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3 Quick Tips for Choosing Children's Literature for Writing Readers Theater

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

One of the teachers in our community just asked for a list of books that would be good to use to create Readers Theater scripts.  Unfortunately, I don't know all the children's books out there, so any list would be incomplete.  Yet, I do know "3 Quick Tips for Choosing Children's Literature for Writing..." your own Readers Theater scripts. Interested?  It's easy!  Here's the scoop:

   1.  Choose a book you like with plenty of dialogue to tell the story (or excerpt).  Picture books from children's literature often work well (e.g., Tacky the Penguin).

   2.  Choose a book with some narration.  Remember, you may have more than one narrator.

   3.  Choose a book with the number of characters or parts you want.  Remember, you may have some or all parts read chorally by a group (e.g., the Hunters in Tacky the Penguin). (That way it doesn't make any difference how many students and parts you have.)

Each character gets his/her own lines and the narrator(s) get the narrated parts. 

Easy, right?  But, you may also use an online search engine to look up Readers Theater scripts for children's literature.  You will probably find several scripts based on fairy tales, folk tales, fables, and fantasy.  You may even find a few based on children's literature! It really doesn't take too long to adapt a good story to Readers Theater.

IF the children's literature book is a chapter book (e.g., Frog and Toad), you will want to select only a portion of the book--maybe less than a chapter.  But, you would base your selection on the same three tips listed above. 

The reason teachers use Readers Theater based on real books is to encourage reading of the books.  However, I believe you may still encourage reading of the books if a Readers Theater script is similar to a piece of children's literature or a "take-off" from children's literature.

For example, Readers Theater All Year has a take-off of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" as "Goldy Socks and the Three Hares" (a free script).  The annotated curriculum links reference the original story for the students to read.  By comparing the two stories students will build more critical thinking skills than they would by simply reading the original tale as a book and then the exact same words as a Readers Theater script.

Another example is our script "This Little Piggy Tells Jokes" (in our Script Buffet Club for members).  Anyone who loves Charlotte's Web will enjoy "This Little Piggy Tells Jokes" because of the special talking pig and his fun friends.  In fact, the annotated curriculum links in this script also reference Charlotte's Web.  Thus, students not only will be encouraged to read Charlotte's Web, but also will build critical thinking skills comparing the two stories, if you choose.

Whatever you choose, don't look at adapting a piece of children's literature as work.  See yourself in an adventure in creativity!  Then, dive in and enjoy the experience.  You and your students will be delighted!  Guaranteed.

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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