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Literary Genre

The study of genre is not an exact science. Some texts may belong in more than one genre. For example: Romeo and Juliet is a drama, a tragedy, and an Elizabethan play. The idea of genre is open to discussion and there is good reason to discuss genre. Understanding genre will help you know what to expect from a text based on its genre; it will also help you notice when an author is playing with your expectations. Wouldn't you like to be in on the joke? First, you must learn some basics:

Main Genres and Subgenres

Some consider these to be the main genres of writing: fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, and folklore. Every piece of writing can fall into one of these categories. Each main genre has a group of subgenres. Each subgenre has as set of characteristics that you must learn in order to identify them. This list does not contain all of the possible subgenres, but it should give you a pretty thorough overview.

  1. Fiction: stories that come from the author's imagination.
    • Historical Fiction: based on a person or event from history.
    • Science Fiction: dealing with aliens, the distant future, or advanced technology.
    • Fantasy: containing monsters, magic, or other supernatural elements.
    • Realistic Fiction: a story that could have happened, but didn't.
  2. Nonfiction: writing that is true or factual.
    • Informational Writing: provides information on a topic.
    • Persuasive Writing: attempts to influence the reader.
    • Autobiography: the story of one's life told by oneself.
    • Biography: the story of one's life told by another.
  3. Drama: writing that is meant to be acted on a stage (a play).
    • Comedy: has a happy ending.
    • Tragedy: ends in death and sadness.
  4. Poetry: writing that is concerned with the beauty of language
  5. Folklore: stories handed down through speech from generation to generation.
    • Fairy Tale: a story with magic, monsters, and/or talking animals (like fiction / fantasy, but part of the oral tradition).
    • Fable: a very short story that has a moral or life lesson; usually has talking animals as main characters.
    • Myth: has gods or goddesses and often accounts for how something came to be.
    • Legend: an exaggerated story about something that may have been real at one time.
    • Tall Tale: stories set in the Wild West; the main character's strengths, skills, or size have been exaggerated and the tone is funny.

Genre Worksheets

Genre Worksheet 1
Here is a fun worksheet to help students review genre. Read the descriptions of the texts. Look for details in each passage that reveal the genre. Write the genre and subgenre on the lines. Students also explain their answers. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 6-10.
This is a preview image of Genre Worksheet 1. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Genre Worksheet 2
Here is another fun worksheet to give students practice with literary genre. This one has 4 pages and 17 problems. Students read descriptions of texts. Then choose the genre and subgenre in which the story belongs. Then they explain how they got their answer. Suggested reading level: Grade 5-9
This is a preview image of Genre Worksheet 2. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Genre Worksheet 3
Here is another great worksheet to help students master literary genre. This one is double-sided and has 8 problems. Students read descriptions of texts written for a variety of purposes. Then they determine the genre and subgenre based on the provided details and explain their answers. Suggested reading level: Grade 5-9
This is a preview image of Genre Worksheet 3. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Genre Worksheet 4
Here's another great worksheet to give practice with genre. This one features nine practice problems. Students identify the genre and subgenres of a variety of texts based on clues in the description. Then they explain their answers, which helps hone critical thinking and composition skills. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 4-8.
This is a preview image of Genre Worksheet 4. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Genre Worksheet 5
Here is yet another genre worksheet. This one features nine more problems giving your students practice identifying literary genres. Students identify the genres based on details and then explain their answers. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 4-8.
This is a preview image of Genre Worksheet 5. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.

