Literary Genres

There are so many incredible books for students to read! However, they will not just know this. If they’ve listened to a story they do not like, they may feel books are boring. However, if they read a book they love, they will hopefully feel books are exciting! This is why students must learn what are literary genres and explore the different types. By doing this, students can discover their favorite books and see the power of reading! 

What are literary genres

What are Literary Genres?

Literary genres are categories within literature. Additionally, the books in each category often follow a similar subject matter, topic, style, or form. This is a great way to help readers find a genre they love to read and quickly find similar books! 

Types of Literary Genres

Since every reader has different interests, there are tons of books to pick from! There are two main genres: fiction and nonfiction. Then, there are multiple subgenres under these. 

To help keep these straight, there are Literary Genre Anchor Charts! Using anchor charts is a fantastic way for students to always have something to refer to. Also, hanging anchor charts throughout the year allows students to reinforce or review important material! 

what are literary genres anchor chart

Fiction Genre

Ultimately, these books are not true. However, they follow the plot diagram with characters, a setting, and a beginning, middle, and end. They are enjoyable to read and can help teach essential life skills. 

Fantasy: This is an imaginative story with made-up elements. Many times, this includes fantasy elements, such as wizards. 

Science Fiction: Stories in this category include science and technology. They may also occur in other dimensions or times. 

Historical Fiction: Honestly, this is a great literary genre to teach students about the past. Specifically, it incorporates historical events with fictional components. 

Folktales: When focusing on teaching a moral or lesson, these are the books to use! They are a story passed down from generation to generation and include a powerful message. 

Fairy Tales: Often, students are familiar with fairy tales from being read them as toddlers. They include magical and imaginary lands and characters, such as fairies. 

Tall Tales: Many times, these stories bring about a good laugh! They are exaggerated stories with larger-than-life characters. 

Realistic Fiction: While this story could be possible, it is not based on true events. This is a great way to teach students about diversity, perseverance, and essential life skills!

Fables: Honestly, students love fables when learning about literary genres! Often, they include animals as the main characters. These are also great books to use when teaching a moral or lesson.

Poetry: Poems can be challenging for students to understand. Many times, the unfamiliar format of lines and stanzas is what students need help with the most. However, they have an impactful message by provoking emotions. 


Ultimately, students read non-fiction to learn about something. These books often include photos, charts, graphs, and labels. Students learn lots of facts and knowledge on the topic when reading nonfiction literature. 

Biography: This is the story of someone’s life. However, the person who wrote the book is not who the story is about. 

Autobiography: This is the story of someone’s life told by that person. 

Expository Non-Fiction: Essentially, this is a structured text with headings and subheadings. There also may be a table of contents and glossary. 

Narrative Nonfiction: Students read factual information within a story. So, there are characters, a setting, and a plot. 

Literary Genre Identification 

It is important for students to know how to identify each genre. When they can do this, they can understand the differences in the story while reading. For instance, they will know if the story is real or made up. Additionally, knowing what are literary genres allows students to find out what they like to read best. Thankfully, there are great activities to help students learn the different genres! 

Literary Genre Anchor Charts: Honestly, it is so important to use anchor charts! They allow students to read and review important information. So, each of these charts points out the different literary genres and helps students remember the differences. There are even versions to hang on the classroom wall or in the ELAR journal! 

Genre of Literature Task Cards: Students need time to practice identifying different types of literary genres. So, there are 36 task cards with three different question types. These allow students to remember key elements in each genre. 

what are literary genre task cards

Book Exploration: For students to understand what are literary genres, they need time to explore and listen. So, teachers can work on different book studies where students focus on specific literary genres. They can read or listen to the story and identify key details. This is an excellent way for students to personally identify the differences. 

Ultimately, knowing what are literary genres allows students to discover the world through books. Whether this involves imaginary lands and characters or facts, literary genres help students become readers. Once students find there are books for just about every topic and interest, they will love listening to books and building their skills!

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I am Kirsten Tulsian, an elementary educator with 18 years of experience as a teacher and counselor. My passion lies in empowering students to discover their inherent brilliance through the use of engaging, rigorous, and meaningful activities. I look forward to connecting with you!

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