Imagine reading activities like this with your kids:
The audience occupies two rows of mismatched folding chairs set up in the Jones’ backyard. Parents holding babies and toddlers face a makeshift stage framed by two floor lamps holding up an old shower curtain. “Ladies and gentlemen” comes a voice from behind the curtain. We now present a Reader’s Theatre production of “Little Red Riding Hood”.
The performers step out from behind the curtain holding paper scripts. One is wearing a red tablecloth draped on her head and around her shoulders. The others have handmade paper signs hanging around their necks with yarn which read Grandmother, Mother, Huntsman, Wolf, and Narrators 1-4. The nine children stand together on the stage and Narrator 1 begins to read “Once upon a time…”
What is Reader’s Theatre?
Reader’s Theatre, simply put, is a way of reading a book aloud as a group. Children from all reading levels can participate in this fun and educational activity. Putting on a neighborhood play doesn’t have to be a huge, overwhelming production that requires memorization and acting skills. Kids can get together during one afternoon and prepare a fantastic Reader’s Theatre.
A Reader’s Theatre can be as simple as a few siblings reading a script for their parents in the living room before bedtime. They can also be as elaborate as a neighborhood production involving children of all ages. Simple costumes can be worn and a set or stage can be made if the children want to be extra creative.
However simple or involved this ready activity is, the main focus remains the same.
Reading activities using Reader’s Theatre is a way for kids to:
1. Get excited about reading.
2. Practice reading aloud with fluency.
3. Have a non-threatening opportunity to practice speaking aloud in front of an audience.
4. Learn how to read using proper expression and emotion.
How does Reader’s Theatre work?
1. Choose a script or write a script using a favorite book. Each child participating will have a part to read from a script. There are pre-written Reader’s Theatre scripts available online at websites like teachingheart.net and timelessteacherstuff.com. For older children ages 11 and up, writing a script of their own can be a fun project as well.
2. Assign parts and characters to each child. Kids can create signs for each reader to wear so it is clear who is playing each part or character.
3. Each child should practice reading through their part many times. You should print out scripts for every reader and have each child highlight their own part on their script.
4. Once everyone is comfortable with their own part, it is time to practice reading through the script as a group. The more the children practice, the more comfortable everyone will be when it comes time to perform the Reader’s Theatre.
5. Children should practice using the proper tone of voice, volume and expression to match their character in the story. They may need some coaching from parents, a reading tutor or an older sibling.
6. Optional costumes and sets/stages can be created for the performance. These are fun projects for kids to work on during their extra time in the summer when school’s out.
7. Time to perform! Children can invite their parents to a neighborhood production of their Reader’s Theatre or choose to have a simple reading in the living room or at the dining room table.
Now it’s your turn to try a Reader’s Theatre!
A simple story and a few kids at home or a group of neighborhood kids are all it takes to do your own Reader’s Theatre!
Encourage your children to do a Reader’s Theatre of their favorite story. For young children, choose books that they can easily read through. For older children and adolescents, let them choose their favorite chapter from an intermediate or advanced book that can be adapted for Reader’s Theatre.
Your summer afternoon reading activity will now end like this:
The backyard is filled with applause as Narrator 4 pulls the shower curtain closed. Moments later the readers reappear on stage to take a bow, feeling proud for what they were able to accomplish in one educational, yet enjoyable and most memorable summer afternoon.