Do you love to read? We hope so! It’s so important to be able to read well. Just think of all the reading you do in a typical day.

Of course, you have to read at school. You may also have a favorite book that you like to read on the bus or before you go to bed. But there are many other times throughout the day that you need to read.

You read the signs you see along the road. You read the menu at your favorite restaurant. You read the television guide to find when your favorite show is on. If you think about it, you’re probably reading all day long!

But what do you really like to read when you have the time to sit down and relax with a good book? Maybe you like real-life stories about sports heroes. Perhaps thrilling zombie stories are more your speed. Or maybe a romance lifts your spirits. Still others might prefer to read a biography of a famous scientist or inventor.

These are all different examples of genres. A genre is a category of literature or other form of art or entertainment (such as paintings or music) based on certain defining criteria. Genres change over time. Some become unpopular and go away while new ones spring up as trends emerge.

Genres can be very broad or very narrow. The broadest literary genres are fiction and nonfiction.

Of course, within those broad genres, there are many other narrower genres. For example, some common narrower literary genres include comedy, fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction and biographies. A very specific literary genre within these narrower genres might be, for example, short stories for teens about the zombie apocalypse!

There are similar genres within music, too. What type of music do you like? Pop? Rock? Country? Classical? Reggae?

Musical genres can be both broad and narrow, just like literary genres. For example, if you like rock music, you might prefer classic rock or hard rock instead of alternative rock.

Genres got their start long, long ago when Greek philosophers Aristotle and Plato first came up with a classification system that divided literature into three genres: poetry, drama and prose. If you’ve been to a library or a book store lately, you know that the concept of genre has come a long way since the time of the ancient Greeks.

Genres are a huge part of our modern popular culture. In addition to being a way to classify different types of literature or entertainment, genres become a way to define yourself as a person.

Can you think of any friends or family members that identify with a particular genre to such an extent that the genre tends to define their thoughts and actions? For example, do you know someone who likes a certain type of music so much that they begin to dress and act like their favorite performers?

36 Join the Discussion

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    • What an awesome connection to our Wonder today, Monique! Thanks for telling us about the different genres you have learned about it class– it sounds like this is right up your alley! We Wonder if you have a favorite genre, whether it’s for books, music, or movies? :)

      • Hi there, Nathan, nearly each book falls into a genre, or many genres! We Wonder what your favorite book is? Can you determine the genre of that book? Keep WONDERing! :)

    • Hey there, Wonder Friend Dani! Thanks for telling us about one of your favorite genres! We are excited that you shared a guess with us, too! We look forward to discovering the next Wonder with you! :)

  1. Hi! I liked today’s wonder! I do read a lot. In fact, I read every day! I do not watch a lot of t.v., though. My family has a nice t.v., but we usually just watch Arthur on PBS kids on weekdays, and then sometimes in the afternoon we watch HG tv, that channel that has to do with houses and stuff like that. Then in the evening, if it’s a Monday or a Thursday or a Friday, we watch the History channel show, American pickers. Then we watch ESPN sometimes. Every night, I read to my younger brothers, (one of them just turned eight!) and at night I read my self asleep. I liked today’s wonder! Thank you for today’s wonder!

    • Berkeigh, your home sounds like a cool place to be! We are so excited to hear that you and your siblings read together at night, and watch awesome, educational TV as a family, too! We know that you LOVE to read and we hope you’ll continue to dive in to new books and genres as you grow! Thanks for telling us all about your weekly activities at home- it sounds like a great place to be! :)

    • Great question, Wonder Friend Kaykay! Genres are used to describe or categorize something… for example, a favorite literary genre here at Wonderopolis is fantasy (like Harry Potter and The Hunger Games books!) We Wonder if you have a favorite genre? Genres help us understand a category or theme… we Wonder if you can find the answer to your second question in today’s Wonder? :)

    • That’s great to hear, Jessica! We are so glad that today’s Wonder made you smile! We hope to Wonder with you again soon! :)

  2. Hey I’ve got a specific genre to give you wonderopolis HORROR.[LAUGHING JOKE{ HA, HA HA GET IT HORROR

    • Hey there, WOnder Friend Monique! Thanks for sharing another genre with us! Some of us here at Wonderopolis are interested in other genres, but horror sure is a popular genre in our world today! :)

  3. Great wonder! I love you and I love to read!
    I don’t watch TV very much you are the best
    Wonderopolis!

    • Hey there, Jack, thank you so much for telling us how much you enjoy WONDERing with us! We are so very happy that you’re here today, and we are glad you learned something new with us! What is your favorite genre? :)

    • Both of those genres rock, Wonder Friend Deja! We are glad you like to read- it’s just so much fun! We can’t wait to dive in to a new book… perhaps it will fall within one of those genres you mentioned!? :)

    • HOORAY for reading, Wonder Friend Angel! We are so happy you shared some of your favorite genres with us– it sounds like you enjoy books of all kinds! Keep up the reading and WONDERing– YOU ROCK! :)

    • WOW, thank you for telling us all about your favorite genres, Madi! It sounds like you are a great reader- we are so very proud of you! We Wonder if you’d like to write a book in the future? You can be a reader AND an author! :)

  4. My favorite genres are fantasy as I love Harry Potter, action as I love the Hunger Games and pop with a bit of country as I love Taylor Swift. What are your favorite genres?

    • WOW, what an awesome selection of genres, Ovi! We love all those genres, and we’d like to add historical fiction to the mix, too! Thank you for teling us all about your favorite genres, we are glad to learn all about you! :)

    • WOHOO! We are so very excited that you’re WONDERing and learning with us, Taniyah! HOORAY for learning something new! :)

    • Thanks for telling us about your Wonder discovery, Miles! We are excited that you learned something new with us today. Genre is another word to describe the type of book- it includes the subject and plot of the book. For example, a popular genre (for books and movies) is Sci-fi, or science fiction! :)

    • WOW, that’s really great to hear, Miles! We LOVE biographies and autobiographies, it sounds like you are an awesome reader! Keep up the great work, Miles! What is your favorite book? :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • What is a genre?
  • What are some examples of literary genres?
  • Can you share a favorite genre with a friend or family member?

Wonder Gallery

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Try It Out

There’s no better way to check out some different genres of books, music and movies than to explore one or more of the following activities with some friends or family members:

  • What genres do you like? You can probably name a few off the top of your head. Be thorough, though. Do a search through all the books, music and movies you have at home. What types of genres tend to be your favorites? Do you have a variety of favorites? You might be surprised to learn that certain genres appeal to you and you didn’t even realize it!
  • Field trip time! Ask a friend or family member to accompany you on a trip to a local library. Your goal? Check out some new genres! Just walk up and down the aisles of books and see what jumps out at you. What genres are you familiar with? What genres have you never heard of? Challenge yourself to pick out a book, musical recording, and movie from a genre you’ve never tried before. You never know when opening your mind and expanding your horizons will lead to a discovery of a new genre that you love!
  • So what’s your favorite genre of books or music? Do a friend or family member a favor and introduce them to some of your favorites. You never know when your suggestion might introduce them to a whole new world of enjoyment! But don’t just make a simple suggestion. Introduce them to your favorite genres with style. Think of this as a chance to play “show and tell!” Get some examples of your favorite books and music. Sit down with your friends and family members and tell them all about your favorites. What do you like about them? How similar are the selections within the genre? When you’re finished, turn the tables and ask your friends and family members to share their favorite genres with you. You never know when you might become a fan of historical fiction or classical music!

Still Wondering

ReadWriteThink’s Genre Characteristics lesson presents a list of five literary genres and details some of the elements of each.

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day is out of this world!

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