Part of falling in love with books is finding the kinds of books you’d like to read. I personally go through genre phases, and I’m currently on a romantic comedy kick. But I also like reading mysteries. And I also like biographies.
It’s the same with kids.
When they discover the kinds of books they like to read, they’re going to develop a love for books that lasts a lifetime. So I make it a goal to help every single kid in my class find their favorite reading genres.
Some kids are natural-born readers like me who can read a novel in a day. But it can be tricky to get other kids to fall in love with reading, especially if they’re not sure what kinds of books they like.
There are many different kinds of reading genres. I specifically go over 8 in my elementary classroom, and I think every classroom library should have these 8 in their collection:
- realistic fiction
- science fiction
And I like to go over reading genres at the very beginning of the year, to start that reading culture right off the bat.
An easy way to teach genre is to do read-alouds that are from different reading genres. I have a 15 to 20-minute window where I do a read-aloud every day. And I try to choose books that are different types of genres.
Try to choose books from different series to get kids interested. If you don’t have time to do a full read-aloud every day, you can even just read the first few pages of a book and introduce them to that genre.
And sometimes the kids are just hooked from those first few pages. Reading the first few pages is a good idea if you’re not a fan of a certain genre yourself. So you don’t have to read the whole book. You can just read a few pages and tell them if they want to know the rest of the story, they need to check out that book, or if they’re interested in other stories like that to check out the classroom library.
Do mini-lessons at the beginning of the year for each type of genre. If you use a poster or create a chart with them, teach them what the different genres are and give them examples of books that fit under each genre.
Then, as you do the read-aloud throughout the year ask the kids what genre the book is and play games to review.
One activity I like to do to review is a scavenger hunt. It’s basically a set of task cards that I place around the room. Each task card has a definition of a different type of genre.
Kids have to go around and figure out what the genres on the task cards are. As they figure out the genres they collect letters to help them figure out a mystery phrase.
I also love doing this digitally in Google Forms. To create this I set up the same task cards inside a Google Form. Each time a student answers the question correctly, they receive a letter.
They record their letters on the printed version of the recording sheet so it’s easy to keep track of.
This is a great option, if every kid has a device, for those times when you need the kids to be engaged but also want them to complete a quieter activity.
Another way to talk about reading genres is to ask them about movies and TV shows that they’ve watched that are based on a book. Talk about the movie or the show, and include those books in the library.
Look for books that are similar to ones that they’ve enjoyed in the past. Ask them what they’ve read and enjoyed and invite them to create a wish list for your class library.
I like to create wishlists about three or four times a year. I will ask the kids what types of books they’ve enjoyed in the classroom, we discuss the reading genre, and create a wish list of the books they want to see in the classroom library.
Not only does it help us review reading genres, but it also furthers that culture that I’ve been trying to establish for the love of reading.
The last idea for getting kids to explore reading genres is to have kids recommend books and discuss them with their peers.
When I personally look for books to read, I go to Amazon, and I type in the genre that I want to read. And then I look for books that are recommended for that genre.
I also read the reviews to see what people are saying about the books and if any of those topics resonate with me, I try out the book.
It’s the same with kids. Kids are more willing to take the recommendations of other kids when it comes to what books they read. Even more so than the teacher’s recommendation. Because if their peers like it, they think they’re going to like it too.
So this is a great way to not only review genre but also further that reading culture in your classroom to get kids to read.
There are so many ways to get kids interested in reading and exploring genres is going to help your students discover the kinds of books they love.
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