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Children’s Book Formats

I’ve had some requests for simple definitions of each of the common children’s book formats, from board books to easy readers to graphic novels for juveniles. I thought it might be useful for other libraries too.

Children’s Book Formats: From Board Books to Graphic Novels

Fiction = Imaginary story, not true

In the CIP (Cataloging in Process) information, a fiction book will have either <Fic>, <E>, or nothing (no Dewey Number).

Nonfiction = True story, factual

In the CIP information, a nonfiction book will have a Dewey Decimal Number indicating its subject area.


Children’s Book Formats:

Board books:

  • Books with “board” pages
  • Generally 5 – 10 pages
  • Some picture books are being republished as board books. They are longer.
  • Meant to be chewed on (or read by the adult to the child)


happy hippo where is babys bellybutton smile

Picture books:

  • 32 – 48 pages
  • Illustrations and text work together to tell the story
  • Fiction or nonfiction
  • Generally square or large rectangles
  • Meant to be read by an adult to a child



Easy Readers:

  • 32 – 64 pages
  • Illustrated, but not necessarily on every page
  • Illustrations are meant to help child decode text
  • Fiction or nonfiction
  • Generally small rectangles
  • Meant to be read by the child
  • Used for learning to read
  • Often publishers assign reading levels


im a frog biscuit wants to play mr putter and tabby catch the cold

Juvenile Fiction:

  • Also considered novels
  • Can have some illustrations, but mainly at the beginning of a chapter
  • Illustrations do not significantly add to the understanding of the book
  • Meant to be read by the child
  • Generally small rectangles
  • 64 + pages
  • Spans broad age range (from fluent reading at 2nd/3rd grade till interest moves to teen books)


just ella midwifes apprentice among the hidden

Juvenile Nonfiction:

  • Can be as short as 32 pages, but normally longer
  • Often much more text on a page than in either picture books or easy readers
  • Informational
  • Meant to be read by the child, but can also be read by parent to a non-literate child
  • Spans broad age range (from preschool till interest moves to teen books)
  • Often illustrated with photographs, charts, graphs
  • Can be in any format (picture book, easy reader, etc.)


train train travel going by train

Juvenile Graphic Novels:

  • Generally 32 – 64 pages (although some are considerably longer)
  • Multiple panel illustrations on every page
  • Text is delivered in word balloons
  • Fiction or nonfiction (however, NCKLS catalogs fiction graphic novels under the Dewey Number 741.5 which is the Dewey for the format)
  • Spans broad age range (from independent reader till interest moves to teen books)


owly tiny titans babysitters club

Here’s a PDF copy if anyone needs it: Children’s Book Formats.

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