Why You Should Use Readers Theater in the High School English Class

Why you should use Readers Theater in the high school classroom

What is Readers Theater?

Readers Theater is readers reading a script adapted from literature, and the audience picturing the action from hearing the script being read aloud. It requires no sets, costumes, props, or memorized lines.

Scholastic.com

Benefits of Using Readers Theater in the Classroom or Library?

Readers Theater helps to….

  • develop fluency through repeated exposure to text.
  • increase comprehension.
  • integrate reading, writing, speaking, listening in an authentic context.
  • engage students.
  • increase reading motivation.
  • create confidence and improve the self-image of students.
  • provide a real purpose for reading.
  • provide opportunities for cooperative learning.

Whole class reading strategy

As a high school English teacher, I am always looking for fun and engaging activities to use with my student that help them develop their comprehension and communication skills.


Like many teachers, I had noticed that if I assigned reading for students to do outside of class, only a portion of the students would actually have completed the assignment and then even less comprehended what they read.

That is when I decided that the majority of the text that we would study would be read in class. This ensured that all students had completed the reading and gave opportunity to go over sections that were challenging. It allowed modeling of questioning while reading, since I would stop and ask questions as we read.

This strategy worked great! Students comprehension increased and there was a great deal more engagement because ALL students read the text and was able to comment on it.

This strategy is wonderful and effective, but ….

When reading aloud in class, either the teacher ends up doing all the reading, or the students took turns reading sections. There are many advantages when the teacher reads aloud. First, the teacher models good reading skills. The teacher also knows when to pause, stop and regulate their voice based on context clues. This makes listening to the story more interesting. Also, the teacher normally stops and ask focused questions while reading which allows the students a deeper access to the text. Unfortunately, sometimes it gets monotonous and becomes tiresome to the teacher reading the same text over and over, all day long.

When students read, it gives them an opportunity to practice public speaking and reading with expression. The problem arises in the fact that many students are not use to reading aloud and they struggle reading this way. They stumble over difficult words and don’t read with fluency, which makes it difficult for the students listening to follow along. Some students even refuse to read aloud in class because they fear being embarrassed for making a reading mistake.

So, how does Readers Theater solve this problem?

Readers theater solves this problem by taking the burden off the teacher putting the onus on the students.

The students take over the reading process and due to the differing lengths of reading parts, students can be assigned roles based on their reading skills.

Students are assigned a reading part and then those students read their assigned lines while the rest of the class actively listens. This strategy allows the students to develop their reading and speaking skills while the teacher is able to to assess individual students and their reading ability.

Good readers can be given bigger parts, while students who stumble can read smaller roles of one or two lines. (Even reluctant readers can be convinced to read one or two lines.) This allows all students to practice at their skill level without making it obvious that they have differing degrees of literacy levels.

When assigning parts:

  • Ask for volunteers first. (I do have kids fight over parts!)
  • Make sure all students read a part. This may mean changing reading roles each day
  • Encourage but don’t force students to read.

Readers Theater Builds Classroom Community

This is the best result of this strategy! I noticed that students became more comfortable and respectful with each other over time. Students became less distracted and more engaged. They even request more Readers Theater activities.

If you are interested in using Readers Theater in your classroom check out these resources in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

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