Reader's theater is a strategy for developing reading fluency. It involves children in oral reading through reading parts in scripts. In using this strategy, students do not need to memorize their part; they need only to reread it several times, thus developing their fluency skills. The best reader's theater scripts include lots of dialogue.
|When to use:||Before reading||During reading||After reading|
|How to use:||Individually||With small groups||Whole class setting|
More fluency strategies
Why use reader's theater?
- It promotes fluency.
- It helps readers learn to read aloud with expression.
- It helps build reading confidence.
How to use reader's theater
- Choose a story that can be divided into parts, or character. Tips on choosing scripts >
- Assign reading parts to each child.
- Ask students to read their scripts orally for practice.
- Have students read assigned parts to the audience.
Watch: Reader's Theater
Reading aloud from a script that has been adapted from a favorite book is a fun and motivating approach to instruction in fluency and expression. See the lesson plan.
Reader's theater lesson plans (with scripts):
Reader's theater scripts:
This example demonstrates a reader's theater of the book Tacky the Penguin.
Teachers can use reader's theater as an instructional technique for mathematical word problems. This example could be used for a reader's theater about 100's day and the concept of 100.
This reader's theater example "Dinosaur Land" can be used when teaching students about dinosaurs.
Here are reader's theater scripts about America in varying reading levels.
For second language learners, students of varying reading skill, students with learning disabilities, and younger learners
- Use easier scripts with fewer words for younger or struggling readers.
- Write the script (or the student's part of the script) with print that is easy to read i.e. larger or in preferred font. Supply Braille scripts when needed.
- Give the student their part in advance. Encourage them to practice at home with their parents
- Have students read parts together.
- Allow advanced students to write parts of the script.
- When assigning roles, be sensitive to students' individual needs. Assign roles accordingly; provide extra, individual practice if needed.
See the research that supports this strategy
Bafile, C. (2005). Reader's Theater: Giving Students a Reason to Read Aloud.
Prescott, J. (2003). The Power of Reader's Theater.
Children's books to use with this strategy
Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices
These poems introduce various insects and their lives; ideal for sharing aloud and for relating to informational books on insects.
You Read to Me, I'll Read to You: Very Short Stories to Read Together
Rhyming tales written for two voices makes an ideal — and humorous — introduction to readers' theater. Well known fairy tales have been adapted, reorganized and reinvigorated with lively language and sprightly illustrations, worthy of many dramatizations.