A Child-Friendly Guide to Fiction Genres

Helping children discover reading genres that interest them makes them discover new books with greater ease.

For example, if children understand that a favourite book of theirs falls into the historical fantasy genre, then they can ask a librarian or an adult to recommend other historical fantasy books.

It also helps them identify and convey what kind of readers they are. When someone asks what type of books they like, they might respond with, “I enjoy reading historical fiction,” or “I prefer poetry.”

Exposure to different genres opens your child’s eyes to the enormous range of books that are available. Read on for a child-friendly guide to fiction genres.


Fiction is a general literary categories that holds many genres and sub-genres within it. Think of it as an umbrella term that covers many sections. Fictional stories are not real. They might seem real or even be based on real events or in a real time period, but they have never actually happened. Reading fiction is fun because it can take you into worlds and times imagined.

Below are seven genres that are common within fiction:

In more detail:

Contemporary Fiction

Contemporary fiction stories are stories set in our world at approximately the same time that the book was written. These books don’t have any time travel, talking animals, or anything out of the ordinary, but they are still made-up. Contemporary fiction can be funny and silly, meant to make readers laugh, or they can be more serious. New Kid and Ms. Bixby’s Last Day are two contemporary fiction stories for children that are worth checking out. 

Science Fiction

Sci-fi or science fiction stories usually include elements of advanced technologies that take place in the future or even in space. Hard science fiction refers to the types of stories that use more realistic math and science in the creation of the story, like Omega City. Soft sci-fi is more interested in the possibilities of the setting and doesn’t try to stick to any laws of science or math like Last Day on Mars.

Historical Fiction

When you see the message “based on true events” at the beginning of a movie, that’s a good sign that the story falls in the historical fiction genre. Maybe the author has written a story about an imaginary character who grew up during World War II , a real time period but not a real person and so the story itself isn’t real. Popular historical fiction books for kids include The Last Musketeer seriesOne Crazy Summer, the Flashback Four series and War Horse.


Mystery is a popular literary genre in both adult and children’s literature. Readers love the thrill of the unknown, solving the case and uncovering the truth. Well-known children’s mystery novels and series include Case ClosedThe World’s Greatest DetectiveThe Greystone Secrets, and The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place

Fairy Tales/ Fables/ Folktales

Fairy tales are stories like Hansel and Gretel, Rumpelstiltskin, and the Three Billy Goats Gruff, while fables are different because they are usually short and feature a clear moral lesson. Think of stories like the race between the tortoise and the hare.

Folktales are similar to fairy tales and fables because they were passed down for generations, but they were usually passed down through word of mouth. Alvin Schwartz’s Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a written collection of spooky American folktales for children. Though many of these tales are in books now, originally they were passed down from generation to generation orally.


In fantasy books, you’ll find stories about universes that look very different from ours — places where magic is common and the typical laws of nature don’t apply. Think of stories like the Seven Wonders series, Lalani of the Distant Sea, or The School for Good and Evil series, which are full of wizards and mystical creatures and the popular Harry Potter series. Fantasy stories are totally outside of the realm of possibility, whereas sci-fi tends to hold on to some of our laws of nature.

High fantasy novels take place in a totally different world, but low fantasy novels keep things on Earth with fantastical elements. Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine is an example of the former, while Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston is an example of the latter.


Horror stories are meant to get your blood pumping and are not for the faint hearted. Even little readers can enjoy some light horror with fun, silly books about Halloween and friendly monsters. Older readers will enjoy the creepy stories from series like Goosebumps.

Which is your favourite genre? Type it in the comments below and share your favourite book!

Till next time…

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