Too Many Zucchinis!

story by Ellie Royce , illustrated by Cheryl Orsini

Learning Intention:

I am learning how to develop criteria for establishing my personal preferences for literature so that I can engage more successfully in wide reading.

Success Criteria:

  • I can identify the genres of literature that I like and dislike.
  • I can select my favourite texts and explain the reasons why I enjoy them.
  • I can use criteria to carefully and consciously evaluate my enjoyment of a text during wide reading.

Essential Knowledge:

More information about how student preference may be linked to an author’s distinctive style of writing can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Style.

More information about developing and testing the strength of ideas can be found in the English Textual Concepts video Argument.

Before reading, survey students by asking them to rank their favourite book genres. Mentimeter, interactive presentation software, will allow you to display the survey results. Example genres include:

  • Realistic fiction
  • Historical fiction
  • Fairytales
  • Science fiction
  • Fantasy
  • Mystery
  • Horror
  • Humour

Next, ask students to list the best five books that they have ever read. Give students the scope to choose from picture books, short stories and novels. Instruct students to match their chosen books with a genre. Students then evaluate whether they have correctly ranked their favourite book genres, or whether their ranking needs to be revised.

NB: If a student is having difficultly listing their favourite books, or is a reluctant reader, provide a list of books read in class, or discuss films or television shows that they have enjoyed.

Finally, ask students to research the characteristics of their top three genres. For example, key characteristics of the fantasy genre include unrealistic elements, mythical beasts / talking animals, dangerous quests. From their list of characteristics, students devise a criterion of the features of texts that they enjoy. The criteria should include six to ten separate criteria.

Prior to reading ‘Too Many Zucchinis’ explain to students that this text is part of the realistic fiction genre which contains the following characteristics:

  • Takes place in the present or very recent past.
  • Characters are involved in events that could happen.
  • Characters live in places that are real or could be real.
  • Characters experience and solve problems in a realistic way.
  • Contains a moral that is relevant to our everyday life.

After reading the ‘Too Many Zucchinis’ ask students to provide an example of elements in the story that demonstrate each characteristic. For example, the story is told in a present-day apartment complex and the problem, too many zucchinis, and the solution, to share the zucchinis with the neighbouring apartments are both realistic.

Ask students to decide whether they enjoyed or disliked the story. Then, ask them to present a short argument on why they thought the story was enjoyable or not. Remind them that their criteria will help them to develop their argument.

A student who enjoys realistic fiction might write their argument like this: I really enjoyed this story. It contained a very realistic problem. My family often grow too many zucchinis and I know how boring it is to have the same dinner every night. I really liked how the problem was solved because I could also imagine sharing our zucchinis with the neighbours and getting other yummy food in return.

In contrast, a student who enjoys fantasy might frame their argument as follows: I did not really enjoy this story. I like stories that occur in a made-up setting with mythical creatures, magic and the battle between good and evil. I thought that this story was well written, but the events were too realistic, and I did not find them exciting.

Extension: Before reading the other stories in this issue, provide students with information about each story’s genre and its characteristics. Ask students to predict how much they will enjoy the story as a pre-reading task. After reading, ask students to evaluate their enjoyment of the story using their personal criteria and write an argument explaining their level of enjoyment.

The other stories in this issue are:

  1. Jamie’s Experiment (fantasy with a realistic setting)
  2. Reggie Roars (realistic, but with a fantastical lion as the main character)