Genre Study: A Collaborative Approach

"Genre Study: A Collaborative Approach" is an inquiry-based lesson that allows students to explore literary genres. This lesson plan provides step-by-step implementation instructions and excellent genre information resources including genre study book list, genre bookmark templates, and a genre characteristic handout. Lesson is appropriate for third through fifth grades. Students explore literary genres by completing a series of genre studies, each spanning two to three weeks. The concept of genres is introduced through class discussion, during which students determine the main characteristics of various genres. Students are then assigned a genre to explore, and they use printable bookmarks to record evidence that their book fits the assigned genre. Finally, students complete a book review and share summaries of the books they read with their classmates. Conducting studies of multiple genres can help students to achieve a better understanding of their characteristics. Text from site

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
GLE 0401.3.2
Write in a variety of modes and genres (e.g., narration, description, personal expression, imaginative writing, response to literature, response to subject...
GLE 0401.8.2
Experience various literary genres, including fiction/nonfiction, poetry, drama, short stories, folk tales, and myths.
GLE 0401.8.3
Know and understand the basic characteristics of the genres studied.
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
Learning objectives: 

Student Objectives:

Students will

  • identify literary elements of common genres.
  • experience and develop interest in literature, which includes multicultural, gender, and ethnic diversity. 
  • improve comprehension by interpreting, analyzing, synthesizing and evaluating written text in order to categorize text into literary genres.

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 


You are sure to be a hit when exploring comics as a genre. See the ReadWriteThink lesson Comics in the Classroom as an Introduction to Genre Study.


Helpful Hints


  • Collect books for the genre that students will explore. See the book list for suggestions. 
  • Make copies of the Book Review handout and (if desired) the Genre Characteristic Handout. 
  • Choose the appropriate Bookmark Template for the book that students will read, make copies, and cut out the bookmarks. Alternately, you can create your own bookmarks for the genre to be explored.
  • Familiarize yourself with background information on literary genre:
  • Definition from
  • Genre (noun) 1: a kind of literary or artistic work 2: a style of expressing yourself in writing [syn: writing style, literary genre] 3: a class of artistic endeavor having a characteristic form or technique. 
  • When teaching children, how do we define literary genres? We can say that we divide literary works into genres as a way of classifying them into particular categories. The two major categories, or genres, are Fiction (about things, events, and characters which are not true) or Nonfiction (about things, events, and people which are based on fact). From those two major categories, we can classify even further. For example, Fiction can be divided into poetry, drama (plays), or prose (ordinary writing). Those categories tell us something about the form of the work. 
  • Further, we also classify Fiction according to layout and style. There are picture books, which contain words and pictures, novellas or short novels, and short stories, which are much shorter than a novella. 
  • Finally, Fiction can be classified by content and theme. Here is where we find our common genres: adventure stories, science fiction/fantasy, mystery, horror, romance, realistic fiction, and historical fiction.
  • One thing to keep in mind while teaching about genres: these categories aren't always clear-cut. You can have a crime/mystery story set in the future (science fiction) or in the past (historical fiction).
  • For more detailed information about genres of children's literature, visit Children's Genres.
  • Explore character, setting, and plot development with students in class before beginning this project. If additional resources are needed to prepare for this lesson, see the following ReadWriteThink lesson plans:
  • Using Picture Books to Teach Characterization in Writing Workshop 
  • Using Picture Books to Teach Setting Development in Writing Workshop 
  • Comics in the Classroom as an Introduction to Narrative Structure


Materials and Technology:

  • Books from the different genres



  • Book Review handout 
  • Bookmark Templates:
  • Fantasy 
  • Historical Fiction 
  • Mystery 
  • Realistic Fiction 
  • Science Fiction 
  • Genre Characteristics handout



  • Genre Group Book Review Chart Student Interactive 
  • Children's Genres