Genre Knowledge

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Jan. 4, 2017, 3:50 p.m.

What is Genre?

A genre is a category or subcategory in literature characterized by elements and similarities. Every text can be grouped into a genre, i.e. fiction, nonfiction, traditional literature, poetry, biography, etc.) Some texts are multi-genre texts.

Why Genre First?

Genres are a great starting point because every genre has concrete elements that sets it apart from others. Students must understand the elements of the genre to be able to comprehend, question, analyze, and synthesize while reading.

Our ultimate goal is that students will go beyond surface level understanding and be able to dig deeper by making inferences, asking questions, revising their own thinking. When the student understands the genre fully, they are able to uncover author's craft, compare and contrast, take a position on a topic and support it with facts and details, and much more.

How Do we Teach Genre?

As educators, we must explicitly teach the elements of genre to our students. This means we are exposing them to all genres throughout the school year and teaching each one to mastery. We must:

  • Define the Genre (i.e. Fiction)
  • List the Elements (i.e. Setting, Plot, Characters)
  • List the Text Structures (i.e. Problem Solution, Cause & Effect)

For more ideas and resources for teaching genre and other comprehension strategies (Figure 19), attend our Teaching Comprehension Strategies Workshop in Arlington, TX or San Antonio, TX or bring this training to your campus! Visit our website for more information,

Kelly Harmon and Randi Anderson

About The Authors

Kelly Harmon & Associates began in 2001 with a mission of instructional coaching and providing rich literacy resources for educators and parents. Our work incorporates research-based best practices for teaching and learning.

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