Genre Activities

Genre Lesson 1
Looking for a PowerPoint slide show to help your students understand genre? This genre lesson will help you teach your students about fiction, nonfiction, drama, folklore, and their various subgenres. This lesson includes a review activity at the end.
This is a preview image of Genre Lesson 1. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Genre Crossword Puzzle Creator Project
Here is a fun, student-centered project on literary genre and subgenre. Students will create a genre crossword puzzle. In doing so, they will review the definitions for key genre terms. The project file includes directions, rubric, and the crossword grid sheet.
This is a preview image of Genre Crossword Puzzle Creator Project. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Genre Newspaper Project
Here is a fun, student-centered project to help students review literary genre. Students create a newspaper with eight articles written in different genres and subgenres. The project sheet includes directions, an example, and a scoring rubric.
This is a preview image of Genre Newspaper Project. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Genre Book Review Activity
Here's another fun activity to help students master genre. Students examine books in small groups and discuss the genre and subgenres of each text. After coming to a consensus, students write their answers down on this sheet. You provide your own texts. (Note: You have to provide your own books for this activity.)
This is a preview image of Genre Book Review Activity. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Genre Movie Posters Project
Here's another fun activity to help students master genre. Students will create three movie posters. Each poster will feature a movie from a different subgenre. They can be real movies or imagined. Students can learn and review genre while they showcase their creativity! This project sheet contains directions, an example, and a scoring rubric.
This is a preview image of Genre Movie Posters Project. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Genre Class Practice Activity 1
Students need practice with many text types to master genre. This activity will give your whole class practice. Project the practice problems on the board. Have students solve the problems and discuss them in small groups or as a whole. This activity has 5 practice problems.
This is a preview image of Genre Class Practice Activity 1. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Genre Quiz 1
Here's a matching quiz to evaluate students on their understanding of genre and subgenre terms. Students match the definitions to the terms and answer multiple choice questions.
This is a preview image of Genre Quiz 1. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
Genre Piranha: Review Game
Here is a browser game to help students with literary genre. Students play as a fish trying to get to a light house and avoid larger fish. When they get hit they have to answer a question about literary genre. There are literally hundreds of questions. Students will have so much fun playing. They won't even realize that they are mastering genre.
This is a preview image of Genre Piranha: Review Game. Click on it to enlarge it or view the source file.
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  1. justus

     /  February 4, 2020

    Wow! this is awesome, thank you so much God bless you for the wonderful insight. can I ask a question, please Which literary genre is found in Book of Leviticus?

  2. Meera

     /  July 11, 2019

    Wonderful work and so generous of you to share.

  3. raji k

     /  June 12, 2019

    Thank you very much for the wonderful website Sir.

  4. tiwen

     /  April 20, 2019


  5. marc perdomo

     /  September 7, 2017

    thank u much help

  6. John

     /  June 19, 2017

    This is the best website explaining genres, it was so good I had to say thanks

  7. Aygul Rzayeva

     /  May 20, 2017

    Hi there. I want to ask you 2 questions.1) what is genre of a story about a girl who meets the president Abraham Lincoln. 2) what is the genre of a text that explains a process. please help. you site is really perfect!

  8. Aubrey

     /  March 22, 2017

    Wow!!! This website is awesome! Cool idea! It really helped me with my Genre quest!!

  9. Caroline

     /  March 22, 2017

    Thank you for your time. I know you probably have a lot to do but you used your time to help others learn and turn out to be collage ready.

  10. Natasha

     /  March 18, 2017

    Hi there, I would like to say, it is a very good site and very helpfull. But I still have some questions. Religious books like Bible, Torah, and Quran what are they and where would they go in your list of genre or where would parable go. And what is the difference between parable and fable.

    Thank you

    • Great question. The genre of religious texts is highly debatable. I’m not going to enter that debate. I will tell you, however, that both parables and fables teach lessons with short, succinct stories. The difference is that fables generally involve talking, anthropomorphized animals and parables usually do not. Also, the moral of a fable is clearly stated at the end. Parables usually ask readers to infer the message.

      Best wishes!

  11. sindou bolé

     /  February 28, 2017

    I’m so glad after reading your course about the kinds of literature genres .It has improved my knowledge.Thank you.

  12. Jamilya

     /  February 21, 2017

    Awesome website you have created here. Thank you for your precious time and great effort for sharing all this and help so many teachers out there save their time, including myself. Thanks a million. Looking forward to more great and interesting worksheets.

  13. Pikul Suksongkram

     /  November 25, 2016

    Thank so much for your resourceful site which is very useful to improve my teaching. Awesome! Thanks again for your wonderful help.

  14. Pierre

     /  November 17, 2016

    Your website along with the materials provided here salvage my life.

  15. Jj

     /  October 10, 2016

    I love how it is so neat and clan I know what it is know

  16. Priya

     /  July 26, 2016

    A very helpful site. Always look forward to new worksheets.

