Reader's Theatre with Family and Friends

Do you remember creating stories and putting on plays for family and friends? You probably wrote a simple story, created characters, designed some scenery, practiced, and then held a live performance. And you had a blast! What you didn't know was that you were building reading fluency and practicing reading expression by repeating readings of your script. This type of repeated reading is called reader's theatre. It's a fun way to learn, and it's not seen as a summer reading assignment or another chore to be completed. Reader's theatre is a great way to bridge the gap between word recognition and reading accuracy that both lead to better understanding of what is being read -- better known as comprehension.

Reader's theatre helps your child become more engaged in the text and helps them to better interpret what they are reading. It provides an exciting purpose for reading! By adding simple props or scenery to support a script, your child is making connections using vocabulary knowledge and prior experiences. Your child also has a chance to practice accuracy, expression, and quick word recognition with repeated readings.

Here are some steps to help your child engage in reader's theatre:
  • Share your idea of reader's theatre with a group of friends or family. Find those that want to put on a reader's theatre with you and begin the fun! You may want to make an evening of it in the neighborhood!
  • Choose a script. Many scripts can be found free online! Let your child're interest guide the process of choosing a script. The more interest, the more repeat readings. Share scripts with other friends and family that are trying out reader's theatre.
  • Take turns reading the script, with all members reading each role at least once. Then choose your role! Set a date to perform for a live audience of family and friends.
  • Practice! Practice! Practice! Read and re-read your part using fluency and expression.
  • Once you know your part well, begin to pull together simple props or scenery that you can find around your home. Share your ideas with others. Two or three or four minds are better than one!
  • Dress rehearsal! Practice with your props and perform like it is opening night.
  • Good luck and have fun with your performances!
How does a fun activity like reader's theatre help support literacy? Reader's theatre provides an engaging opportunity to do repeated readings of text. Repeated readings build fluency in reading. Fluency in reading requires your child to read words quickly, read them with accuracy, and read them with expression. A child who reads with fluency reads in a smooth one, varies inflection, and uses natural pauses in the text. Once a child is able to read with fluency, the support steps to comprehension begin. The child is no longer focusing on the make-up of words or the chunks that they recognize, focusing instead on the meaning of the words they read.

Primary teachers use this kind of repeated reading in the classroom to advance their students' reading levels. Some teachers have seen gains of one to three years depending on how much activity and interest is generated. What better way to bridge home and school in a fun activity?

Let your child's imagination run wild! Find a script, or sit down and write a script together to build writing fluency. Have fun with becoming the characters in the script. Be silly with your costumes. Be creative when you think of scenery. Remember this can all be done with items from around the home. It's simple and inexpensive ... but most of all fun!