Reader’s Theater: Everything You Need to Know

This is an act or an entire setting that has the dramatization of a text or the place where the text is orally presented. The process involves a “script” that the students read based on who gets which part of the script to read aloud. Reader’s theater scripts don’t need costumes, memorization, props, special lighting, or blocking. They just need the students to reread their assigned scripts multiple times, which helps develop their fluency.

Any classroom or library can act as the setting for a reader’s theater. Students can either sit or stand in their allotted seats or be asked to form a semi-circle, where they take turns to read aloud their assigned scripts.

Choosing an appropriate reader’s theater script is a task that needs careful screening. Boring stories or scripts should be given a miss. Instead, scripts or stories that have lots of dialogues or involve dramatic presentations should be given preference. The key is to find stories or scripts that the students will find interesting to read aloud with expression, comprehension, fluency, and joy. 

Once the teachers finalize the script, they just need to give their students a photocopy of it, allot a section to each of them, and have them read those sections of the script aloud and act it out. The focus should be on the students reading their assigned sections of the script with gestures and expressive voices. By using reader’s theater, teachers can make comprehending the script fun and meaningful for their students.

Since reader’s theater doesn’t involve any costumes, props, or memorization, students don’t feel overwhelmed or at risk while getting involved. Instead, even the most introverted or shy kid can enjoy the procedure and may blossom, while becoming confident in social interactions with peers and developing a strong sense of community. Since reader’s theater gives the students an adequate opportunity to practice before they read aloud their respective scripts in front of an audience, struggling readers can also participate as they aren’t put on the spot.

When using reader’s theater for the first time, teachers should start small and slow. They should give the students enough time to make them feel at ease in the performance mode. If the teachers find a script with has too many scenes, sections, or characters, they can trim it down by eliminating the ones they feel unimportant and won’t affect the overall story. Since reader’s theater scripts aren’t sacrosanct, teachers can mold them as they deem fit if such changes work better for their students.

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