As adults, we often walk into a bookstore with a certain genre we are ready to peruse the aisles for in order to find our next read. Would your students be able to do the same? Are they able to identify their favorite genre as historical fiction, fantasy, mysteries, etc?
Students with strong genre knowledge are able to better comprehend books they are reading based on their previous experience within the same genre. When picking up a mystery to read, they can prepare to navigate clues in order to make predictions for the solution. With a science fiction novel, they can expect to be taken away to an exciting future with scientific and technological advances. This genre background knowledge helps them to make connections, and ultimately comprehend, a new book of the same genre.
Teachers know the importance of exposing students to both fiction and nonfiction texts. However, it is also important to take it a step further and also expose students to all kinds of genres within those two categories. The easiest way to do this is to provide books for them to explore in different genres either as a whole class or in a classroom library for independent reading.
Below are 5 ways to teach genres directly and indirectly:
1. USE GENRE LABELS IN YOUR CLASSROOM LIBRARY
Set up a classroom library with tons of genres. It helps to have the books organized by genre with library labels.
2. DISPLAY GENRES
Have student friendly definitions of each genre somewhere that your students have access to them. I like to use this genre word wall display, but you could also just list each genre with its definition on a poster or anchor chart paper.
3. IDENTIFY GENRES WHEN READING
When doing a read aloud, or guided reading, be sure to identify the genre when introducing the book. You can use an anchor chart that explains the elements of the genre in order to discuss why this book fits into its genre. As students become more familiar with the elements that make up each genre, this is something you can ask them to help you to figure out from the title and brief summary on the back of the book before reading.
4. HAVE STUDENTS TRACK GENRES THEY READ
Allow students to see trends in genres they are gravitating to in independent reading. This can also encourage them to step outside of their comfort zone. There are many ways you can do this. One way I like to do this is having a genre accountability clip chart for independent reading.
I have also seen teachers attach chalk board paper below genre vocabulary cards for students to write their names under which genre they are currently reading. The photo below shows how @mrsmac4thandgoal sets this up in her classroom.
5. ONGOING ELEMENTS OF GENRE PRACTICE
It is important to have ongoing genre identification practice. Some ways to do this:
- Genre sort – You could use pictures of books, such as from a Scholastic book order. You could also have students sort books into your classroom library if it is organized by genre.
- Genre Graphic Organizers – These are great to use for ongoing genre practice during a whole class read aloud, guided reading, or independent reading. I like to have students use these during independent reading after moving their clip to their current genre on the accountability clip chart above. I have a bin organized by genre that is easy for students to grab from (see below).
- Genre Crafts – Reading crafts are a fun, hands on way to explore each of the types of genres. Genre Crafts are low prep and easy to assemble.
- Genre puzzles – This is an easy center to set up once and forget about. I love using puzzles for vocabulary practice, because they allow students to practice the same terms over and over.
All of these resources can be found in my TpT shop by clicking on the covers below:
Looking for ways to switch up your Fiction reading response? Check out this blog post on Engaging and Meaningful Fiction Reader Response