Children and teen literature is classified in genres. This is not so much on the insistence of the authors, but on the insistence of the marketing department of the publishing houses and on-line distributors. The placement of your book in a certain genre is an inexact process. While ‘genre’ means similar in style, form and content, it isn’t always easy to pick the appropriate one.

As well as genre, the books that children read are classified into age groups in the marketplace, so that publishing houses can organize their sales and target their buyers. Although the classifications do correspond to age groups, they don’t necessarily respond to children’s ability to read and comprehend. We all know six–year-olds who read at a grade five level and ten -year-olds who read at a grade two level. Their age doesn’t necessarily dictate their reading level. Still, the book industry uses these classifications and writers need to understand them. The general categories for age are:

(a) Early Childhood Picture books (with sub-classifications of board books, concept books, chapter books, miniatures, multiple-sensory books and verse)

(b) Ages six to eight

(c) Juvenile or Middle-grade

(d) Young adult

(e) New Adult

These divisions change as new material such as interactive e-books arrive on the market. All books can be and often are classified differently by individual librarians or school buyers, but your story needs to fit into a designated group as publishers to keep the all-important marketing department of publishing houses happy. So, as authors, we need to direct our book to the appropriate age group a specific genre, even though those genres are slippery, overlap and double up. Good luck with that one.


Writing for Children and Young Adults by Marion Crook                     





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