Sampling Genres

The use of different genres in the classroom not only exposes students to a wide variety of literature, but also provides frameworks for story types that are useful in reading comprehension and writing. Books that celebrate Hispanic heritage can also be used to encourage genre awareness.

Traditional Literature

Folktales, legends, fables, and myths have entertained and instructed children and adults for thousands of years. These beloved stories, which grew from the imaginations of ordinary people, can give readers insights into cultural values and universal concerns. The Legend of the Poinsettia by Tomie dePaola shares a young Mexican girl's wisdom regarding gifts from the heart. The Tale of Rabbit and Coyote by Tony Johnston, also set in Mexico, presents a humorous character in the trickster tradition. This genre, which grew from oral storytelling, is especially effective for read-alouds.


A product of the 20th century, picture-books use both words and illustrations to tell a story. Originally geared for primary-school-aged children, the current trend is to use picture-books with older readers to enrich thematic unit study, provide information, as well as exemplify the literary elements. Miss Rumphius (La Señorita Runfio) by Barbara Cooney will delight young children with its simple message – expressed in words and pictures – to make the world more beautiful, and can also launch older readers into environmental and botanical studies. Mama and Papa Have a Store by Amelia Lau Carling presents a truly cross-cultural story about the little-known migration of Chinese families to Guatemala shortly before World War II.

Modern Fantasy

Children love the highly imaginative yet believable stories of modern fantasy. Special favorites are animal fantasies such as The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog (Las Verdaderas Aventuras de Hank, El Perro Vaquero), in which animals humorously behave as human beings. Also beloved are personified toy stories like Winnie-the-Pooh, now translated into Spanish in Winny de Puh. Students may write their own animal or toy fantasies, or enact favorite episodes through Readers Theater.

Realistic Fiction

Children often recognize their own experiences or those of family and friends in stories with realistic characters, plots, and settings. An Island Like You by Judith Ortiz-Cofer and Felita by Nicholasa Mohr offer readers beautifully portrayed slices of life in diverse households and neighborhoods, and give a realistic view of an important aspect of American society. Students can share responses to these books in Literature Circles and connect them to their own unique experiences.


Brought to you by Penguin Young Readers Group.

The Penguin Group is the second-largest English-language trade book publisher in the world. The company possesses perhaps the world's most prestigious list of best-selling authors and a backlist of unparalleled breadth, depth, and quality. Penguin Young Readers Group features books by authors and illustrators including Judy Blume, Brian Jacques, Eric Carle, and beloved characters like Winnie-the-Pooh, Madeline, The Little Engine that Could, and many, many more.

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