A bildungsroman is a story about a character who "comes of age," or who "grows up" psychologically during the course of the story. The character physically gets older as the action occurs, but in a bildungsroman, the character loses his or her innocence and grows up mentally and psychologically due to what happens in the story.
The word bildungsroman is a German word meaning "formation novel."
Examples of Bildungsroman Novels
1. To Kill a Mockingbird-Scout grows up due to her experiences with racism and prejudice.
2. Gone with the Wind-The debutant Scarlett O'Hara comes of age during the Civil War, and her experiences with hardship and hunger change her forever.
3. The Catcher in the Rye-Holden Caulfield grows up via his experience of spending 3 days in New York City after being expelled from school.
4. The Secret Life of Bees-Lily Owens comes of age in the segregated South as she also works to understand her mother's life, and her own guilt over the untimely death of her mother.
5. Bless Me, Ultima-Antonio grows up when the "curandera" Ultima comes to stay with his family and he comes to a new understanding of his heritage.
6. The Harry Potter Series-Over the course of the series, Harry grows and matures psychologically, as he comes to understand his purpose in the battle between good and evil.