By Kitty Felde

We all played different roles in our lives – student, parent, worker bee, boss. It’s perhaps not as much fun as the role playing we did as kids when we could switch from astronaut to country western singer just by swapping helmets for hats.

Cathy Rodriguez trains teachers in technology for the L.A. County Office of Education. She says role playing was what created her love of books. Cathy’s parents would read books to her and her siblings, playing all the characters. It was a command performance, with demands to repeat the performance over and over again. Cathy says the performances continued in the backyard where the kids “would actually take on the characters ourselves and we would put on a play in the backyard and reenact the story as characters in the book. That’s what we did.”

The Iowa Reading Research Center says this sort of “reader’s theatre” can be an “excellent avenue” for practicing the mechanics of reading. Acting out a text helps a young reader recognize and pronounce words without error, to read those words without consciously thinking about the process, and to read them with “appropriate expression and phrasing.”

There are reader’s theater scripts you can use to read together on the Reading Rockets webpage as well as tips and a few videos. 

Tap into your days of playing pirates and princesses, and “play” with your kids. Just don’t tell them it’s a reading exercise. 

Kitty Felde is the author of “State of the Union: a Fina Mendoza Mystery” and hosts the Book Club for Kids podcast.

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