How to Teach Genres to Third Graders

Understanding the differences between genres at an early age can help students better understand fiction.

A genre is a specific type of literature that fits the tropes and norms of certain specifications. Horror, fantasy, action, drama; all of these are genres appear in literature, television, film, even poetry. This being the case, teaching children what genres are and how they affect literary works of all kinds of media can be instrumental in the educational process. Teaching 3rd-graders what genres are might seem difficult, but it can be done easily by following a few key guidelines.

Teach the students the difference between comedy and tragedy. These are the most basic genres of literature of all kinds. Every type of literature will loosely fall into one of these two categories. Teach the student that these two basic genres can either make them laugh or cry respectively. As long as they understand comedies and tragedies, the other genres will be much simpler.

Plan lessons where the students read short stories or excerpts of stories and then label whether it is a comedy or a tragedy. This will help them differentiate the two while also teaching them how to differentiate genres in general.

Teach the students the base sub-genres; fantasy (science fiction), adventure, historical, horror, western and suspense. Though these are not all of the possible sub-genres, they are the most common and easiest to teach younger children. Teach each one individually, offering examples of some easy to understand excerpts from novels or stories of each individual genre.

Assign the students to write a short story of their own in one of the genres. Alternatively, you could provide a compilation of short stories or excerpts of each genre and have the students label what each genre is.