Free Scripts For Readers Theater – At American Library Association (ALA) conferences, librarians can expect popular authors like M.T. Anderson, Shannon Hale, Linda Sue Park and Eric Rohman talk about their latest book. But a few years ago I noticed that these four composers shared the stage in a way I had never seen before. They did not talk about their books, but acted them out: they read scripts adapted from their novels and spoke as if they were actors in a play. Moderator/host Elizabeth Poe called it “readers’ theater.”
I was thrilled and promised to repeat this in my library – the children presented the books as a group. For the past seven years I have done just that. The children performed everything from Maurice Sendak’s works
- 1 Free Scripts For Readers Theater
- 2 The Twelve Days Of Christmas
- 3 Ways To Use Readers’ Theater To Build Fluency [+ Free Script]
- 4 Why You Need Readers’ Theater In 1st Grade
- 5 Reader’s Theater In The Classroom
Free Scripts For Readers Theater
Readers’ Theater is fun, and it’s also gained attention from teachers, who have noted its connection to everything from the Common Core Standards to increased literacy and self-esteem. It even helped turn non-readers into avid readers.
The Twelve Days Of Christmas
Children at the Sachem Public Library compare the book and screenplay for the movie Squids Will Be Quids by John Schieska and Lynn Smith (above); Practice (bottom middle); and performance (bottom).
Readers’ Theater, a shared lived experience, has a very different dynamic than reading a book. Small changes in language, combined with facial and body gestures, move the story forward and make it come alive. Readers’ Theater does not need to include costumes, props, music, or sound effects. It is cheap and easy to copy, that rare program that produces immeasurable results at minimal cost.
Librarians and teachers across the country are putting Readers’ Theater through their paces and seeing how it builds confidence, reading skills, and teamwork. At Sachem Public Library (Holbrook, NY) where I work, I do Readers’ Theater with fourth and fifth graders. Other librarians include community members, staff, and entire families.
“Readers’ Theater fosters camaraderie among children; it helps them build the skills needed to work as a team to achieve a common goal,” says Rebecca Pollino, youth services coordinator at the Cambria County Library in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where families with children of all ages participate. One-day Readers’ Theater event. During one session, the youngest preschooler…did not use a script, but relied on the older children performing to give him cues for his line. He not only mentored the younger child but also taught the older children driving lessons.
Free Readers Theater Scripts To Try In The Classroom
Reader’s Theater also increases awareness of plot and the nuances of language. “When students can act out a character — have dialogue — it’s a natural way for them to understand and begin to feel intuitively how the plot is developing,” says children’s author Margie Palatini, who offers free Readers’ Theater scripts for some of her books. On his website. “Dialogue becomes more than just funny words or phrases, it becomes meaningful language that drives the story and creates character.”
“There is something positive about getting kids out of their seats and putting them in front of an audience,” Palatini adds. “Natural communication skills and confidence are valuable assets our children need during the school years and beyond.”
I have seen many times how this builds confidence in children. In the first session of a program, I had one boy and 10 girls. “He’s never coming back,” I thought. But he did, and decided to read the script for Jack Prelutsky’s poem “Homework!” “Oh, homework!” He performed like a champ. “When we started reading together, it didn’t really matter” that he was the only boy, he said. His mother added happily: “I never thought I would see my son enjoy reading poetry.”
School librarians use Readers’ Theater to build strong community partnerships. Sue Abrahamson, youth librarian at the Waupaca (WI) Area Public Library, works with teachers looking for ways to improve a curriculum subject matter. Recommends age-appropriate picture books and writes scripts and stage plans with the teacher.
Ways To Use Readers’ Theater To Build Fluency [+ Free Script]
“Teachers tell us that at least one student they recognize as a struggling reader is always impressed, but when the Readers’ Theater show allows him or her to shine, the child’s confidence soars and he gets the next student a step to make reading more fun,” says Abrahamson.
Jim Jeske, children’s librarian at the San Francisco Public Library, uses Readers’ Theater scenarios to improve children’s reading and comprehension skills during his monthly visits to community schools. “We try to pay attention to the difference between exposition and dialogue – read one straight, give the other character,” he says. This “allows them to better hear and understand what is on the printed page.”
