Reader's Theater is Research-Based

“Repeated Guided Oral Reading” shown to
improve reading fluency and comprehension


"Repeated and monitored oral reading most effectively improves reading fluency and overall reading achievement."

-Put Reading First (Second Edition)


"Fluency is the crucial bridge between word recognition and comprehension. And repeated oral readings are a key method for building fluency in all students."

-Teaching Children to Read


"Word recognition and reading comprehension improves 27% when text is presented in color compared to bold text, and 35% when presented in color compared to contrasting fonts"

Reader's Theater Methodology is an approved method of repeated guided oral reading!

Science of Reading: Reader's Theater

Research has shown that Reader's Theater can significantly improve reading proficiency and comprehension, especially for struggling readers. The Science of Reading is a multidisciplinary field that encompasses cognitive psychology, linguistics, neuroscience, and education. The Science of Reading aims to understand the complex cognitive processes involved in reading and identify effective strategies for teaching reading skills to young learners.

The Science of Reading identifies five essential components that are crucial for reading development: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension. Reader’s Theater can impact each of these areas.

  • Fluency: Reader's Theater requires students to read aloud in a dramatic and expressive way, which helps improve their fluency. The scripts are written with emphasis on the tone, rhythm, and intonation of the text. This helps students develop their fluency and oral communication skills. Fluency is the ability to read smoothly and quickly, with proper intonation and expression. This skill is crucial for comprehension and enjoyment of reading.
  • Vocabulary: Reader's Theater exposes students to a wide range of vocabulary and encourages them to use new words in context. The scripts often include challenging words and phrases, which require students to look up the meanings and understand how to use them in the context of the script. This helps students develop their vocabulary and comprehension skills.
  • Comprehension: Reader's Theater requires students to read a script and understand the context and meaning of the words. This promotes comprehension and helps students develop critical thinking skills.
  • Phonics: Reader's Theater involves the use of phonics, which is the relationship between sounds and letters. By reading aloud from a script, students practice phonics and develop their ability to decode words. 
  • Phonemic awareness: Reader's Theater helps students develop phonemic awareness, which is the ability to identify and manipulate individual sounds in words. The scripts are designed to be read aloud, which requires students to pay close attention to the sounds and pronunciation of words. This helps students develop their phonemic awareness skills, which are essential for learning to read and spell.


Reader's Theater has been studied as an effective method for improving reading fluency and comprehension, aligning with the principles of the Science of Reading. Here are some key studies and their outcomes that demonstrate the benefits of Reader's Theater:

  1. Martinez, M., Roser, N. L., & Strecker, S. I Never Thought I Could Be a Star: A Reader’s Theater Ticket to Reading Fluency. - This study focused on second-grade students who practiced Reader's Theater scripts for 30 minutes a day over ten weeks. The results showed that students who used Reader's Theater gained 17 words per minute in reading speed, twice that of the control group. Additionally, the experimental group demonstrated twice the progress in comprehension and overall reading compared to the control group.
  2. Morgan, S. & Lyon, G. R. A Study of Instructional Effectiveness in a Statewide Early Reading First Professional Development Program. - This study examined the use of "Repeated Guided Oral Reading," which includes Reader's Theater, for junior high students over a six-month period. The findings revealed an 11-month gain in comprehension skills on a standardized test.
  3. Armbruster, B. B. Put Reading First: The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read. - Dr. Bonnie B. Armbruster, in this article, recommends Reader's Theater as a method for students to practice orally rereading text. The article emphasizes the importance of modeling fluent reading for struggling students and using Reader's Theater to expose lower-level readers to higher-level reading.
  4. Hooks, T. & Jones, B. The Importance of Automaticity and Fluency for Efficient Reading Comprehension. - This study underscores the significance of fluency for comprehension and recommends having students read words grouped into sentences that sound like natural speech. Reader's Theater, with its complete character dialogue, aligns with this approach to teaching.
  5. Scholastic Instructor Article: "The Power of Reader’s Theater" - This article features a fourth-grade teacher's success story with Reader's Theater. Teacher Lorraine Griffith found that after using Reader's Theater for ten weeks, each student gained a full grade level in reading ability, and after one year, the students had gained three grade levels. It also discusses the emotional benefits of Reader's Theater, such as increased student confidence and participation.
  6. The National Reading Panel. Teaching Children to Read: An Evidence-Based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading and Its Implications for Reading Instruction. - The National Reading Panel conducted an extensive study on various reading methods, including "Repeated Guided Oral Reading." Their analysis of 16 primary studies and 21 additional studies found that guided repeated oral reading procedures, which may include Reader's Theater, significantly improved word recognition, fluency, and comprehension across different grade levels. (See study at National Reading Panel - Teaching Children to Read: An Evidence-Based Assessment of the Scientific Research Literature on Reading and Its Implications for Reading Instruction ( The findings of the National Reading Panel are also supported by other studies, including Professor of Education Dr. Timothy Rasinski’s research, explained in numerous texts including his book, The Fluent Reader.

These studies collectively provide strong evidence that Reader's Theater, as a component of "Repeated Guided Oral Reading," is an effective approach for enhancing reading fluency and comprehension, aligning with the principles of the Science of Reading.

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Additionally, according to a Loyola University study, word recognition and reading comprehension improves 27% when text is presented in color compared to bold text, and 35% when presented in color compared to contrasting fonts. Multi-leveled and colorized Reader’s Theater is an improved form of Reader’s Theater that maximizes students’ learning, allowing students of varying reading abilities to practice and improve together. 

In conclusion, multi-leveled and colorized Reader’s Theater is a research-supported method of improving reading fluency.It is a recommended form of “Repeated Guided Oral Reading” and studies have shown that its use results in dramatic grade-level gains in reading and comprehension skills. Multi-leveled Reader’s Theater provides modeling of fluent reading for struggling readers, makes repeated reading easy and fun, and even improves student participation and confidence. Because reading the dialogue of a story character is so much fun, students are engaged in the activity and are excited to read the text aloud over and over, improving their fluency with every reading. 

Reader's Theater Methodology Is a Research-Based and Approved Method of Teaching Reading Fluency and Comprehension, Meeting Over 50 Common Core Standards for English Language Arts, Literacy, and Most State Language Arts Standards!

Reader's Theater provides readers with a desired and legitimate reason to re-read text and to practice fluency. Reader's Theater also promotes cooperative interaction with peers and makes the reading task appealing.

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