Wednesday, May 19, 2010


This is a list of children's fiction categories with word count ranges and descriptions for each category. If you're looking for nonfiction book genres for children, I have a blog post for that too!

Children's Fiction Categories || age ranges of children's books | picture books through young adult | book categories | children's age groups

Board Books

0-200 words. Ages 0-2.

Most are written by illustrators or written in-house. Often have pop-ups, sounds, and teach concepts. Very difficult to break into. SOME board books are actually picture books disguised in the board book format, but many believe it shouldn't be that way.

Early Picture Books

0-500 words. Ages 2-5.

There is text and illustration on each page of an early picture book. They tell a very simple story, usually based on familiar situations. Lots of action and humor, with familiar routines such as bedtime, losing teeth, first day of school, holidays, etc.

Classic Picture Books

200-1500 words. (Average is 800). Ages 4-8.

Many genres: fantasy, historical, realistic, talking animals, humorous, even nonfiction. Meant to be read aloud, so vocabulary is not controlled. Big words are okay (the adult can carry the meaning along with the rest of the context of the story and also the pictures). Text often lyrical and rhythmic, with very little description. "The illustrations add another level of meaning to the story; the text and pictures work together to tell the whole story." This also happens to be MY FAVORITE category!

Story Picture Books

800-3000 words. (Average is about 1500). Ages 5-10.

Relatively new genre, in some respects. Some would argue that it's an older genre. Illustrations still important, but usually does not add another level to story. The illustrations merely reflect what has already been written. No art notes necessary. Meant for older readers to read to themselves. Very hard market to break into.

How to Analyze a Picture Book with a Story Board

Easy Readers

100-2000 words. Ages 5-8, roughly.

For emergent readers. Color pictures throughout but have a more grown-up feel to the books. Most publishers have 3 different levels. More timeless than any other book group. Lots of short, grammatical sentences with action and dialogue. The book we were assigned to read was Amelia Bedelia. And I had actually never read it before!

Chapter Books

6,000-15,000 words. (Average is 10,000). Ages 7-10.

Books are 64-96 pages. Also known as transitional books. Short chapters with 4-5 pages for each. Usually 1-3 black-and-white ill. per chapter.

Middle grade books (aka MG novels)

20,000-35,000 words. Ages 8-12.

Books are 84-150 pages, usu. 125. Usually no illustrations, but sometimes will include a few pieces of black and white spot art throughout the book. Characters are very much into friends and family.

Upper Middle Grade

25,000-40,000 words. Ages 10-14.

Books are 100-150 pages. Fairly new category. Written like a YA, but with younger characters.

Young Adult books (aka YA novels)

40,000-60,000 words. Ages 13-17.

Books are 150 pages or more. Characters are usually 13-17 years old. Most popular theme is coming-of-age. The most necessary element is the character's desire to grow up and leave home, for whatever reason. It is often an emotional growth, not necessarily with the character actually leaving home.

How to Analyze a Picture Book with a Story Board

Keep on keepin' on...


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