Genre Lesson

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Slide 2: 

Have you ever walked into the library and noticed that it is divided into sections? Why do you think the librarian does that? Books can be divided up even further, and it will help you decide which book to read if you understand what kinds of books are available! Genre is a French word, meaning “kind.” Books are classified into different genres, based on their characteristics. (Click on the speaker to hear “genre” pronounced!)

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Novels in this genre are set in an historical period. Historical Fiction This novel is set in the Civil War. When Homer’s uncle sells Homer’s older brother to serve in his place in the Civil War, Homer sets off to alert the authorities that his brother is too young to be a soldier. Homer likes to exaggerate, making his stories along the way very entertaining, but the book also deals with the evils of slavery and the horror of war through the description of the Battle of Gettysburg. The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick Hey! Did you notice that Homer likes to exaggerate, and also goes on an adventure to find his brother? We could classify this book into “Tall tales” AND another genre! See if you can figure out which one! An example:

Mystery : 

Mystery A mystery involves the reader in solving a puzzle or a crime. The main character may be a detective, or even a curious kid! These books are usually suspenseful, which means the author leaves you with questions about what’s really going on– which makes you read more! London Eye Mysteryby Siobhan Dowd An example: When Salim visits his cousins Ted and Kat, they take him to see the London Eye, a very large Ferris wheel from which riders can see 25 miles in every direction. When a stranger offers one free ticket, Salim, as the guest, gets to ride– but then he doesn’t exit. Ted, whose brain is “wired differently,” and Kat must put together the clues to figure out what happened to Salim.

Science fiction : 

Science fiction Science fiction is based on the impact of actual, imagined, or potential science. It is usually set in the future or on other planets. The City of Ember By Jeanne DePrau It is the year 241, and the City of Ember is in trouble. The city is decaying: supplies are dwindling, and everything is in need of repair, including the power lines that supply the only light the city has. Twelve year old Lina and her classmate Doon receive their jobs, and both begin to learn new information and uncover mysterious circumstances. When Lina finds a fragmented piece of paper in her grandmother’s old box, they think they may have found a way out– but they don’t know what they will find when they reach the post-apocalyptic Earth, even if they do make it. An example:

Realistic Fiction : 

Realistic Fiction Do you like stories about people you might meet, overcoming problems they might really face? Realistic fiction is what you’re looking for. These stories take place in modern times, and the characters are involved in events that really could happen. An example: The Truth about My Bat Mitzvah by Nora Raleigh Baskin When Caroline’s maternal grandmother dies and leaves her a Star of David necklace, Caroline begins to wonder about her religious identity. And, if she chooses to become more religious, what will her mother, a non-religious, science-loving doctor, think?

Fantasy : 

Fantasy A work of fantasy includes highly imaginative elements. Fantasies may include talking animals, magical powers, mythical creatures, and the setting may or may not be in the “real” world. An example: The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo and Bagram Ibatoulline Edward Tulane, a cold-hearted and proud china rabbit, loves only himself until he is separated from the little girl who adores him and travels across the country.

Action/Adventure : 

Action/Adventure Does the main character scale large mountains, go on amazing adventures on land or at sea, overcome amazing obstacles, travel to never-before-seen places? If so, you’ve found an action/adventure novel! PEAK By Roland Smith After Peak Marcello is arrested for scaling Manhattan’s Woolworth building, his estranged father arrives to rescue him from a stint in juvie. Peak’s father runs a commercial guide business on the Tibetan side of Mount Everest and wants Peak, at 14, to be the youngest person ever to make it to the top of Mount Everest. Along the way, Peak encounters hostile Chinese authorities, avalanches, howling winds, and frozen corpses– and another teen who has the same goal. An example: The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg, historical fiction, also contains elements of adventure!

Non-Fiction : 

Non-Fiction NON FICTION is a very broad genre, just like “Fiction” is very broad. Non fiction can also be broken into sub-genre categories. Let’s look at a few!

Informational : 

Informational An informational book tells factual information about people, events, or places. All About Sleep from A to Zzzz by Elaine Scott An example: In this book, you will learn all about sleep, including circadian rhythms, dreams, and the functions and stages of sleep.

Reference : 

Reference Reference books are, of course, non fiction. You go to them when you want to know facts, but don’t want to do a whole lot of reading.