  17. Devin

     /  March 24, 2016

    Thank you so much for all of these amazing resources! I teach at an “Alternative School” in Pennsylvania that services mostly at risk students. As such, the nature of our school and curriculum is very different from a normal school, but my students take to these resources very well! They’re clear enough for them to grasp, but challenging enough that they don’t feel like they’re being spoon fed (a fine line to walk with teenagers who are reading well below grade level).

  18. Amy

     /  March 9, 2016

    AMAZING resource! Thanks for sharing all of these quality materials! Also- thanks for having the integrity to realize that teachers should always support other teachers and not CHARGE them to share ideas or materials. I’ve already copied and pasted the link for your website to my colleagues, and they are just as impressed as I am!

  19. Stacey

     /  September 2, 2015

    Thank you very much for this amazing website! I work in a low income district in a public Montessori program and this will save me hours of time creating the shelfwork that our students use in the classroom! Words seem inadequate to express my gratitude…

  20. Mary

     /  March 25, 2015

    Thank you very for this web site. It has proven very helpful to me and my students. Thanks for allowing us to use them and for making them available. God bless you.

    • Thank you for your blessings. They are always appreciated. Best wishes now and in the future to you and your students.

  21. Joshua Moore

     /  January 28, 2014


    I’ve just browsed some of the activity sheets. Do you have a section where the answers are published?

    Thank you.

  22. Deanna Horsens

     /  September 8, 2013

    Jackpot! You are amazing! This is only my second year in Language Arts and you just saved me an incredible amount of time searching for lessons and materials. I cannot thank you enough!

  23. Dameon

     /  April 17, 2013

    Love this website

  24. Sherry Nelson

     /  February 28, 2013

    Mr. Morton – You are a life-saver! My co-teacher and I use this website weekly, and while we are gearing up for the ISATs, we use these to hone our skills everyday. THANK YOU for this excellent resource!

  25. Reggie Ruggie

     /  February 17, 2013

    Mr. Mortini, Your organization and content are exemplary. Thank you for sharing your work. Reggie R.

  26. Theresa Linder

     /  January 8, 2013

    Thank you so much for your worksheets. They have help me update my lessons and focus on the practice that will help my students succeed. Fantastic!

  27. Jo Garcia

     /  January 8, 2013

    Your website is awesome. I used most of your activities for my students with learning disabilities. I modified some a little bit to suit their needs, but, the fact that I have available materials ready such as the power point presentations is really great. It reduces the preparation time which enable me to do my IEPs. Thank you very much.

  28. Lakeitra Davis-Carter

     /  January 2, 2013

    Ereadingworksheets saved the day for me with the powerpoints right on target for the lessons as I introduced them

  29. Linda

     /  September 16, 2012

    This will help me so much. Thank you for sharing such an easy way to teach this subject. I will be using this in my classroom.

  30. Mrs. G

     /  September 7, 2012

    Thanks, these helpful worksheets are perfect for my ESL/ELL high school students.

  31. Allison

     /  September 6, 2012

    Love this! I jigsawed the worksheets & kids are having fun with it. I wish it had the answers- that has slowed me down a bit making sure I have them right! Thank you so much. It is great!

  32. Jackie

     /  June 15, 2012

    This looks absolutely great. I am always looking for a fresh approach in my teaching and when there is an uncomplicated, easy to use site, I get quite excited. Thank you for sharing.

  33. cammie

     /  May 15, 2012

    wow thanks soooo much this made my homwork so much easier i’m sooo not good with genre’s or subgenre’s!!!!! it took me 5 minutes on my homework.

  34. dianne

     /  April 23, 2012

    This website is amazing! Thank you for sharing; it has helped me out so much! You are awesome!

  35. Andrew

     /  March 28, 2012

    Thank you so much your website. It has been such a huge time saver and I consider it to be a valuable classroom resource.

  36. Teresa

     /  March 15, 2012

    I am totally grateful for this website. This site is more than exceptional. When I use the information from this site, I can be sure that I am using work meets the common core state standards. Additionally, I have been able to save so much time, and can focus on finding new best practices, grade more papers, etc. Thank you a thousand times a thousand ! Thank you for taking the time and effort to create such a wonderful site.

  1. Can We Just Read? » Blog Archive » Online Fun: Literary Genres
  2. Genre stories | Hinteler

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