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Children's Literature • Genres: Children's Literature

An overview of children's literature genres and resources for locating them in the library's juvenile collection.

Children's Literature Genres

children's book This library guide is a starting place for resources and information about children's literature genres. Use the tabs at the top of the page to explore featured genres including biography, fantasy, folklore & folk tales, historical fiction, realistic fiction, and non-fiction.

Each genre identified includes a general overview and selection of titles in the juvenile collection.  Genre resources available in the library and Instructional Resource Center collections are also presented.

Looking @ Genres in Children's Literature

Children's Literature Definitions

Children's Literature is often defined as material written or produced for the information or entertainment of children or young adults. It includes all literary, artistic genres and physical formats. - Children's Literature, Library of Congress.

"A basic definition might state that it (children's literature) is books written for this particular audience; we might also add that it includes books that children and young adults enjoy and have made their own." -- Cullinan & Galda's Children's Literature and the Child (p.8).

Children's Literature Genres

This chart, adapted from Cullinan and Galda's Literature and the Child, provides brief descriptions of children and young adult literature genre's (Cullinan & Galda, 2002, p. 8). When searching for children's books in the library catalog, you may notice categories identified as subject genre/form.


 Category Genres in children's and young adult literature
Picture Books Interdependence of art and text. Story of Concept presented through combination of text and illustration. Classification based on format, not genre. All genres appear in picture books.
Poetry & Verse Condensed language, imagery.  Distilled, rhythmic expression of imaginative thoughts and perceptions.
Folklore Literary heritage of humankind. Traditional stories, myths, legends, nursery rhymes, and songs from the past. Oral tradition; no known author.
Fantasy Imaginative worlds, make-believe. Stories set in places that do not exist, about people and creatures that could not exist, or events that could not happen.
Science Fiction Based on extending physical laws and scientific principles to their logical outcomes. Stories about what might occur in the future.
Realistic Fiction "What if" stories, illusion of reality. Events could happen in real world, characters seem real; contemporary setting.
Historical Fiction Set in the past, could have happened. Story reconstructs events of past age, things that could have or did occur.
Biography Plot and theme based on person's life. An account of a person's life, or part of a life history; letters, memoirs, diaries, journals, autobiographies.


Facts about the real world. Informational books that explain a subject or concept.



Cullinan, B.E. and Galda, L. (2002). Cullinan and Galda’s literature and the child (p. 8). Belmont, CA:   Wadsworth/Thomson Learning.

Library of Congress. (2014, July 10). Frequently asked questions: Children's and young adults' cataloging program (CYAC). Retrieved from



Diane Schrecker

Diane Schrecker, MLIS, M.Ed.

Curriculum & Instruction Librarian
Head of the IRC
☏ 419.207.6406

Instructional Resource Center
Archer Library at Ashland University
509 College Avenue
Ashland, OH 44805

☏ 419.289.5406

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Archer Library's Juvenile Collection

Juvenile Stacks

Children's books, the library's juvenile collection, are located on the second floor, directly outside of the Instructional Resource Center. In this collection, you will find fiction and non-fiction, picture books and novels, big books, award winning books, and even a few oversized books. Our collection is cataloged and shelved using Library of Congress call numbers.

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