literary work. Each genre contains universal elements of form and content.  Generally there are two main sub-categories: fiction and non-fiction.

According to Galda, Cullinan & Swipe in their 2010 book, Literature and the Child the following constitute the genres in children's and young adult literature:

Genres in Children's and Young Adult Literature

Category: Brief Description:
Picture books 

Are considered a format and not a genre. They are a format in which art and text are interdependent.  All genres appear in picture books. 

Poetry and Verse Condensed language, expression of imaginative thoughts and perceptions, often containing rhythm and other devices of sound, imagery, and figurative language.
Folklore Traditional stories, myths, legends, nursery rhymes, and songs from the past.  Oral tradition with no known author, passed on from generation to generation.
Fantasy Stories set in places that do not exist, about people and creatures that could not exist or events that could not happen.  Make-believe and imaginative worlds.

Science Fiction

Based on extending physical laws and scientific principles to their logical outcomes, usually futuristic.  Describes worlds that are plausible and could exist someday.
Contemporary Realistic Fiction Stories could happen in the real world; characters seem real; contemporary setting.
Historical Fiction Stories reconstruct life in the past, using realistic actual and fictional characters, events and historical setting.
Biography An account of a person's life, or part of a life history by someone else or the person him or herself.  Includes, autobiographies, memoirs, letters, diaries, journals.
Nonfiction Informational books that explain a subject or concept using facts about the real world.

Search the Library Catalog By Genre

To search for children's or young adult books by genre do a keyword search using the name of the genre and either 'children's or 'young adult'.

For example to locate a children's or young adult science fiction books do one of these keyword searches:

science fiction childrens

science fiction young adult


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