Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Glance at Picture Book Genres ~By Suzy Leopold

When writing picture books for children, consider the definition of genre and the categories of each, that are used to classify picture books for children's literacy.

What is a genre?  The definition can be defined as:

gen・re [zhä′ rǝ] n.  
A book type, classification or category of literature that is defined by content, form and style.  
The following are the most common types of reading genres:
  • Poetry
Poetry often uses rhythm and rhyme to convey a message or story.  Sound, imagery and figurative language may be included.  Poetry is written in verse to inspire the reader to respond with feelings and thoughts.

  • Autobiography
A story based on true facts about the life of a real person written by that person.
  • Biography
A story based on true facts about the life of a real person written by another person.  Memories, letters, diaries and journals are all part of this genre.
  • Informational
Texts that are written based on facts about a variety of topics, such as animals, cooking, gardening, history, science, geography, space, weather, reference books, etc.

  • Fantasy
A story that is make-believe.  It includes elements that are impossible in real life, such as magical powers or talking animals.
  • Historical Fiction
A fictional story that brings past events alive. The setting is real, however, the characters are not real.
  • Realistic Fiction
A story that could happen in real life.  The made-up characters are not real.
  • Science Fiction
A fantasy type story that blends futuristic technology with scientific elements and facts that are not possible in real life such as time machines, space travel and robots.
  • Mystery
A story that is suspenseful and is solved at the end of the story.
  • Traditional Literature
Stories that are passed down from generation to generation.  This genre includes tall tales, folktales, fables, legends, fairy tales, nursery rhymes, myths and even songs.
These are ten broad categories of genres.  There are many lists of sub-genres that include more categories and detail.

Marcie Haloin, along with Gaylynn Jameson, JoAnne Piccolo, and Kari Oosterveen created a more indept list of genres.  This compiled list, Genre Characteristics, is based off of an informative, resource book, Writing Essentials, written by Regie Routman [Heinemann: Portmouth, NH, 2005].  
On a future post, check out examples of book titles for each of these ten picture book genre categories. 

Do you have a favorite genre that you prefer to read about and/or write about? Consider expanding your craft of writing by trying new genre categories.


  1. I really enjoyed this post, very informative. Thanks.

    1. Your comment is appreciated, Darlene. Thank you for stopping by our GROG Blog. Your blog, Smack Dab in the Middle (a middle grade authors' blog) is a fantastic blog spot filled with many book reviews & trailers, interviews, writing tips and more by 30 + authors. ~Suzy Leopold

  2. Thank you Garden Girl.
    I am a list person & also thrive on putting my writerly world in categories. This is a help.

  3. Hi Jan: Charts, graphs and lists; I like them all. Good to know this post was helpful to you, my writerly friend. Garden Girl AKA Suzy

  4. This post and other posts on your site are very informative and helpful. Glad I found you.

    1. Excellent, Janet! Always encouraging to know that our readers are finding helpful, informative posts on our GROG. And I am glad that you found us. ~Suzy