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How to FAIL with Readers Theater: Busting Readers Theater Myths

publication date: Jun 24, 2023
author/source: Carol Montgomery

custom bugIn the midst of healing health challenges I think about our caring community a lot. In fact, last night I was reading a book: Thinking for a Change–Discovering the Power to Create, Communicate, and Lead. The author discusses how to "rethink our thinking"–focusing on diverse or dissimilar ideas. My mind wandered to Readers Theater and I wondered, "How can people fail with Readers Theater?" Hmmm...

You see, I'm a cheerleader for Readers Theater. How to FAIL with Readers Theater didn't fit my thinking. IS there a way to fail with Readers Theater? What do you think?

After chewing on that thought for several hours I think there's only ONE WAY to fail with Readers Theater. That is, to try to do Readers Theater with meaningless words–like attempting it in a foreign language or with a technical college textbook. But, even then you might succeed–depending on how the script is read.

What is the purpose of Readers Theater anyway?

If your purpose for choosing Readers Theater is to improve comprehension and fluency, then it makes sense that you'd want to choose appropriate scripts.

If your purpose for choosing Readers Theater is to build lifelong skills: reading, writing, listening, thinking, and speaking, then you'd still want to choose appropriate scripts.

If your purpose for choosing Readers Theater is to motivate students and have FUN reading aloud, then you'd still want to choose appropriate scripts.

Why would you NOT want to have appropriate scripts?

Fortunately, Readers Theater All Year provides a buffet of trustworthy scripts in several readability levels (grades K-7) for differentiated learning with a growing menu of titles–perfect for grades K-8, Special Ed, homeschool, and English Language Learners. (You may find more scripts elsewhere online.)

What questions (myths) surround Readers Theater?

1. Do I need props for successful Readers Theater? Nope!

2. Do I need to have my students memorize Readers Theater? No...but some students will do it naturally because of repeated practices.

3. Do I need a "set"–like in a play? Oh, no! The Readers Theater "set" is in the imagination!

4. Do I need a large group to enjoy Readers Theater? No, you can enjoy Readers Theater as a "partner play" with only 2 people.

5. Do I need a small group to enjoy Readers Theater? No again. Readers Theater can be enjoyed by an entire class via Choral Readers Theater.

6. Do I need microphones with Readers Theater? No, but if you want an audience to hear students reading it's often helpful to use microphones or use prerecorded voices–especially for puppet plays or for students wearing masks.

7. Do I NEED an audience for Readers Theater? No, but students are often more motivated if they know that they are rehearsing for an audience (e.g., classmates, family & friends, younger students, stuffed animals, other visitors).

8. Do I need a plan with a hook? Not exactly, although it may be helpful. Some teachers introduce Readers Theater as a "hook" to a unit study. Some teachers use new vocabulary words as a "hook." Some teachers just ask a question, "Would you like to enjoy some more Readers Theater?" Typically, students LOVE more.

9. Do I need to plan a follow-up activity after enjoying Readers Theater? Nope! Still, follow-up discussion questions, graphic organizers, and activities can broaden the experience for all. (NOTE: Our scripts usually include annotated curriculum links to simplify your lesson plans.)

10. Do I need to write my own scripts for Readers Theater? No, but you can. Also, students as young as first grade have been able to create their own Readers Theater scripts.

So, does Readers Theater sound too EASY? Maybe it is–IF you have cooperative students. The ONLY negatives that I can remember hearing from our caring teachers are...

* "Some of my older students refuse to do it." That would be a FAIL.

* "I don't have time for Readers Theater." That could be a FAIL.

One of the early members of our Script Buffet Club in Readers Theater All Year taught struggling students in a high school. She only had 8 students and believed that 4 of her students were in a local gang. She asked me to write a custom script on frogs because she LOVED frogs. Since I offer to write custom scripts sometimes for our paying members I adapted Aesop's fable, "The Frogs Who Wished for a King" to Readers Theater. (It happens to be in our Script Buffet for paying members and in our Aesop's Fable Collection.) The frog-loving teacher and her students LOVED the script! Readers Theater almost guarantees success for students and builds their confidence as well as their skills.

Don't have time for Readers Theater?

 One teacher wrote to me that she didn't have time for Readers Theater. I understand that feeling; however, Readers Theater can "sneak" into the curriculum in almost any subject. We have trustworthy scripts in health, history, social studies, science, nature, character building, literature (including humorous, poetry, and more)–all in our GROWING Script Buffet. What about enjoying weekly Readers Theater in a different subject each week?

Or, how about adding Readers Theater to your Reading block with a Readers Theater center or a rotating schedule for small group performances? Oh...there's so much more to share. Your future success with Readers Theater is almost guaranteed. Happy dance! What else do you need?

Write to me at with your questions or Readers Theater needs. I try to personally answer each connection because it's an honor to help teachers like you.




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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