What is Reader's Theater?

A Proven Method for Teaching Reading Fluency & Comprehension

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.

Building Reading Fluency

Reader's Theater is a method of reading a story aloud, like a play, without memorization, props, or a stage. Students are each assigned a character role and read their part with expression, meaning, and enthusiasm. It's best done in small, non-threatening groups of approximately 6 students so students can become practiced at their roles prior to reading/performing in front of a group or audience. 

Plays inherently come with built-in strategies to help students read better. The acting out of story dialogue compels readers to work more closely with the text to interpret and project meaning into the experience. As a result, students show improvement in vocabulary, comprehension, and retention. 

Repeated readings in multi-leveled small groups (high, medium, and low readers together) also provide the practice of "Repeated Guided Oral Reading" which is the only proven method of building reading fluency. 


Reader's Theater

Watch a 2 minute overview on Reader's Theater


"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!

There is an abundance of research supporting that “Repeated Guided Oral Reading” improves reading fluency and comprehension, especially when it includes reading role models. For a document summarizing several studies relating to Repeated Guided Oral Reading along with information as to how Reader's Theater fulfills National Reading Panel reading and fluency goals, click here. 

Research also shows four repeated readings sufficiently improve reading fluency. Most traditional texts can NOT hold students’ attention for up to four separate readings. Reader’s Theater truly engages students and is the most popular form of “repeated guided oral reading.” Reader’s Theater provides an easy-to-implement dramatic text that does not require memorization, props, or a stage.

Improved Vocabulary & Comprehension

Plays inherently come with built-in strategies to help students read better. The acting out of story dialogue compels readers to work more closely with the text to interpret and project meaning into the experience. As a result, students show improvement in vocabulary, comprehension, and retention. In addition, colorized text improves outcomes!

Reader's Theater meets nearly 50 objectives

Meets Common Core Standards

Reader's Theater meets nearly 50 objectives in the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy! Reference to drama is woven throughout the entire 66-page document, revealing Reader's Theater as applicable to sections addressing literature, language, fluency, and even writing. Per the elements in these standards, roleplay reading is an activity spanning every corner of the subject!

Educational progressives recognize the far-reaching benefits of plays and expressive reading opportunities such as Reader's Theater.

State Standards Met With Reader's Theater

As an educational tool, using the Reader's Theater Methodology can provide a dynamic and effective addition to the classroom that meets numerous educational standards. Teachers find that Reader's Theater methodology augments their existing instructional materials in a manner that allows children to increase skills while concurrently having fun. The concept of "enjoyment and entertainment" provides students with a needed diversion from existing instructional materials.

The shift in educational focus from "instructional" to "fun" is the very concept that enhances the student's ability to learn, gain new skills, and create a love of reading. The use of high quality Reader's Theater materials in the classroom stimulates a profound opportunity for students to increase their read-aloud skills and their desire to read.

Click HERE for a listing of Common Core standards met with Reader's Theater.

State Standards

Click below to see the Language Arts Standards that are met in your state when reading Playbooks® in the classroom.


A Proven Methodology For Teaching Reading Fluency & Comprehension

Reader’s Theater provides an easy-to-implement, fun, and engaging reading enrichment activity in the form of dramatic texts (scripts/plays/stories) that do not require memorization, props, or a stage. Scripts are written like plays with character dialogue, but also include narration (like stories) to explain to readers/listeners what’s happening in the story that the readers can’t hear or see. This narration is what eliminates the needs for props, stage, or sound effects. Children read aloud together in small groups with each assuming a different character role and bringing it to life with verbal and physical expression.

Learning in and through the arts can even help students overcome the obstacles of disadvantaged backgrounds. Reader’s Theater gives ALL students the opportunity to be creative which keeps them engaged for the entire reading activity. Putting on a theatrical play can be a tremendous amount of work and preparation for instructors and students, and typically only provides a spotlight for a handful of kids (usually those who already have the confidence or talent to read or perform in front of large groups). Conversely, Reader’s Theater provides a balanced platform for ALL students to shine with mostly balanced roles being read and re-read in small non-threatening groups.

In fact, struggling readers tend to be the best Reader’s Theater performers (when given a role they can read with accuracy and confidence) as they seem to have a better aptitude for creative and dramatic expression. Consequently, they typically end up being the biggest stars in this type of activity. Imagine now that you are a student that once was filled with anxiety at the thought of reading out loud and now you associate your reading with pride and confidence. Reader's Theater offers a life-changing opportunity for many struggling students in a way that captivates students’ interest and gives them a legitimate reason and desire to re-read the same text.

Role-play reading in a supportive environment helps to build confidence and self-esteem in children, strengthens oral communications skills in students of all reading levels, and helps to build or strengthen social/emotional bonds between members of a group. When children can read with success in front of their peers, their confidence and enthusiasm soar, and their reading and communication skills grow at a more rapid pace.

Drama, like poetry, sometimes gets neglected in the literature curriculum, yet it offers an abundance of opportunities for improved learning. Plays inherently come with built-in strategies to help students read better. Dramatic text offers opportunities for creativity and expression, and the acting out of story dialogue, even in a simple reading form, compels readers to work more closely with the text to interpret and project meaning into the shared reading experience. For these same reasons, Playbooks® also present enhanced opportunities for learning English as a second language (ESL/ELD).

Although designed to be read aloud like a play, reading a Playbook® is as simple as reading any other story, but a lot more fun, powerful, and effective. Students find security in having one color assigned to them and seem to take “ownership” in that color and its associated character. As a result, the stress of reading aloud in front of peers is greatly reduced, and students are quick to become deeply involved in the reading activity. Rather than simply decoding words and reciting sentences, readers become enthralled in the story, action, and events that make up the play. As a result, students come away from reading a Playbook® story with improved comprehension and retention.