What is Reader's Theater?

Endorsed by the

U.S. Department of Education

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

-Put Reading First (Second Edition)

Endorsed by the

National Reading Panel

"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

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.

Reader's Theater Methodology

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. 

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. 


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. 


Reader's Theater gives students an outlet for creative expression and a safe platform for building reading confidence, which translates into success in many other areas of their lives.

Playbooks Roleplay Reader® stories/scripts with the unique format of color-coded dialogue and easier and harder roles in the same story provide the most advanced and effective form of Reader's Theater. 

Putting on a single theatrical play in a student environment can require a great deal of planning, preparation, and practice, and it may only provide a spotlight for a handful of students. Reader’s Theater, on the other hand, is easy to implement on a daily or weekly basis and provides a balanced platform for "all students to shine."


Strong reading and comprehension skills are the cornerstones of a successful educational experience. Reader’s Theater is a well-known fluency building strategy that engages and entertains students while they learn and improve their skills. Reader’s Theater is an approved method of "Repeated Guided Oral Reading," and is a research-based method of reading instruction.

Playbooks® motivate students to read with expression which rapidly builds their reading fluency.

Repeated Guided Oral Reading

Research shows four repeated readings sufficiently improve reading fluency. Most traditional texts cannot 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.

Social interactive role-play reading and reading with expression are the key ingredients for successful reading enrichment in any school program. Reader's Theater combines these two ingredients and is easy to implement.