“Sometimes it takes a teacher and a good script to get kids…the attention and moment in the spotlight they so desperately need and deserve,” says Cynthia Rand, drama teacher at N.C. City Schools’ Newton-Conover School. Author Aaron Shepherd’s website
(Shepherd Publications, 2004). He gives the example of a quiet young boy who played the role of a “tough cowboy” in a Readers’ Theater text. “He was so sweet — so composed, so loud in his lines, so big in his walk, so clear in the expressions of his character.”
Why You Need Readers’ Theater In 1st Grade
“The Common Core standards emphasize teaching students who are prepared in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language skills,” says children’s literature consultant Judy Freeman with Carolyn Feller Bauer.
(ALA Publications, 2015). “Readers Theater is the closest thing to a silver bullet we have to help make this happen, and it doesn’t involve high-stakes tests or dig-and-kill worksheets. It’s so easy to implement that it’s a wonder it hasn’t become part of every classroom’s curriculum.”
It was recently designated as a core text for New York State’s Common Core Curriculum. “I’ve heard over and over again how much kids—even reluctant readers—enjoy working hard to perform scripts. Part of the magic comes from teamwork, which means peers support and encourage each student as they read. Shepard shares free Readers’ Theater scripts online, and I use her reading tips Her own with my kids. His site is also a reliable source for texts for large groups (up to 22 readers). “Peddler Polly and the Story Stealer” and “More Than a Match” are among her many funny and delightful gender-neutral offerings.
“The clever part is that kids don’t realize they’re doing something that’s good for them,” Freeman adds. They “practice reading aloud with expression, fluency, and comprehension, and the one thing that common standardized tests don’t measure—even though it’s the most important thing—is the sheer enjoyment of it.”
Partner Plays: Reader’s Theater Scripts For 2 Readers
At the Sachem Public Library, I limit my registration to 15 4th and 5th grade students at each event. Children present two scenarios: one in a small group and one as a whole.
I like to develop presentations in one-hour sessions over three consecutive days. In the first lesson, children form their own groups of two to five readers for a small group performance and I give them scenarios to choose from. We assign roles to the full text by pulling the names of the parts out of a hat (and switch later if the children don’t like their roles). I copy each child’s scripts and highlight them, and prepare a set and extras for myself in case the children forget their scripts on the day of the presentation.
I also create a playlist of speakers’ names and book titles. I put the texts in folders of tip sheets with suggestions such as: If you make a mistake, pretend you didn’t and keep working; Keep the text low enough so the audience can see your face; And the audience loves pork – passion!
In the second lesson, we will practice in the room where the children will perform. They practice introducing themselves, announcing the title of the text, and bowing. We talk about performing tricks and the kids encourage each other.
Reader’s Theater In The Classroom
Three o’clock is a show and family and friends are invited to watch. If the child does not attend, ask for a volunteer from among the children to read the additional part. I give a brief introduction and then the first group introduces themselves and the fun begins with all the unpredictability and rush of energy of a live performance. After the final reading, families gather for refreshments and lavish praise of the day’s young stars.
There are two ways to work with texts: have the children write them down or use pre-written letters. Poe, author
(ALA Publications, 2013) advocates a “bottom-up, reader-centered” approach, involving children in all aspects of the experience, rather than a top-down, theater-centered approach with pre-written scripts. A school library could be the perfect setting for Poe’s recommendations, for example, as the culmination of a Drop Everything and Read event or family reading initiative. In my experience at the public library, kids don’t always come to all the meetings they need to write their texts, so I usually use existing or assigned words. Some online sources for my texts include “Teaching Heart: Readers’ Theater Scripts and Plays” (teachingheart.net/readerstheater.htm) and “Timeless Teacher Stuff” (timelessteacherstuff.com).
Picture books and easy readers lend themselves easily to scenarios because they provide a short, complete story. Written by John Siska and Lynn Smith
Readers Theater Life Flight
(Walker, 2005) They were among the first I adapted. In addition to texts rich in dialogue with the spouses
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