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Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. : "I Have A Dream"

publication date: Jan 5, 2011
author/source: Carol Montgomery

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. :  "I Have A Dream"

We're trying to get copyright permission for this free Readers Theater script based on the powerful speech by Dr. Martin Luther King:  "I Have a Dream."  Apparently it is NOT in public domain as we thought.  Until we get permission you may try to adapt his speech to your own Readers Theater script.  Why?  This powerful, life-changing speech is often glossed over.  Readers Theater forces students to read, reread, and orally interpret the passionate words in this speech. 

How to Write a Script for Readers Theater

from Dr. Martin Luther King's Speech: 

"I Have a Dream"

Here are brief instructions in how to creatively adapt Dr. Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech for Readers Theater:

1.  Go to
     “One Stop Source” for MLK online.  This site apparently is licensed to offer all of Dr. Martin Luther King's material, including the text, audio, and video for the "I Have a Dream" speech.  Listen to the video of the speech and find the text.

2.  Select the part(s) of the speech you want to highlight--IF you are not doing the entire speech.  I chose the section after he set his notes down which includes the lyrics to "My Country 'Tis of Thee."

3.  Start with a narrator or two to give a flavor of the setting of the speech.

4.  Figure out how many parts you want in your script.

5.  Divide the speech up into parts.  (Besides the narrators I called them MLK 1, MLK 2...)

6.  Decide if you want a chorus or group of voices to emphasize any words or phrases.  Add them, if desired.

7.  Read the script aloud when you are done.  Change parts as needed.

8.  Let students experience the privilege of hearing the speech as passionately presented by Dr. Martin Luther King on video BEFORE you do the Readers Theater script.  Your script is to reinforce, not replace his speech. 

9.  Follow-up with critical thinking questions.  (You may use Bloom's Taxonomy of Learning to help.  Wikipedia may have a good explanation here:
You will want the section on the cognitive domain.)  

Readers Theater All Year™ LLC builds leaders and creators for positive influence through an inexpensive, easy, flexible system.  Readers Theater All Year™ LLC curriculum services provides a caring community for using and creating Readers Theater scripts for families, classrooms, homeschools, camps, and drama clubs.

Praise from Teachers

...Keep doing what you are doing.  There are not enough quality scripts available for children and teens.  So many are inappropriate from a parent's perspective.  As a teacher I want to also build character and integrity while I teach a subject.  Why can't drama build up, inspire and be thought provoking?...Anyway, keep doing what you're doing...we need all the help we can get!
Jen H., Drama teacher

> ...I have been teaching for 35 years. RT has been part of my education journey for the majority of that time. Initially my experience with it was as a performance genre in the Drama Curriculum. Now I use it across the curriculum - a wonderful high motivation strategy in the language program - particularly reading - and so much more as you would know. I was drawn to your 'community' by the idea of leadership... I think what you're doing is wonderful..."
Graham B. Former primary teacher (now a Visual Art and Drama specialist)

Readers Theater All Year is the most comprehensive collection of Readers Theater scripts and resources I have found on the internet!...Thank you Carol for your leadership and vision and for making Readers Theater so accessible for teachers and parents.
Daniel Fiore, Elementary teacher/author What They Have Taught Me

I found the free readers theater online scripts, teaching tips, and curriculum teleseminars at Readers Theater All Year very inspirational to me. I used the Twelve Days of Christmas...Vacation script in my ESOL classes before Christmas break and my students all enjoyed it..
Lily T. Teacher (English for Speakers of Other Languages)

"> ..We did Squanto's Squash for the family on Thanksgiving and [my sons] participated and loved it. I am so excited about making this a major part of homeschooling. What a great way to learn!
Bethany P. Homeschooling Mom

> our script "The Earth Day Hen and Friends" I've used this! The kids love it. Thank you for sharing...It's just right for all levels in the class...Your free scripts are wonderful!...They learn so much from drama and reader's theatre...I see the shy ones gain confidence as they read. Fluency and prosody increases with reader's theatre...
Angela D., 3rd grade teacher

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