Professor Jo Worthy's book Readers Theater for Building Fluency is subtitled "Strategies and Scripts for Making the Most of This Highly Effective, Motivating, and Research-Based Approach to Oral Reading." Whew! That's a mouthful of truth! As if that's not enough, the cover also boasts "Boosts Comprehension, Vocabulary, & Writing Skills." True again. So, how does she back up these bold claims? Ah...that's what this review covers.
Jo Worthy, Ph.D., spent a significant time researching Readers Theater and her references prove it. She has two pages of "Professional References Cited" which computes to 32 different articles--including journals such as Reading Research Quarterly and Journal of Reading. Since the book is copyrighted 2005 the professional references range from 1978 to 2004.
Don't let the author's research scare you, though. This is NOT a boring book without application. Professor Worthy writes the book because she wants "every teacher and student to have the opportunity to participate in Readers Theater" (p.9). Why is she so excited about Readers Theater? On page 9 she states, "In my years as an elementary and middle school teacher, a professor of reading methods in a teacher preparation program, and the mother of a resistant reader.... the single most motivating activity I have ever found is Readers Theater."
Professor Worthy's book, published by Scholastic, covers a wealth of practical information. Although she only has five chapters, she has designed the book to be useful for teachers. Chapters flow from benefits and "Why Readers Theater Is a Better Choice for Improving Fluency" in reading, to actually getting organized and performing Readers Theater. She even devotes an entire chapter to "Finding and Creating Scripts for Readers Theater."
In "Finding and Creating Scripts for Readers Theater" the author focuses on scripts based on published children's literature--books you may be able to find in your local or school library. In fact, she includes eight scripts from real books (fiction and non-fiction) in the appendix of the book as examples for teachers. Although the eight are part of the "greatest hits" of her collection, some of them I would choose not to use with students. (I think better literature is available.) Still, The Boy Who Cried Wolf by Freya Littledale and Los Tres Cerdos/The Three Pigs: Nacho, Tito, and Miguel by Bobbi Salinas are delightful discoveries in Readers Theater.
If you're looking for a book of scripts based on published children's literature for third through sixth grade you may want to supplement the scripts in this book. But, if you're looking for clear instructions and the validation of expert opinions and research on Readers Theater, then Readers Theater for Building Fluency may be for you. The text is extremely well-organized and includes black-and-white photos of students involved in Readers Theater. A few lesson plans scattered in the text makes it quite practical for newbies to learn about Readers Theater. Professor Worthy is a true cheerleader for Readers Theater and her book Readers Theater for Building Fluency packs an amazing amount of helpful information and motivation in 112 pages!