Children's Literature




About Us



Reading to

Listening Levels
Good Books
Home Environment
Book Sources
Humor & Nonsense
Folk Literature
Wordless Books
Concept Books

Classifying children's literature can be confusing because it contains different organizational formats. The following is our interpretation, and we hope it will be of assistance on your journey through children's books.


For younger children these books are usually thirty-two pages in length, and can be read aloud in one session. Illustrations should be on every page, because while adults are reading the words, children are reading the pictures. For older children, there is still a need for beautiful illustrations and they should be in every book, whether large or small.

Stories that are told by the illustrations and not the words fall in this category. The illustrations are arranged in sequence and read through the pictures. This encourages logical thinking as children and adults are required to tell the story in their own words. This skill is the basic ingredient in reading comprehension - finding the meaning underneath the words. The more complex wordless books demand closer attention and examination, interpreting details in order to understand what is happening.

Language patterns, meter, rhythm and repetition are found in these books. They usually appeal more to feelings rather than reason. For young children, the repetitious rhythm of a nursery rhyme is fairly nonsensical, but they hear the shape and feel of the words. Children become accustomed to words in unfamiliar arrangements and to the cadence of the meter.

Alphabet, counting and labeling books as well as those that deal with the abstract ideas of color, time, space, and size relationships are found in this category. They range from simple to complex. Information may be given in story form or offered in a straightforward manner with pictures used to illustrate the various points being made.

The concepts of beginning, middle, and ending are taught in these books. Short stories usually center around a single incident. Because of its shorter length, the characters and situations are fewer and less complicated than in novels. These books can be either longer picture books or stories stretched out over several chapters that require longer periods of reading.

Usually less detailed than novels, short novels still require a series of reading sessions. They should teach children character, courage, and integrity.

Generally, over one hundred pages in length, novels require more imagination from the listener and reader because of the longer, descriptive passages.

These books are multiple story collections linked through a theme or an author. Numerous good illustrations are very important.


FOLK LITERATURE (Traditional Literature)
Folk literature has existed for thousands of years, handed down from generation to generation. Most folk literature consists of stories in the form of fairy tales, fables, folktales, legends, and myths. However, they can also include proverbs, riddles, songs, superstitions, holidays, and religious celebrations.

           FOLKTALES - Folktales deal with the customs and beliefs of people that take place in the real world and are told as true stories. They are about animals or human beings and are full of fantasy and magic.

           FABLES - Fables are short stories told with animals and usually contain a moral or lesson. Most of the characters are animals and objects that talk and act like human beings. They remain popular because they illustrate truths that almost anyone can recognize.

           FAIRY TALES - Fairy tales occur in some imaginary land and are told as fiction. They speak to the heart and soul of a child because they appeal to a child's courage and confidence by offering hope. Fairy tales always end happily, wickedness is punished, and virtue is rewarded.

           MYTHS - Myths are historical stories that deal with the supernatural traditions and beliefs of people. They differ from most types of folk stories because they are considered true among the people who developed them.

           LEGENDS - Legends are stories that revolve around a person who may or may not have lived. Like myths, legends are told as true stories but they are set in the real world.

These books introduce children to the lives of important men and women. Through biographies, children can learn about people who have made great discoveries, changed the course of history, made contributions to the arts, or accomplished unusual deeds of courage or daring. A skillful biographer can make the life of a real person as exciting as the life of a fictional hero or heroine. Most authors base their biographies on fact. However, they often invent incidents or dialogue to make the stories more dramatic and lively especially for younger children.

Children deserve the best of all literature, including nonfiction, if presented in imaginative and exciting ways. Children are naturally curious about everything. Give them access to good nonfiction books with real life places and things to help satisfy their curiosity.

           INFORMATION BOOKS - Information books and books of knowledge introduce children to the world of learning about the wonders of science, the beauty of art, and the fascination of history.

           CONCEPT BOOKS - When concepts are learned in an enjoyable way, children are more successful in their reading and writing attempts, as they grow older. These books should be selected as much for their lovely illustrations as they are for any other reasons associated with learning letters and numbers.

Poetry has a kind of musical quality that captures a child's attention. Traditional nursery rhymes are usually the first written words many children hear. They are filled with humor, action, entertaining incidents, and musical language. They help children learn the days of the week, the months of the year, the alphabet, and how to count. Children who have outgrown nursery rhymes can find delight in many humorous poems. One type of verse that appeals to children is nonsense verse because it deals with illogical and silly characters and situations. It is through poetry that children experience the shape and feel of the words as well as the beauty of the language. Make it light, fun, and loaded with plenty of nonsense and exaggeration. Expose children to its richness throughout their young years in order for them to develop a love of the language.

Return to Top