Readers’ Theater

Readers’ Theater (also spelled “Reader’s Theatre” or “Readers Theater”) is an activity in which students, while reading directly from scripts, are able to tell a story in a most entertaining form, without props, costumes, or sets.This is a reading activity, and students are not asked to memorize their lines. They are, however, encouraged to “ham it up” and use intonation and gestures appropriate to their characters and their characters’ words.

Readers’ Theater serves many useful functions:

  • It provides repeated reading practice—an important factor in building fluency. Repeated reading practice also improves students’ confidence in, and enthusiasm for reading. It’s an enjoyable change of pace from everyday practice sessions. My students love it! And so do we. Students are so thrilled at their newfound skill that they ask to perform for younger classes.
  • It’s a wonderful opportunity for children who are used to feelings of failure to provide expertise entertainment for others.

The Internet is a terrific source of entertaining scripts–and they’re often free! The ready availability of online resources allows for easy editing and personalization of individual scripts. I simply copy the script to my word processing program, adapt the script to my students’ needs, and print it up! (Of course, most scripts available online are intended only for educational, not commercial, use.)

We encourage you to try Readers’ Theater scripts with your students. Below you’ll find links to instructions and scripts that your students will enjoy.

Guides for Implementing Readers’ Theater

Reader’s Theater: A Quick Guide
More Tips from the Desk of Tim Rasinski

Readers on Stage: Tips for Reader’s Theater by Aaron Shepard
You’ll find detailed guides for scripting, staging, and reading from this authority on Reader’s Theater. Even more information can be found on Aaron Shepard’s RT Page.

Teacher’s Guide to Readers’ Theatre
Excerpted from “Readers Theatre in Elementary Classroom” and “Strategies for Reading: Readers Theatre in the Middle School” by Lois Walker.

Internet Resources for Conducting Readers Theatre
This article from the International Reading Association’s Reading Online contains a wealth of useful links to Readers Theater sites on the Internet. The author also gives an overview of Readers Theater and how it may enhance literacy learning. Internet sources for script writing, implementation and assessment are also provided.

Classroom Theater
Bruce Lansky describes Readers Theater and shows how performers and audiences will find this genre entertaining. Scripts and lesson plans are included.

Readers Theatre Strategies in the Middle and Junior High Classroom
Lois Walker

Introduction to Readers Theatre: A Guide to Classroom Performance
Gerald Lee Ratliff

Use Plays to Teach Grammar in a Fun and Effective Way!
Ed Butts

Books With Readers’ Theater Scripts

Readers Theatre for Beginning Readers and Fifty Fabulous Fables: Beginning Readers Theatre
Suzanne I. Barchers

Stories on Stage: Scripts for Reader’s Theater
Aaron Shepard

Readers Theatre for Young Adults: Scripts and Script Development
Kathy Howard Latrobe

Mel White’s Readers Theatre Anthology

Fall Is Fabulous! Reader’s Theatre Scripts and Extended Activities
Super Science! Reader’s Theatre Scripts and Extended Activities
Lisa Blau

Tadpole Tales and Other Totally Terrific Treats for Readers Theatre
Frantic Frogs and Other Frankly Fractured Folktales for Readers Theatre
Silly Salamanders and Other Slightly Stupid Stuff for Readers Theatre
Science Fiction Readers Theatre
Anthony D. Fredericks

Readers’ Theater Scripts Online

Reading A-Z Reader’s Theater Scripts
are adapted from the their own downloadable leveled books. These Reader’s Theater scripts offer an easy and dynamic way to practice reading in coordination with books bearing the same characters and plot. You can download one Free Readers’ Theatre Script, in addition to more Reading A-Z samples by clicking here.

Readers Theatre Scripts from Lois Walker
Lois Walker is one of my favorite Readers’ Theater writers. The stories Walker presents are humorous and engaging, but I particularly enjoy the lyrical manner in which she writes them.

Readers Theater K-3
Scripts for students in grades K-3 are derived from poems, stories and chants. The scripts are engaging for primary students, but may be of little interest to older, remedial readers.
This resource site is part of a general site on emergent literacy, called Early Literacy.
Primary teachers will want to bookmark this site! In addition to the numerous Readers Theater scripts in the site, you’ll find comprehensive research and resources for teachers of emergent readers.

Reader’s Theater Scripts and Plays
I’ve used some of these scripts with my struggling readers. Students love “Dinosaur Land” in which the herbivore and the carnivore argue over who is the best. The numerous Readers Theater writers with works on this page include Aaron Shepard, Rick Swallow, and Stephen Kohner.

Readers Theatre Scripts of the Month
Lisa Blau’s scripts are particularly visually attractive and inviting. Blau adds a new script to this site each month.

Readers Theater/Language Arts Home Page for Teachers
Rick Swallow presents a wide variety of lighthearted and entertaining scripts. My students loved them!

Zoom Playhouse
Okay, Zoom Playhouse uses props and is more like creative drama than Readers Theater, but children will still benefit from the entertaining scripts used for this PBS show.

Scripts Brought to the Internet by Suzy Red
Flying Solo
Mister and Me
Nory Ryan’s Son
Traditional Rumpelstiltskin

Bad Wolf Press Musical Plays
View our wide selection on