Definitions of TeachingBooks Classifications

To provide context, transparency, and insight into the classifications for every book title, booklist, award, and series, TeachingBooks provides the following definitions.

For related information, see the Collection Development Policy.

Grade levels are used to indicate the audience level based on the United States public school grade leveling system. TeachingBooks grade bands are intentionally broad and overlapping, with the understanding that the same text may be used in a variety of settings. We seek out professional reviews when they are available and other sources to determine grade levels.

The TeachingBooks Cultural Experiences collections identify titles which represent a diverse range of histories, cultures, experiences, and perspectives from groups that have often been excluded, misrepresented, or underrepresented in mainstream book publishing. We hope these collections are one reference point in your exploration of diversity in children's and young adult literature.

The collections below were selected by TeachingBooks librarians to highlight areas of customer interest, the availability of sufficient titles, and whether or not enough information is available about specific titles to classify them accurately.

When determining whether to assign a Cultural Experience to a title, TeachingBooks considers reviews, awards, publisher descriptions, historical significance, and/or the experiences and perspectives of the book creators. We recognize that most of these categories are based upon social constructs with borders that vary across cultures and shift throughout history.

These collections are not meant to include every book depicting a character from a certain group, but to help you find titles that offer meaningful inclusion of a culture or identity.


  • African (Global): Books focusing on the histories, cultures, experiences, and perspectives of people of African descent living anywhere in the world.
    • African: Books focusing on the histories, cultures, experiences, and perspectives of people of African descent living in Africa.
    • African American: Books focusing on the histories, cultures, experiences, and perspectives of people of African descent living in the United States and/or Canada.
  • American Indian: Books focusing on the histories, cultures, experiences, and perspectives of people who are American Indian, Native American, Inuit, Métis, First Nations, and/or part of nations commonly acknowledged as Indigenous or Aboriginal to the Americas and/or territory within the current United States borders.
  • Asian (Global): Books focusing on the histories, cultures, experiences, and perspectives of people of Asian descent living anywhere in the world.
    • Asian: Books focusing on the histories, cultures, experiences, and perspectives of people of Asian descent living in Asia.
    • Asian American: Books focusing on the histories, cultures, experiences, and perspectives of people of Asian descent living in the United States and/or Canada.
    • South Asian: Books focusing on the histories, cultures, experiences, and perspectives of people of South Asian descent living anywhere in the world.
  • Disability: Books focusing on the histories, cultures, experiences, and perspectives of people with disabilities, including physical or cognitive disabilities, chronic illnesses, neurodivergence, or some combination therein that creates long-term challenges to participating equitably in current mainstream society.
  • Gender: Books focusing on gender roles, identity, expression, equality, and/or equity.
    • Women / Girls: Books with significant cultural, social, or historical content about women and girls, including books that discuss gender equality and equity, different experiences and expressions of feminity and womanhood, specific feminist and/or womanist ideologies and movements, women in roles where they are under-represented, and discrimination against women.
    • Transgender / Non-Conforming: Books focusing on the histories, cultures, experiences, and perspectives of people whose gender, gender identity, and/or gender expression do not match the gender they were assigned at birth.
    • Men / Boys: Books with significant cultural, social, or historical content about men and boys, including books that discuss gender equality and equity, different experiences of masculinity and manhood, and men in roles where they are under-represented.
  • Immigrant / Refugee: Books focusing on the histories, cultures, experiences, and perspectives of immigrants and/or refugees and their families living anywhere in the world.
  • Jewish: Books focusing on the histories, cultures, experiences, and perspectives of people of Jewish heritage or faith.
  • Latino/a/e/x (Global): Books focusing on the histories, cultures, experiences, and perspectives of people of Latin American descent living anywhere in the world.
    • Latino (US / Canada): Books focusing on the histories, cultures, experiences, and perspectives of people of Latin American descent living in the United States and/or Canada.
    • Latino (Latin America): Books focusing on the histories, cultures, experiences, and perspectives of people of Latin American descent living in Mexico, Central America, South America and/or the Caribbean.
  • LGBTQ+: Books focusing on the histories, cultures, experiences, and perspectives of people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit, queer, questioning, intersex, nonbinary, demisexual, and/or asexual.
  • Middle Eastern: Books focusing on the histories, cultures, experiences, and perspectives of the peoples originating in the Arabian peninsula, the eastern coast of the Mediterranean, and/or the countries of Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, and Libya living anywhere in the world.
  • Multiracial / Mixed Race: Books focusing on histories, cultures, experiences, and perspectives of people who identify as multiracial, biracial, or mixed race.
  • Muslim: Books focusing on the histories, cultures, experiences, and perspectives of people of Muslim heritage or faith.
  • Pacific Islander / Oceania: Books focusing on the histories, cultures, experiences, and perspectives of people of Pacific Islander and/or Oceanian descent living anywhere in the world.

