Thursday, April 9, 2015

Massachusetts Reading Association: Science of Readers Theater Handout

What is Readers Theater (RT)?
RT is a reading activity that employs theatrical techniques without the hassle of props, costumes, or sets. Instead of memorizing lines, students read directly from scripts, using intonation, facial expressions, and gestures to create characters that transport the audience into the story.

Obvious Benefits of RT

·         Builds fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

·         Studies show gains carry over to new and unpracticed texts.

Additional Benefits of RT

      ·         Promotes cooperative interaction among students.
·         Improves listening and speaking skills.
·         Helps even the shyest students develop self-confidence when reading out loud.

Why Readers Theater Works
·         Children are natural performers and love using their imaginations
·         RT allows emergent, struggling, and more advanced readers to participate in the same performance with equal success.
·         It gives repetitive reading a purpose. They want to do well at the performance.

Adding Science to the Mix
·         Students are more likely to retain science concepts when they’re incorporated into a fun activity.
·         Students feels feel a connection to “their” creature, see the world from that animal’s POV
·         Students gain a deeper understanding of animal behaviors and lifestyles
·         Students learn how living things interact
·         Students become more aware of the roles plants and animals play in their environment.

Science-themed picture books that are well suited for RT adaptation:
Animals Asleep. Sneed Collard. (Illus. by Anik McGrory.) Houghton Mifflin, 2004.

Beneath the Sun. Melissa Stewart. (Illus. by Constance R. Bergum.) Peachtree, 2014.

Dig Wait Listen: A Desert Toad Tale. April Pulley Sayre. (Illus. by Barbara Bash) Greenwillow, 2001.
Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea. Steve Jenkins. Houghton Mifflin, 2009.

Feathers: Not Just for Flying. Melissa Stewart. (Illus. by Sarah S. Brannen) Charlesbridge, 2014.
Frog in a Bog. John Himmelman. Charlesbridge, 2004.

Home at Last: A Song of Migration. April Pulley Sayre. (Illus. by Alix Berenzy.) Holt. 1998.

How Many Ways Can You Catch a Fly? Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. Houghton Mifflin, 2008.
Move! Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. Houghton Mifflin, 2006.

No Monkeys, No Chocolate. Melissa Stewart and Allen Young. (Illus by Nicole Wong) Charlesbridge, 2013.

Rain, Rain, Rain Forest. Brenda Z. Guiberson. (Illus. by Steve Jenkins.) Holt, 2004.
A Rainbow of Animals. Melissa Stewart. Enslow, 2010.

Under the Snow. Melissa Stewart. (Illus. by Constance R. Bergum) Peachtree, 2009.

What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. Houghton Mifflin, 2003.
When Rain Falls. Melissa Stewart. (Illus. by Constance R. Bergum) Peachtree, 2008.

Where Are the Night Animals? Mary Ann Fraser. HarperCollins, 1999

Additional Resources
Readers Theater scripts on my website:

Stewart, Melissa. “Science Books + Readers Theater,” Science Books & Films. American Association for the Advancement of Science, Washington, D.C., May/June 2008. Internet page at:

Shepard, Aaron. “RT TIPS: A Guide to Reader’s Theater.” Internet page at:

Moran, Kelli Jo Kerry. “Nurturing Emergent Readers Through Readers Theater.” Early Childhood Education Journal, April 2006, pp. 317-323. 

The Power of Reader’s Theater: Instructor, January/February 2003, pp. 22-26, 82-84.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your ideas with us today at the Mass. Reading Association conference! So wonderful to see you again!
    ~Lesley :)