Teaching Genre in the Library

Who else loves to teach genre to your students? Teaching different types of genres help students become lifelong readers. This is also true when thinking about writing. It opens their minds to the outside of their world and not just a traditional narrative. 

The Importance of Genre

We want our students to fall in love with different types of books and not just all the Fly Guy or Mo Willems books. Our younger readers tend to fall into this trap where they only want to read specific types of books or even only one type of author. Then, as students get older they don’t know what they like because their interests have changed. Reluctant readers also tend to be at a disadvantage because they don’t know what they like and truly don’t love to read. 

This is why teaching genre throughout the elementary years is so important. Librarians have the advantage of being able to introduce our students to the numerous genres that exist.  It also helps to identify what your students are interested in, which will help when it comes time to order new books. 

We want to give students the knowledge and understanding of different types of genres. Be sure to point out to your students that nonfiction is a genre too! Find those great nonfiction books and read them to the class. I think it is safe to say they will love it and will want to know, “Where can I find more books like this?” We don’t want them to think of nonfiction as being incredibly boring because it truly isn’t. 

How to Teach Genre 

Here is a simple timeline of introducing and teaching genre to your students.

`1. Start with introducing students to the different genres out there. Here I have created a Genre PowerPoint Introduction.  The PowerPoint serves as a visual aid to students and breaks down the different genres that exist. Now, they know the different types.

2. Next, you want to apply what they have learned. You can try any of these activities:  Reading Genres Task Cards, Reading Genres Print Breakout, or Reading Genres Digital Breakout. Students love these and it tests their knowledge in a fun way.

3. Applying genres needs to be purposeful throughout their library experience. You want them to become familiar with the different types. These are some simple ways: Ask students when they are checking out books, “What genre is this?”  When you are finished reading a book ask them, “What do you think this genre is?” It also helps them to explain why. They have to recall the information that they have learned from the story and process it.  They will also need to think about what you have previously taught them as well. This is also where you can explain how some books fit into more than one category. 

4. Another way to help your students make the connections between genres is through Genre Puzzles. This problem-solving activity helps students learn and remember the types of genres.

5. A fun idea would be to keep a posted checklist for each grade level on the different genres you have read in the library. Students can see all that they have explored throughout the year.  It would also help to include their classroom teachers. If your school is a place that uses reading logs, why not try a genre reading log?

6. Finally, if you haven’t tried a Book Tasting then you are missing out! Book Tastings are essentially speed dating for books. Students absolutely love them! You can read about it more on my blog post here. Here are two example activities: Book Tasting Activity and Virtual Book Tasting Activity

I hope that you consider teaching genres to your students this year. Students will not only really enjoy it,  but will also gain an understanding of books as well. If you try any of these things don’t forget to share it on our Facebook group page, Staying Cool in the Library Educator Community. We love hearing from fellow teachers, librarians, and teacher librarians! 

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