7 ways to introduce writing genres

7 Ways to Introduce Writing Genres

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gen · re (ZHON-ruh), n. a classification of literature or writing by subject or theme in which members of a genre share common characteristics.

It’s never too soon to introduce writing genres to children. Even as their writing skills are just beginning to bloom during their early school years, you can help them identify different types of literature through the books they’re reading.

I’ve always been a reader. Even as a child, I remember enjoying books from many different genres. I adored nursery rhymes, fairy tales, and poems. Among my earliest memories are books about nature and science and stories of children from around the world.

In third grade, I must have checked out every children’s biography in our school library. And in fourth grade, you could be sure to find my friend Adele and me—at one house or the other—propped up on pillows with our noses buried deep in a Nancy Drew mystery.

Your Child Knows Genres

There are two main types of genre: Literary genre is meant to entertain and nonliterary genre is meant to inform. Your child might not yet recognize the word itself, but she’s more than likely already familiar with many genres, including:

  • Nursery Rhymes
  • Poetry
  • Personal narrative
  • Historical fiction
  • Adventure
  • Mystery
  • Classics
  • Humor
  • Fairy tale
  • Folktale
  • Biography
  • Nonfiction
  • Informational
  • Science Fiction
  • Fantasy

There is often overlap between genres. A biography, for example, is also nonfiction and informational. And depending on the subject, it can even blur into adventure or humor.

Help your children recognize and explore various genres and practice related writing skills. As they discover each genre’s unique qualities, students can better appreciate and understand what they read—and apply that knowledge to their writing.

7 Ways to Introduce Writing Genres

  1. Brainstorm books or stories that fit a genre.
  2. Visit the library and discover how books are categorized.
  3. Study a particular genre each month. Read books, discuss their common characteristics, and assign one or two related writing projects.
  4. Send your child on a scavenger hunt through your home or library bookshelves and have her make lists. She can record the different genres she finds, or she can write down book titles within a certain genre, such as historical fiction or mysteries.
  5. Play “genre bingo.” Give your child a blank bingo grid and have her fill in the squares with different genres. As she reads different books that fit each genre, she can put a sticker on that square. When she gets five in a row, give her a small prize. And when she gets blackout, buy her a new book in her favorite genre!
  6. Challenge your child to read different genres from your library. You might put a limit of 3 books per genre to encourage her to read outside of her comfort zone.
  7. Include some math fun! As you introduce writing genres of various kinds, make a bar graph to mark and measure the number of books your family reads in each genre.

Copyright 2011 © Kim Kautzer. All rights reserved.

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  • Posted January 31, 2011

    Sarah Allen

    This is pretty cool! I like this idea of starting it early, training kids to know what they’re looking at. Great ideas!

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  • Posted January 31, 2011


    Thanks, Sarah! Your comment made me realize that I haven’t visited your great blog in a long time, so off I went to check your latest posts and leave you some love! 🙂

  • Posted January 31, 2011


    By the way, the photo at the top is of children’s books from my bookshelf, most of which are good friends of mine!

  • Posted February 1, 2011


    Something fun to do, especially if you’re reading fairy tales with your children, is to put on that “Nancy Drew” visage, and be detectives looking for the clues to the “rule of three” literary device, a very common plot device used in most traditional fairy tales. Almost all the old favorites employ three twists-of-the-plot: three magic beans, three wishes granted, three mysterious evenings, three robbers, etc. Kids find it interesting to “sleuth” through a tale and graph those “rules of three” across a collection of fairy tales.

  • Posted February 1, 2011


    You’re way ahead of me, Janet! Great minds think alike.

    I’ll be sharing about individual genres’ characteristics in future blogs, such as the “rule of three” and “rule of seven” in fairy tales. I love your practical application of sleuthing and graphing.

  • Posted February 1, 2011


    Spot on, Kim! I forgot about the “rule of seven”! 🙂

  • Posted March 31, 2016


    how to make description?

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