Guide to Children’s Book Genres

When you think of children’s literature, you might imagine brightly colored picture books and traditional fairytales, but picture books and fairy tales make up just a portion of children’s book genres. There are a wide variety of children’s genres to choose from to help your little one develop a love of reading.

Read on to learn more about the rich and wonderful world of kids books, and keep an eye out for great book recommendations along the way! With a little luck, you’ll find the perfect story for your young reader.


Biographies and autobiographies aren’t just for adults! These nonfiction books detail the course of a person’s life, which can be highly inspiring to kids who are trying to pursue a goal in their own lives. For example, if your daughter loves space and astronomy, a biography of Sally Ride might become their new favorite book.

Contemporary Fiction

Contemporary fiction stories are realistic, modern-day tales that feature relatable characters that your kids can identify with. The settings of contemporary fiction stories typically take place in areas familiar to children, such as elementary school or their grandparent’s house. This genre is incredibly broad and may include features of other genres, such as humorous elements or mysteries the main characters have to solve. One of the most popular contemporary fiction series for children is the Diary of a Wimpy Kid saga.


Fairytales can include legends, myths, nursery rhymes, and stories passed down through oral tradition. Fairytales and folklore tend to have supernatural elements, fantasy creatures, or other supernatural occurrences that will encourage your child’s creativity and imagination. If your child loves Disney movies and characters, they’re sure to love fairytales! Pick up a collection of traditional fairytales to delight and dazzle your kids with stories of magic, mythical beasts, and legendary adventures.


The fantasy genre involves ideas, characters, and settings that couldn’t actually happen in the real world. In fantasy novels, characters may have magical capabilities, live in another universe or in a secret realm within our world, or find out they’re supernatural entities. J.K. Rowling’s famous Harry Potter series is a classic introduction to the fantasy genre for children, and the books progress in complexity as your child grows older.

Historical Fiction

The genre of historical fiction can be a great option for children who are fascinated by certain events of the past or kids who tend to think that history is boring. Historical fiction combines real-life events with made-up characters that children will be able to relate with. The Little House on the Prairie series is an excellent example of historical fiction; although the family depicted in the book is fictional, their experiences realistically portray what American pioneers endured as they fought to survive on their own.


Children’s horror novels can range from lighthearted books about funny monsters to creepier stories like the popular Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine. These kinds of books are designed to increase suspense and create some tension, but not to the point that it makes it difficult for your child to fall asleep at night. Scary stories can even help your children face their own fears, especially if the main character in the book overcomes a frightening situation.


Are your little ones interested in dinosaurs, outer space, ancient civilizations, or epic military battles? There are tons of nonfiction informational books out there that are written specifically with curious children in mind! You can help your child develop a passion for new subjects while teaching them important facts about history, science, math, and much more. National Geographic has published a whole collection of informational books about animals for kids between the ages of 4 and 8.


Mystery books present readers with a crime or “case” that must be solved by the main character. Children will need to pay close attention to the details of the story and practice their critical thinking skills to think of potential solutions to the case. Plus, what kid doesn’t enjoy playing detective?! For little amateur sleuths, the Nancy Drew series is an excellent place to start.


Poetry creatively describes situations, thoughts, or emotions often using rhythmic language. Although poetry may not immediately sound appealing to most children, consider that most nursery rhymes are poems. Furthermore, the books penned by the famous Dr. Seuss have been enjoyed by millions of readers for decades and they’re written in poetic verses. Introduce your child to the world of poetry with a story like Horton Hears a Who!

Science Fiction

Science fiction novels tend to explore life in the future and pose questions about advanced technology or facing biological or ecological dilemmas. Children’s science fiction may include outer space travel, alien species, or futuristic robots to encourage their interest in the sciences. For example, try K.A. Applegate’s thrilling Animorphs series, in which ordinary children gain the ability to transform into different animals after encountering a crashed alien spacecraft.