I took a reader’s theater class in college and really enjoyed it. For someone who has a tough time memorizing, it was a great way to get dramatic experience without the stress of memorizing pages of scripts.
Doraine Bennett, a family friend, has written Reader’s Theater for Global Explorers, a resource filled with scripts for those who want to try reader’s theater while learning about neat locations. You can check out more on Amazon at the link above.
Here’s more from Doraine:
Readers theatre is a little like radio drama. It is an oral reading presentation that is more relaxed and informal than traditional theater. No sets or costumes are needed, and readers hold their scripts as they read. Narration provides a framework for the drama that occurs. Since there is little visible action, readers use their voices to interpret their lines and create the setting, characters, and action in the minds of the audience.
Students enjoy the opportunity to “become” the character they are reading. With practice and coaching, their reading skills improve. Participation in readers theatre gives students a purpose for repeated reading that translates to fluency. As students practice their scripts, they improve their communication skills by learning voice projection, intonation, inflection, and pronunciation.
Readers theatre stimulates the imagination. Readers must imagine the emotions their character experienced in order to decide how to speak their lines. Listeners imagine the scenes spoken before them. Performance is a team effort that helps students to learn to interact creatively with one another. If the script performed is fiction, students often want to read the entire book. If the script is nonfiction, they are drawn to learn more about a character or an event.
Readers Theatre is a relatively simple activity for teachers. No props or costumes are necessary. If they are used, they are minimal, suggestive elements. A scarf might suggest another culture. If girls are reading male roles, a simple prop can suggest gender, such as a hat or a tie. Students are not required to memorize their parts. The stage may be the front of the classroom. Readers may use music stands for their scripts or hold them. Chairs may be used to group readers according to script directions, but readers may simply stand at the front of the room. Readers theatre can be as simple or as elaborate as you and your students wish to make it. It may be performed for the class or you may decide to invite an audience. If you have a few minutes at the end of a lesson, you may pull out a readers theatre script and have students perform it impromptu.
The scripts in this book are divided into sections based on the areas of the world where exploration occurred. Many of the explorers visited additional areas of the globe, but I have chosen one aspect of their journeys for each script. Scripts may be used throughout the year as you touch different areas of curriculum.
At the end of each script, extension exercises incorporate cross-curricular tie-ins for multiple modalities. Extension activities may be assigned to the classroom, to the group of readers, or to an individual.