Reader’s Theatre is a strategy where a group of students reads a script after having rehearsed it. It is used to build reading fluency, so Reader’s Theatre does not involve the use of memorization, props, costumes or staging. Rather, students are encouraged to rehearse the script so that they perform it naturally.
Teachers, students or other experts on the topic can develop scripts for Reader’s Theatre. These scripts can define terms, provide review of a certain concept, explain difficult topics, or dispel misconceptions. The scripts could vary in length, but should be divided in such a way that students or groups of students can play certain parts, characters, or roles. This strategy can be used to integrate language arts with other curriculum areas. For example, Reader’s Theatre can be used to simultaneously bring science concepts to life while developing reading fluency.
I used this strategy during our grade 6 persuasive writing unit. The students had listened to a story called Hey, Little Ant and were working in small groups to decide if the bully in the story should squish the ant or set it free. When they were done developing their reasons, the class came back together to read the text aloud in the Reader’s Theatre style and the groups then tried to persuade the class of their opinion. It was a fun way to begin the consolidation phase of the lesson, and the students enjoyed the harmony of reading in synchronization!
Kinniburgh L, Shaw E. (2007). Building reading fluency in elementary science through reader’s theatre. Science Activities 44(1): 16-22.
Tippett C. “Reader’s Theatre.” (PED 3131 Course Notes).