Lesson 8: Genre


Activity 1: Matching Genres

Authors create a variety of different kinds of works that can be divided into genres. A genre is a category of literature that is defined by similarities in theme, style, or structure. In this activity, you'll learn more about genre and categorize book descriptions based on the genre that seems most appropriate to you.

Read over the list of genres in the "Things to Know" section. Use the definitions to help you complete the "Matching Genres" activity page.
Student Activity Page
In this lesson, your child will match book descriptions to the genre in which the book might fit best. An answer key has been provided.
Answer Key - Matching Genres
Book DescriptionGenre
In a far distant future, humans have merged with their technology to become half-biological, half-computerized life forms who are working to develop a solar spacecraft that will let them travel to other planets to mine the resources required for the next stage of technological development.science fiction
Richly illustrated in the Japanese manga style, this adaptation of
The Wizard of Oz is sure to catch the eye of comic fans and fans of the classic L. Frank Baum novel alike.
graphic novel
Set in France during World War II, this novel for teenagers tells the story of a young couple whose lives are torn apart by the war.historical fiction
When a group of teenagers become separated from their group on a hiking trip, they wander, lost, into a hidden canyon where they will spend the most dangerous and thrilling week of their lives.adventure story
In this uproariously funny spoof of the classic fairy tale "The Three Little Pigs," a rock band must play three little gigs, in spite of the constant jabs of a wolfish music critic whose arcastic "huffing and puffing" criticisms will leave audiences laughing out loud.satire or parody
In this book for middle school readers, a homeschooled teen struggles to maintain her friendships with her best friends, twin sisters who have decided to leave their homeschool group and attend public high school in the fall.realistic fiction
On the surface, this story is about the birds who visit a front yard bird feeder and their fear of the cats who come by every morning looking for a meal. But a closer reading reveals this book's deeper message about the nature of fear and the modern world's response to terrorism.allegory
Have you ever wondered why trees are bare in winter? The Cherokee legend explaining this natural phenomenon is retold in this richly illustrated picture book for grades 2-5.myth
When a teen's computer containing the draft of her new novel and the video game she was writing is missing, it's up to her four friends who call themselves the Rainy Day Detectives to solve the case.mystery

Activity 2: Experimenting with Genre

Materials: crayons, markers, or colored pencils*
In this activity, you'll have the chance to experiment with genre on your own. First, look back over Chapters 15 and 16 of the reading and choose a scene or incident from the book that interests you. Perhaps you'll choose a scene of Royall Tyler talking about politics with Abigail and Nabby Adams by the fire, or Thomas Jefferson trying to convince Abigail to join him on a ship bound for Paris in July instead of leaving earlier. Or maybe you'll decide to focus on the stormy part of the trip once the ship was underway, or the happy reunion between Johnny Adams and his mother or Nabby Adams and her father.

On your own paper or using a computer, write a paragraph that summarizes the scene you chose based solely on known facts — do not add any details or make up any additions. Instead, simply summarize the events based on the nonfiction biography that you read. Then read over Option 1 and Option 2 and decide which you would prefer to complete. Option 1 focuses on a variety of genres while Option 2 allows you to create a graphic novel version.
In this activity, your child will summarize an event from the day's reading in her own words and then choose a genre to rewrite the scene in another way. Option 1 focuses on a range of genres and is a written activity while Option 2 invites students to create a graphic novel version (perhaps combined with another genre as well, such as a science fiction graphic novel) and will allow your child to both write and use artwork to convey the story. Allow your child to choose whichever option she prefers.

Option 1: Your Choice of Genre

Look back over your summary of the event or incident that you selected. Then imagine that you are an author interested in writing about Abigail Adams but, unlike Natalie S. Bober, you don't want to write a nonfiction biography. Instead, you'd like to try a different genre and you plan to fictionalize Abigail Adams's life a bit. Consider these options:
  • Historical Fiction -- You may stick to the facts most of the time, but you might want to share details that we can't know from the historical record, like the specific words that people spoke to one another in a conversation, or you may want to add a made-up character to the scene or otherwise alter what happened.
  • Mystery -- Perhaps you'd like to create a mystery in which one of the members of the Adams family plays a role?
  • Science Fiction -- You could create a fantastic story about time travel or aliens that somehow involves this moment from the life of Abigail Adams.
Choose one of the genres above and rewrite the scene (in a paragraph or two) as it might appear in your version. Since you are taking a fictional approach, feel free to embellish the scene and make up details that will fit with the genre you chose.

For example, if you were choosing to rewrite the scene from the opening of Chapter 14 from the previous lesson's reading, in which Abigail and John Adams were reunited in September 1779 and spent some time taking long walks together and attending to the harvest and maintenance on the farm, as a mystery, it might look something like this:

Taking her husband's hand, Abigail led him into the kitchen herb garden, eager to show John how the rosemary had grown in the year and a half that he had been away. The aromas of sage and thyme filled the air, and bees buzzed around the early fall flowers of the herbs. "You won't believe it, John," she said, leaning happily on his arm, "it's nearly as tall as the fence and we've been using it in so many dishes."

But as they approached the white picket fence at the garden's edge, they stopped in their tracks. Where the large rosemary bush should have been, there was only a deep, muddy hole in the ground, surrounded by a few bruised and broken sprigs of the herb. "Oh my goodness," Abigail exclaimed, "this is just like what happened to Mrs. Warren last week! She went out to her own garden and found a rose bush missing." John looked concerned, furrowed his brow and said, "Abby, I think we should walk over to the Warrens' house and see if perhaps there's a connection."
In this option, your child will summarize a scene from the reading in one paragraph and then rewrite that scene as historical fiction, mystery, or science fiction.

Option 2: Graphic Novel

Imagine that you are rewriting the scene from the biography of Abigail Adams to use for a graphic novel. Use the "Graphic Novel" pages provided to retell the story in graphic novel format, and then use colored pencils, markers, crayons, or other art supplies to color in your artwork.

If you'd like, you can combine the graphic novel genre with another genre and, instead of just retelling the true story from Abigail Adams's life, you can, instead, imagine the story in another genre (as described in Option 1) and then draw and write that genre-based version as a graphic novel.
In this option your child will retell the scene she selected from today's reading in graphic novel format. She may either retell the story as a nonfiction account or she may choose a genre to use in reimagining the story. Templates have been provided for your child's artwork.