Readers theatre (RT) was developed as an efficient and effective way to present literature in a dramatic presentation. Readers divide parts and read from a script. No memorization, costumes, blocking, or special lighting are needed. Scripts are held by the readers throughout the performance. Instead of acting out literature as in a play, the performers' goal is to read a script aloud effectively, enabling the audience to visualize the action. Performers bring the text alive by using voice, facial expressions, and some gestures.

RT allows readers the luxury of lingering over a story, acting it out many times so they come to understand all its nuances. Too often, children read a story and only understand it at its most superficial literal level. With RT we’re not just reading a story; we’re living it!

Our goal is to enhance students' reading skills and confidence by having them practice reading with a purpose. RT gives students a real reason to read aloud.

Characteristics of Readers Theatre:

  • Narration serves as the framework of dramatic presentation.
  • No full memorization. Scripts are used openly in performance.
  • No full stage sets. If used at all, sets are simple and suggestive. A stage is unnecessary.
  • No full costumes. If used at all, costumes are partial and suggestive, or neutral and uniform.
     

Features of Readers Theatre:

  • Peppy dialogue
  • A little action
  • Laugh-out-loud parts
  • Lively narration
  • Enough roles for everyone
     

Characteristics of an Effective Reader:

  • Reads with expression, proper emphasis, and clear enunciation, using his/her voice effectively to convey meaning.
  • Projects to the audience.
  • Is familiar with the part and able to read it fluently.
  • Paces himself/herself effectively.
  • Uses props, when employed, effectively (the script is a prop).
  • Demonstrates poise and self-confidence.
     

Educational Aspects of Readers Theatre:

  • Readers Theatre productions blend students' desire to perform with their need for oral reading practice. RT offers an entertaining and engaging means of improving fluency and enhancing comprehension.
  • An easy way to make dramatic changes in kids’ fluency, writing, listening, and social skills.
  • RT motivates reluctant readers and provides fluent readers the opportunity to explore genre and characterization.
  • In RT, there is no risk, because there's no memorization required. There's enough opportunity for practice, so struggling readers are not put on the spot. Shy students blossom and develop a strong sense of community.
  • RT has been found effective not only for language arts, but for social studies as well. Performing stories based on another culture is one of the best ways for students to become interested in and familiar with that culture.
  • Students gain improvement in vocabulary, comprehension and retention. Reading in a small group provides reading role models, which is also proven to improve reading skills in students. Research has shown that RT can improve reading fluency, word choice and comprehension. · Students become excited and enthusiastic about reading when they are presented with the opportunity to participate in Readers Theatre; however, they are great for all ages to participate in!