Reader’s Theater

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

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

  1. Choose a story that can be divided into parts, or character. Tips on choosing scripts >
  2. Assign reading parts to each child.
  3. Ask students to read their scripts orally for practice.
  4. 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.

This video is published with permission from the Balanced Literacy Diet. See many more related how-to videos with lesson plans in the Reading Fluency and Expression section.

Collect resources

Language Arts

Reader's theater lesson plans (with scripts):

Reader's theater scripts:


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.

Social Studies

Here are reader's theater scripts about America in varying reading levels.

Differentiated instruction

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

Children's books to use with this strategy

Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices

Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices

By: Paul Fleischman
Genre: Poetry
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

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

You Read to Me, I'll Read to You: Very Short Stories to Read Together

By: Mary Ann Hoberman
Genre: Poetry
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

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.


Our students LOVE reader's theater. they cannot wait to be the next group working on a production. They practice in school and at home. We video tape the productions and share it with students/parents at the end of the year. We also use costumes whenever possible. Students are very engaged and reading fluency & comprehension is increased!

Thanks for suggesting the use of RT in math, too! Cross-curricular... great suggestion.

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"Once you learn to read, you will be forever free." — Frederick Douglass