Biographies : 

Biographies A biography is a true story about a person’s life (the prefix “bio” means “life”– biology is the study of life. You get it. . . ) An autobiography (“auto” means “self”) is a book written by someone about him/herself. An example: Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Almost True Stories of Growing Up Sciezka by Jon Scieszka Even though Mr. Sciezka tends to stretch the truth at times, this funny book tells about his adventures growing up in Flint, Michigan with his five brothers. (Technically, since Mr. Sciezka wrote it, this is an AUTObiography!)

Slide 13: 

Graphic Novels (Weird, huh?! Why would I put graphic novels in “NON FICTION?” Aren’t these FICTION?! Because these books contain ART, they are usually shelved in nonfiction, in 741.5– even though the story is usually fictional. This can get confusing, though. The public library puts the FICTION graphic novels in a section all by themselves, near the fiction. The NON-FICTION graphic novels are shelved with the subject they cover. If you’re having trouble finding these books, just ask the librarian!

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Graphic Novels, continued… Examples: To learn more about Amulet from the author, Kazu Kibuishi, click on the cover! The sequel will be released in September 2009!

Slide 15: 

O.K., you’ve read about several different genres; let’s see how much you’ve learned! Read each book summary carefully. Click on the genre to which you think each book belongs. Use the arrow buttons to navigate to the next page. If you have some trouble, that’s o.k.; sometimes books can belong to more than one category!

Slide 16: 

To which genre does Earthquake Terror belong? When an earthquake hits the isolated island in northern California where his family had been camping, twelve-year-old Jonathan Palmer must find a way to keep himself, his partially paralyzed younger sister, and their dog alive until help arrives. Science fiction Action/Adventure Mystery 1

Slide 17: 

Yes! Good job! Earthquake Terror involves extreme circumstances and the courage of the characters to overcome, making it an ACTION/ADVENTURE novel.

Slide 18: 

Oops! Try again!

Slide 19: 

Gregor is a young man who discovers an entire culture living beneath the city of New York. The Underlanders have a prophecy in which Gregor is a warrior who is supposed to save their world by going on a quest. The Underlanders’ world includes huge mice, spiders, bats, lizards, and cockroaches (who are indeed even larger than we see here in Texas!). Fantasy Graphic novel Historical Fiction To which genre does this book belong? 2

Slide 20: 

Great job! This book contains all the elements of FANTASY: talking animals, imaginary places, and impossible events. It’s a fast-paced, interesting story (you may actually learn to like the cockroaches!)– and it’s a series, so there’s lots of potential reading!

Slide 21: 

Oops! Try again!

Slide 22: 

3 In The Homework Machine, computer genius and class nerd Brenton builds a machine that can actually do your homework for you! The three other kids in his work group beg him to let them use it, and the four become good friends as they enjoy more free time and better grades! However, they soon find themselves in serious trouble. . . . Which genre best fits this novel? Fantasy Science fiction Historical fiction

Slide 23: 

Oops! Try again!

Slide 24: 

Way to go! This book is based on the “science” of being able to create a machine that can do your homework for you. Without that bit of science fiction, the story wouldn’t be able to take place.

Slide 25: 

While searching the attic for hidden birthday presents, Sam makes a startling discovery. He finds a newspaper clipping that states he went missing at the age of three. Sam isn’t able to read the entire article because of a learning disability, so he enlists the help of fellow classmate, Caroline. Caroline and Sam work together to solve the mystery of the newspaper clipping and unravel the secrets of Sam’s past. Which genre do you think this is? Realistic fiction Science fiction Mystery 4

Slide 26: 

Absolutely! Eleven is a mystery: Sam and his friend Caroline are faced with a puzzle, which they work together to solve. The book is very suspenseful– Ms. Giff leaves you with unanswered questions, which make the book hard to put down!

Slide 27: 

Oops! Try again!

Slide 28: 

In this colorful adaptation of the movie, Chihiro is traveling with her parents to their new home. They take a wrong turn off the highway and stop at an abandoned theme park. Her parents smell food cooking, and hurry ahead to find the source. When Chihiro catches up to them, they have turned into pigs. She realizes that they are trapped in a magical place full of ghosts and spirits. Haku, a boy, finds her and takes her to the magical bathhouse where she begins her quest to free her parents. Is this book an example of: Graphic novel Science fiction Action/Adventure ? 5

Slide 29: 

Great job! Miyazaki’s book is a graphic novel, the story told through a series of detailed pictures, like a comic book but with a bit more complicated plot This book is also a really interesting movie. It’s VERY different from what American audiences usually see!

Slide 30: 

Oops! Try again!

