How to Choose Parts in Readers’ Theater for Elementary Students

Readers’ Theater for elementary students is a way to get kids involved in a quick drama. It is a shared oral reading performance that requires minimal props and staging. Students in schools, scouting, or Sunday schools will often have access to readers’ theater scripts. When choosing parts, teachers and youth leaders can use the following successful strategy to avoid chaos and arguments over roles.

Step 1

Label scripts with each character name. Highlight that character’s part, so there is a designated, highlighted script for each character.

Distribute the scripts. Have kids look over the list of characters on the script. Read over the list of parts together.

Step 2

Have each child write his or her name on a popsicle stick or slip of paper. Place these names in a container, like a hat, a small bucket, or a brown bag with the sides rolled down.

Step 3

Stack the scripts in front of you. Choose names one by one from the container. Offer the first name chosen the first part on your stack of scripts.

Step 4

The child may accept the part, or may say “Pass.” If the child chooses to pass, put his or her stick back in the container. If the child accepts the part, give that person the script for that character.

Step 5

Once the parts are assigned, provide time for each person read his or her script silently first. This gives them a chance to know their part and gain confidence before being asked to read orally.

Step 6

Practice reading your readers’ theater out loud.

Tips and Warnings:

Have fun!

If the parts vary in length or reading difficulty, consider assigning them ahead of time, based on what you know about each child.

Consider changing names and genders of characters to fit the actors to avoid embarrassment.

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