Krystyl Farmer Library Columns

Fact, Fiction, or something in between? by Krystyl Farmer

krystyl farmer          While working at the library, I have assisted many students who are taking part in a “40 book challenge” as assigned by their teacher. This activity originated in a book titled, “The Book Whisperer” by Donalyn Miller, and it has grown in popularity around the country. If you want to read her original intentions behind the 40 book challenge, you can borrow a copy of the book from a branch of the Heartland Library Cooperative. If all copies of the book are checked out, read her blog post:

If you are not familiar with the concept behind the 40 book challenge, in essence, it is a personal challenge to read books from many different genres to explore different types of literature. Students are expected to read a certain number of books from specific genres. How do you decide what genre a book is? I’m glad you asked! There are two main branches of literature, Fiction (Untrue) and Nonfiction (True). Within these two branches, there are many different types of literature.

In the Children’s Nonfiction collections of the library, you will find books about animals, science, crafting, social issues, history, places, poetry, and people. Nonfiction books about people are called biographies and autobiographies.

  • Autobiographies are written by a person about their own life.
  • Biographies are accounts of someone’s life written by another person.

In the Children’s Fiction collections of the library, you will find books about things that did not actually happen.The genres in this section include: realistic fiction, historical fiction, mysteries, science fiction, and fantasy, among others.

  • Realistic fiction stories could happen in real life, examples of these are Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Ivy & Bean, and Wonder.
  • Historical fiction stories feature made-up characters and events within a historical setting such as I Pledge Allegiance, Dear America Diaries, and Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.
  • Mystery books deal with solving a crime or secret problem that is unexplained. Examples of this genre are A to Z Mysteries, Tank and Fizz, Nikki Tesla and the Ferret-Proof Death Ray, and School Ship Tobermory.
  • Science fiction involves some aspect of potential science, either real or imagined and set in the future or on other planets. Sci-Fi books include Max Einstein: Rebels with a Cause, Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth, and Green boy.
  • Fantasy stories have strange or otherworldly settings or characters such as The Poison Jungle, Twice Magic, and The Chronicles of Narnia.

For a concise list of genres, visit The 40 book challenge will introduce your reader to new books, styles of writing, and they might discover they enjoy a genre they never thought they would.