Plays and Reader’s Theater
for Young Readers to Build FLUENCY and COMPREHENSION

Plays and reader’s theater are exciting opportunities for students to engage in and creatively express their reading skills. The focus is to read the text with expression and to practice fluency attributes such as pause, enunciation and voice inflection. It provides repeated reading practice as readers prepare for sharing in a group or as a performance. As students hear themselves read and reread the script, confidence levels and enthusiasm rise. The group interaction needed for a script to flow smoothly requires student cooperation. The scripts promote listening skills as students follow along silently and listen for spoken cues. Young readers tend to read word by word, rather than in phrases or sentences. This tends to limit comprehension. As they learn the lines and read with expression, they naturally increase fluency and comprehend what they are reading.

Plays and reader’s theater can be as simple or elaborate as desired. Students may simply read the scripts in small groups, during guided reading or as center activities. They can perform for their classroom or for parents and the student body. Each student needs a script to avoid confusion and missed cues. It is a good idea to pre-teach difficult vocabulary. Most of the play scripts included are vocabulary controlled. To evenly distribute lines, divide large roles between two or more students and assign multiple small roles to one student. Change character names to accommodate gender.

Encourage vocabulary building and comprehension with the play scripts as well as classroom discussion on theatrical vocabulary listed below.

Reader’s theater may also include poetry, verse, or stories read individually or chorally. Several poems are included. Encourage students to write and ‘perform’ their own. The power of songs quickly encourages readers to follow along and become engaged in their reading. What’s more fun than ‘reading’ songs they already know or making up songs for tunes they know? “All Around Our School” is included and was made personal to our school. So, add and change the names to suit your school. Nursery rhymes are also READING and can be adapted as students creatively author their versions.

Remember, the most important purpose of plays and reader’s theater is to teach and practice fluent reading of printed text. Reader’s theater is not meant to be memorized. So, do not take a lot of time to prepare for or perform. Just enjoy!

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