Sunday, April 21, 2013

Writing Children’s Books: Genre Differences P2

Writing Children’s Books:

Genre Differences Part Two

By Karen Cioffi

Part One of this two-part article discussed books for babies, toddlers, and preschoolers: Bedtime Stories, Board Books, and Picture Books. If you haven’t read it yet, please CLICK HERE.

Part Two moves on to school age children.

Chapter books for the 6 - 9 or 7 – 10 year old group: Children in this group are learning to read. The vocabulary and storyline is expanding, but clarity is still a must. These books may be labeled as ‘early readers’ or ‘easy readers’ by educational publishers and are designed to be read by the child. The word count is usually between 5,000 and 12,000.

An example of a chapter book is Clarice Bean, That's Me by Lauren Child, another is Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo.

In regard to Because of Winn-Dixie, the protagonist is ten years old. Since children tend to read-up (the protagonist will be 2 – 3 years older than the reader), the target audience is around 7 – 8 years old, placing it within this genre and possibly the younger end of middle grade.

Middle grade books: The middle grader is between 8 and twelve years old. The middle-grader will go for stories that he can associate with and characters he can form a bond with. The word count is usually a minimum of 20,000.

As the child is able to comprehend more and is maturing, so should the stories. Stories and conflict can be more involved and you can now introduce more than one protagonist or point of view. This age group can also be introduced to science fiction, fantasy, and mysteries.

An example of a middle grade book is Walking Through Walls by Karen Cioffi. The early Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling are also middle-graders.

Young adult books: This genre encompasses the twelve to sixteen and up age group. YAs can be edgy; plots and characters can be complex and serious issues addressed.

An example of a young adult book is An Audience for Einstein by Mark Wakely. The Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer is also in the YA genre.

A useful way to get a better idea of what the different genres consist of is to visit your local library and talk to the children’s section librarian. She’ll be able to show you books in each genre and give you tidbits of information on which are the most popular, which are classic, and much more.

One final note here, each publisher will have his own criteria for categorizing a book and its minimum and maximum page length within a category.

What are your favorite books within these categories?

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  1. Hi Karen,
    This was a very informative article! So much so, that I shared the link with my critique group hoping that if they're not already, they'll follow 4RV's blog, your blog, or both!

  2. Deb, Thanks so much! I'm glad you found the post informative.

  3. Thank you for the two-part information about children's books.

  4. Thanks for the second part of this great topic. Some of my family's faves:

    Chapter books: The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson (me) Junie B. Jones books by Barbara Park (girls)

    Middle Grade: Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney and Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russell (the girls love both these series)

    Young Adult: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (all of us got into this series) and Cinder by Marissa Meyer (not my favorite, but still good). We're reading Scarlet, the second book of Meyer's Lunar Chronicles series now.

  5. Hi, Cheryl. Great list of books. One of my favorites is A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park.