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What Are the Different Types of Children's Fiction?

By G. Wiesen
Updated: May 23, 2024

There are many different types of children’s fiction, though common types include those told in verse or poem form, stories for very young children, and works meant for older children. Stories told in verse form often use rhymes and other poetic devices to create stories that have a natural rhythm that is pleasing to listening children. While children’s fiction can be meant to be ageless, most fiction is written to appeal to either very young children, who may not understand the story being read to them, or older children who are often beginning to read.

Children’s fiction typically refers to any type of fictional work of writing, both poetry and prose, that is written specifically for children. This can include older and traditional stories, such as nursery rhymes and fairy tales, as well as more modern stories that have been written more recently. Many works of children’s fiction are created as poems or written in verse, often using rhyme schemes and “sing-song” rhythms. This allows such works to be more easily read aloud to young children, often keeping the attention of such children through the natural rhythm of the verse form.

Though some children’s fiction is intended for children of all ages, many works are specifically written for younger or older children. Picture books, for example, are often written for very young children, including toddlers and those just beginning to develop language. These books are frequently written in verse form as well, and can feature word choice that is intended to help young children begin to develop language and start to understand the words being read to them. Such works of children’s fiction often have a very small vocabulary, frequently repeating words to allow children to hear them numerous times, and are often quite short in length.

Children’s fiction that is written for older children, on the other hand, may deal with more complex ideas that older children can understand. These works may also repeat words, but often have a larger vocabulary throughout the book. This allows children who are learning to read to practice with words that are repeated and familiar, while still exposing them to a wide range of words. These works of children’s fiction often still have pictures, though there may be more words than pictures, and are typically meant as a gateway for children moving from picture books toward children’s literature and young adult books.

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Discussion Comments
By Mor — On Jan 22, 2012

One of the best things about the internet is that there are so many old books available on different websites which are absolutely free now, and you can just download them onto an e-reader and read them at whim.

When I was a kid I was obsessed with L. Frank Baum's books (he wrote the Wizard of Oz series) and I could never find his books in the library. It's been difficult to find them ever since, in fact, since book stores never seem to carry him very much. They want the more famous title, but not all the "lesser" books in the series.

But, his books can be found now on Project Gutenburg, so I can read as much of them as I like. Same for Louisa May Alcott (Little Women) and Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland) and so forth.

I think they are working on getting out an e-reader made specifically for children. I think if they do I will pre-load it with all these wonderful books and give it to my nephew so he can enjoy them as well.

By lluviaporos — On Jan 22, 2012

@pastanaga - I know what you mean! I told people I wanted to be a writer when I was a child and occasionally I would be given bits of children's fiction that a friend of the family had written.

It was really terrible. Even as a kid I could tell that (although I didn't know how to explain it to her).

A good children's book is going to give you a sense of strong characters, setting and plot with much fewer words than you might use for an adult's book. You also can't use the bigger, fancier words that might compensate for that.

Personally, I think one of the best children's storytellers will always be Roald Dahl. I adored his books when I was a child and read every one of them.

With his characters you always knew exactly who they were, even if they were a giant grasshopper.

By pastanaga — On Jan 21, 2012

Children's fiction is often treated as though it is less important, or less difficult to write than adult fiction.

In fact, I would argue the opposite is true. Children are much more difficult to please, and much more difficult to fool. If they don't like a book, they won't keep reading it past the first page because someone told them it gets good at some point.

And there are some fantastic children's books which have managed to do this for a long time. People are still reading Peter Pan to their children, for example.

Even picture books take skill and talent to write. They aren't something you can just do in an afternoon, particularly if you want them to rhyme.

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