Slide 31: 

Artemis Fowl is not just a millionaire AND a genius– he’s also a criminal mastermind! Determined to restore his family’s name to its former glory, he sets off with his bodyguard Butler to capture a fairy and ransom her for the legendary fairy gold. Unfortunately for him, Holly turns out to be a member of the “LEPredcon,” an elite member of the magical police, so a team of dangerous fairies, satyrs, trolls and elves fight back with all kinds of magic and clever gadgets to rescue her! Do you think this book is: Fantasy Science fiction Action/Adventure 6

Slide 32: 

Yes! If you chose “fantasy” you were right! Fairies, elves, and trolls probably don’t exist (at least, most of us have never seen one. . . ), so these imaginary creatures in an alternate world would certainly classify this as fantasy. HOWEVER. . . . . . . (This was a “trick” question– no matter which one you choose, you end up here– because any of the three is fairly “right!”)

Slide 33: 

Yes! If you chose science fiction, were also right! The gadgets used to try to rescue Holly also land this action-packed story in the category of Science Fiction! But WAIT!

Slide 34: 

Yes! If you chose Action/Adventure, you were ALSO right! The book is filled with action and adventure as Artemis and the fairies struggle. Yes, technically this book is MOSTLY a fantasy– but you see how it can be really difficult to classify a book into just ONE genre!

Slide 35: 

When Nick’s biology teacher mysteriously vanishes during a field trip to the Florida Everglades, Nick suspects that something sinister is going on especially since some adults want to hush it up. Local businessmen may be involved in both the disappearance and in some activities that are harming the ecology of the Everglades. This book is probably a Science fiction story Realistic story Mystery 7

Slide 36: 

Very good! Although Scat contains events that could happen, the story centers around the mystery of the missing biology teacher.

Slide 37: 

Oops! Try again! If you chose “realistic,” you’re partially right; however, there’s a better answer. . . . . .see if you can get it this time!

Slide 38: 

Oops! Try again!

Slide 39: 

Twelve-year-old Mitch spends the summer at his grandparents’ house. While dealing with his parents’ impending divorce, he meets Spencer, whose family is dealing with the loss of their oldest son. The two boys become friends and find they have much in common. This book is mostly like an example of: Science fiction Informational non-fiction Realistic fiction 8

Slide 40: 

Good for you! This book is about friendships, and keeping secrets, and learning to be courageous in the face of loss. Truly about things that are real.

Slide 41: 

Oops! Try again!

Slide 42: 

For thousands of years, different cultures from around the world have been mummifying bodies. Some of these bodies have been those of children carefully preserved by their loved ones. The author presents some of the important finds made by investigators and looks at the cultural connections and scientific facts surrounding mummies. I would stack this book with the: Informational non-fiction Science fiction Reference books 9

Slide 43: 

Excellent! This book also contains colorful photographs and illustrations, in addition to readable text.

Slide 44: 

Oops! Try again!

Slide 45: 

Marooned on a South Pacific island, Alexander Selkirk survived in complete solitude for more than four years. After his rescue in 1709 he became the real-life model for Daniel Defoe’s novel Robinson Crusoe. This book is Biography Informational A graphic novel 10.

Slide 46: 

Way to go! This book is indeed a biography!

Slide 47: 

Oops! Try again!

Slide 48: 

The title of this lesson said that it would be “brief.” It sure didn’t seem “brief,” did it?! Actually there are quite a few more genres that we didn’t even cover! Fairy tales Tall Tales Folklore Sports stories Poetry Novels in verse Humor Short stories Essay Speeches Ghost stories

Did you know? : 

Did you know? Many of the books in this presentation are available on some really great reading lists. These lists offer other good places to look for a really good book! Texas Lone Star Reading List Bluebonnet Book List Katy ISD 6th Grade Summer Reading List

Your turn! : 

Your turn! Now that you know a little about genre, go find a book that interests you. Be sure you can tell the librarian or your teacher which genre you selected! Happy reading!

Acknowledgments : 

Acknowledgments Book photograph by Chocolate Geek (Vipul Mather) titled “for the love of books” on December 14, 2006. Retrieved from Used under Creative Commons license. Book covers used under Fair Use, Section 107, US Copyright Law; each image belongs to the publisher of the corresponding book. “Genre” pronunciation from Merriam-Webster Online. Retrieved 1 May 2009 from All other sounds and images from Microsoft Office. Special thanks to Katie Haveman for “test driving” this production! Contact: Jennifer Haveman

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