Standard Lesson

Reading and Analyzing Multigenre Texts

6 - 8
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Four 50-minute sessions
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At their most basic, multigenre works are texts comprised of a variety of genres (poems, diary entries, letters, and so forth). At the same time, these works are highly sophisticated by the relationships among the sections of the text. To understand multigenre texts, students need an awareness of both their basic and sophisticated features. In this lesson plan, students develop a definition of multigenre texts by exploring a multigenre picture book, short chapter books, and, if desired, multigenre novels. They analyze several examples, identifying the different genres represented in each. Students brainstorm alone and together what they need as readers to read and understand multigenre texts successfully. Students share findings and discuss strategies needed to comprehend, and by extension to write, these texts.

Featured Resources

From Theory to Practice

Multigenre papers are at once simple and complex. At their most basic, multigenre papers are a simple collection of texts which rely on a variety of genres. Katie Wood Ray explains in Wondrous Words:

"These texts are structured in sections written in different genres. In a single text, writers may combine sections written as letters, journal entries, interview transcripts, memoirs, phone conversations, transcripts, homework assignments, encyclopedia entries, newspaper articles, refrigerator notes, poems, short stories, etc., etc. These texts read like a menagerie of writing, but together the various genres tell a single story or build a single idea." (158)

For students reading these texts, the challenge is to navigate among the different genres, understanding them individually as well as exploring the ways that they are connected and interrelated. "Becoming a reader is a gradual process-we grow in our ability to comprehend and interpret a wide range of reading materials by making appropriate choices from among the extensive range of skills and strategies that we develop over time," according to the NCTE Position Statement on Reading. Students need the opportunity to explore multigenre texts as a part of the process of their reading development to learn and explore the strategies that weave the many different kinds of texts into a single story or idea-especially before they attempt to write multigenre texts of their own.

Further Reading

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 2. Students read a wide range of literature from many periods in many genres to build an understanding of the many dimensions (e.g., philosophical, ethical, aesthetic) of human experience.
  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 6. Students apply knowledge of language structure, language conventions (e.g., spelling and punctuation), media techniques, figurative language, and genre to create, critique, and discuss print and nonprint texts.
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.
  • 12. Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Materials and Technology

  • Copies of Black and White by David Macaulay (Houghton Mifflin, 1990)

  • Additional multigenre texts for students to explore (see booklist for suggestions)




Student Objectives

Students will

  • read and analyze multigenre texts in order to form a working definition of the form.

  • identify the genres represented in a multigenre text.

  • discuss the connections among genres in a multigenre text.

  • analyze the reading strategies necessary to comprehend multigenre texts.

Session One

  1. Share David Macaulay's Black and White with your class. Allow students to explore the nontraditional text on their own, reading it in small groups.

  2. To structure the exploration, complete the Postmodern Picture Books in the Middle School lesson plan, which includes suggestions to structure small-group analysis of the book.

  3. Once students have had a chance to read and talk about Macaulay's book, share this quotation from his Caldecott Award Acceptance Speech, which is available from this page: Black and White "is designed to be viewed in its entirety, having its surface ‘read all over.' It is a book of and about connections—between pictures and between words and pictures."

  4. Ask students to consider how the book fulfills the role that Macaulay identifies in this quotation: How is the book about connections? How is it connected?

  5. Be sure that students see the joke in the quotation: What's black and white and red all over? How does the joke connect to the quotation?

Session Two

  1. Once students are comfortable with Macaulay's book and have analyzed the words and pictures completely, explain the Macaulay's book is a multigenre text.

  2. Begin your definition of the term by breaking the word into its two roots multi plus genre and discussing what the roots tell us about the word.

  3. Share a basic definition of a multigenre text with students: "Multigenre papers are made up of a collection of texts which rely on a variety of genres which are woven together and connected in a way which creates an overall impression or message." Invite students to customize the definition based on their reading.

  4. With a definition established, ask students to identify the genres that Macaulay uses.

  5. Pass out Possible Genres handout or point to a list of genres online, chosen from those listed in the Resources section. Invite students to add genres or details to the list based on their class explorations of genres.

  6. Divide students into small groups and ask the groups to identify the genres represented in the text using the Multigenre Text Analysis Chart or Interactive Multigenre Text Analysis Chart to record their observations. Encourage students to consider the role of the images as well as the words in the text as they identify the genres.

  7. Circulate among students as they work, offering feedback, support, and suggestions.

  8. Once students have had time to collect their ideas, gather the class and ask them to share their findings. List the information on the board or on chart paper, indicating both the genre and where it is represented in the text (e.g., jokes—the title of the book and the color the ink used to print it; pun-—the title of the "Udder Chaos" story).

  9. Ask students to draw conclusions about multigenre texts, adjusting the class's definition of multigenre texts to fit new observations.