In assigning a curricular area to a title, TeachingBooks staff consider K-12 school curriculum topics and definitions. The curriculum labels are determined using subject headings from specific professional cataloging sources, publisher descriptions, and reviews from professional journals.

Curricular Areas utilized by TeachingBooks:

  • Art: Books about art or artists and/or about the concepts and tools related to the creation and/or understanding of the visual arts.
  • English Language Arts: Books that include stories, essays, poems, or plays; or that feature writing, writers, reading, or the alphabet.
  • French: Books with French or bilingual text, as well as books that feature Francophone cultures and experiences.
  • Health: Books on topics a health class may discuss, including drug use, human development, nutrition, birth/death, mental health, suicide, self-harm, and hygiene. Social Emotional Learning topics also fit in this category.
  • History: Books with significant historical information regarding specific eras, events, movements, figures, historians, or general theories of history.
  • Math: Books featuring mathematical concepts, including counting, shapes, numbers, arithmetic, geometry, algebra, time, money, and mathematicians.
  • Music: Books with significant content about music, musical instruments, or musicians (either professionals or amateurs). Books with text traditionally set to music are also included.
  • Physical Education: Books that feature physical fitness, activities, and games. This includes sports, dance, and athletes.
  • STEAM: Books concerning the application of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and/or Math, including design, medicine, inventions, computer science, and coding / programming. Makerspace and Digital Citizenship topics are also included in this area.
  • Science: Books about topics in the earth, life and physical sciences. Topics include biology, chemistry, physics, astronomy, plants, animals, environmental science/ecology, geology, and scientists.
  • Social Studies: Books featuring social studies, geography, and current events topics. This includes careers, politics, government, economics, cultures, travel, and social sciences.
  • Spanish: Books with Spanish or bilingual text as well as books that feature Spanish-speaking cultures and experiences.

Genre labels for titles are selected based on overall theme, setting, style, topic, and / or format. The labels are recognized and used by professional library organizations, publishers, and institutions that review books for children and teens. Titles often have overlapping themes, requiring multiple genres to be assigned, while some may not fit any of these genres.

Genres utilized by TeachingBooks:

  • Adventure: Books with stories that focus on action, quests, or epic journeys through geographical areas and/or time.
  • Beginning / Early Reader: Books intended for early readers, typically using large font size and rhythmic or repetitive vocabulary to build decoding and fluency skills.
  • Biography: Books with significant biographical information, including autobiographies and memoirs. May include fictional and narrative stories about historical figures.
  • Concept Book: Early learning books containing pictures that present a single object, a class of objects, or an abstract idea in concrete, understandable ways. Common topics include letters, colors, shapes, numbers, and emotions.
  • Drama: Books formatted as a play, script, musical, etc.
  • Fairy Tales/Folklore: Classic tellings and retellings of fables, fairy tales, tall tales, and legends.
  • Graphic Novels: Fiction or nonfiction books featuring narratives told through a combination of illustration and text, often formatted like comics with the use of frames, panels, and speech bubbles.
  • Historical Fiction: Books with stories that take place prior to the time of writing. Dialogue, social norms, and customs of the time period play a significant role in the story.
  • Holiday: Books that focus on holidays, observances, and birthdays. May include fiction or nonfiction text.
  • Horror: Books featuring "scary stories" intended to create a feeling of fear. May include ghosts, monsters, zombies, etc. as well as psychological horror.
  • Humor: Books featuring funny stories, humorous portrayals, riddles, and jokes intended to make the audience laugh.
  • Mystery: Books with characters involved in solving or finding the answer to a puzzling event, including murder mysteries, detective stories, true crime, etc.
  • Nonfiction: Books written for the purpose of sharing factual information or presenting a position, sometimes including a table of contents, diagrams, and other informational text elements.
  • Picture Book: Books with illustrations on every page spread in which the images form an essential part of the story or message. They are generally well-suited for sharing or presentation.
  • Poetry: Collections of poems, novels written in verse, song lyrics, and/or books where the text is a single poem. Does not necessarily include picture books written in rhyme.
  • Realistic Fiction: Fictional stories that focus on real life issues in settings contemporary to the time of writing. Does not include stories with anthropomorphised characters.
  • Romance: Books that focus on the development of a love story with an uplifting ending.
  • Science Fiction/Fantasy: Books featuring fantastical stories, including utopian/dystopian, magical realism, steampunk, alternate history, etc. Includes magic, creatures, or technologies not known to exist at the time of writing.
  • Sports: Fiction or nonfiction books in which sports or athletes play a significant role.

Titles on TeachingBooks may include both BISAC Subject Headings and Library of Congress Subject Headings. TeachingBooks does not assign subject headings to titles, but obtains them from Ingram Content Group and the Library of Congress.