In a traditional dramatic play, actors memorize their lines from a script performing in costume on a stage complete with sets and props. Readers Theater dramatic presentations are in many ways like radio plays. In a Readers Theater production, performers stand in place onstage, reading their lines from a script, using their voices to heighten comedy and drama; costumes and sets are limited or nonexistent. Readers Theater productions became popular during and after World War II when financial resources to produce plays were limited.

Click on a topic or scroll down to discover all our Readers Theater resources.

Readers Theater in Education

Watch a Readers Theater Performance

Write and Produce Your Own Readers Theater Productions

Perform Readers Theater Using Scripts by Susan Cooper, Grace Lin, and Katherine Paterson

Readers Theater in Education

Educators have embraced Readers Theater as a compelling literacy and literature art form that not only enhances young people’s reading skills, but also builds young people’s critical and creative thinking skills, especially when young people create their own Readers Theater scripts based on books, personal stories, and current events. A 1999 study by Strecker, Roser, and Martinez showed that second graders who participated in Readers Theater productions on a regular basis, made, on average, more than a year’s growth in reading. Readers Theater motivates young people to read and write more; it is a learning activity that is both interesting and fun.

Watch a Readers Theater Performance

The NCBLA, in partnership with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, presented a Children’s “Literary Lights” Readers Theater presentation at the 2013 National Book Festival. Participants included former National Ambassadors for Young People’s Literature Katherine Paterson and Jon Scieszka; Chairman Emeritus of Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) Lynda Johnson Robb as Cowboy; President and CEO of RIF Carol Rasco as Octopus; award-winning authors Susan Cooper and Grace Lin; and NCBLA President and Executive Director Mary Brigid Barrett.

The Cowboy and Octopus costumes in the Readers Theater presentation pictured above were designed and constructed by costume and set designer Elizabeth Barrett Groth. To see more of Elizabeth’s work, visit

Write and Produce Your Own Readers Theater Productions

Readers Theater productions can be fun and humorous, dramatic and serious, based on fiction or nonfiction books, current events, and personal stories. They can be performed in classrooms, camps, Boys and Girls Centers, YMCAs, backyard decks, or family living rooms.

To print our Readers Theater Education Resource Guide, which provides instructions for helping kids, teens, and adults write and produce their own Readers Theater productions, click here.

Perform Readers Theater Using Scripts
by Susan Cooper, Grace Lin, and Katherine Paterson

Engage young people in Readers Theater using scripts written by authors Katherine Paterson, Susan Cooper, and Grace Lin! The following scripts were written for the Children’s Literary Lights Readers Theater performance at the 2013 Library of Congress National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. The performance was created and presented by the NCBLA in partnership with the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

Click each title to download and then print each Readers Theater script.

Susan Cooper’s King of Shadows

Grace Lin’s “The Story of the Old Sage” from her novel Starry River of the Sky

Katherine Paterson’s Short Story “The Handmaid of the Lord” which is included in her collection A Stubborn Sweetness and Other Stories for the Christmas Season

The Exquisite Corpse Adventure Readers Theater Production of Episode 27 “Over Easy” by Katherine Paterson