Session Three

  1. Divide students into small groups, giving each group at least one additional multigenre text to explore.

  2. Instruct students to read the books and identify the genres included, recording their findings on the Multigenre Text Analysis Chart or Interactive Multigenre Text Analysis Chart.

  3. Once students have had a chance to explore the books, ask them to consider how these new texts compare to Macaulay's Black and White. If desired students can use the Interactive Venn Diagram to record the observations on the two texts.

  4. Circulate among students as they work, offering feedback, support, and suggestions.

  5. Bring students together and ask them to share basic details about their texts, including the genres represented in their text and the story or overall idea that the genres combine to establish.

  6. Revisit the class definition of multigenre texts and make revisions and additions to fit the new texts that students have explored.

Session Four

  1. Explain that during this class session, students will discuss the reading strategies that work well with multigenre texts.

  2. Divide students into small groups and ask groups to consider the following scenario:
    Imagine that someone who has never read a multigenre text asks you for advice on how to read a multigenre book? What advice would you give the person? What tips could you provide to help the person understand the text?
    If students have difficulty imagining the scenario, you might suggest that they imagine the strategies that they would use if they were to read a new multigenre text. Ask students to consider where they'd start, what they'd look for, and so forth.

  3. Ask students to compile their list of strategies on chart paper so that they can be shared easily with the class.

  4. Circulate among students as they work, offering feedback, support, and suggestions.

  5. After students have compiled their lists, ask them to post their list of tips.

  6. Once all groups have posted their ideas, bring students together and and discuss their advice. Highlight places where similar advice appears on more than one list, and encourage students to provide examples from the texts that they have read that support how their tips are effective.

  7. Conclude the lesson, by creating a shared class list of strategies, based on the ideas in all of the group lists. See the extensions below for additional options.


  • Students can create posters or bookmarks for the library which share strategies for reading multigenre texts. Bookmarks can be tucked in the pocket of multigenre books or placed in the books, near the beginning of the text.

  • Students can apply the strategies that they've gathered to longer multigenre works, such as Avi's Nothing But the Truth. As students read the novel, extend the activities from this lesson, asking students to chart the genres in the text, to revisit and revise their definition of multigenre texts, and to sharpen and extend their list of tips.

  • If students will be writing their own multigenre texts, ask them to discuss what makes a multigenre text successful. Based on their list of reading strategies, ask students to consider what advice they'd give an author who was about to write a multigenre text, compiling their tips as a list for class reference. As students move to writing their own texts, they can return to this list. Consider the Weaving the Multigenre Web lesson plan as a structured option for writing multigenre texts in small groups.

Student Assessment / Reflections

Frame your response to students’ work according to the following chart. Assessment of students’ work should focus on the reading strategies that students demonstrate and can be rather informal, based on anecdotal notetaking and kidwatching. Use the observations in concert with the suggestions below to continue instruction until students are ready to proceed to the next activity—whether creating bookmarks, reading additional multigenre texts, or writing original multigenre works of their own.

CATEGORY 4 3 2 1
Identification of Genres Accurately identifies each of the genres in the text. Accurately identifies most of the genres represented in the text. Identifies some of the genres in the text but identification is incomplete or not fully detailed. Has difficulty identifying the genres in the text.
If students are unable to identify the genres, determine whether the challenge lies in the fact that they are unfamiliar with the particular genre. If your students have not explored the characteristics of a genre, they will naturally have difficulty identifying the genre in the multigenre text. Take the opportunity to explore the genre independent of the multigenre text so that students will be able to identify it in the future. Additionally, you might ask students to consider strategies they can use when they are unable to determine the genre of a particular text. Perhaps your class can construct a sort of flowchart, for instance, that helps them narrow the choices.

If students cannot see the switch from one genre to the next, spend time reading the text aloud or in small groups, using think-aloud protocols to help students see the thought process behind identifying the change from one genre to another.

Connections Among Genres Accurately explains how each section and its genre is related to the overall story or idea of the multigenre text. Accurately explains how most sections are related to the overall story or idea of the multigenre text but cannot identify each genre’s relationship to the text. Accurately explains how some sections and their genres are related to the overall story or idea of the multigenre text. Has difficulty relating sections and genres to the overall story or idea of the multigenre text.
If students have difficulty relating the sections and genres to the overarching idea of the text, help students relate new information and genres in these texts to what they have already read through active reading strategies. Encourage students to ask questions as they read, including questions about how the sections that they read relate to those that they have already read. Just as important, ask students to predict what will happen next, to look for emerging patterns. Use think-aloud protocols to demonstrate the process of making connections. Additionally, charting the sections of the story as a class can help students see the various pieces more clearly—with a map of the sections and their characteristics available, the connections among the parts of the story may be more obvious.


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