Thousands of students take standardized reading tests every year and many fail them. With the current legislation of No Child Left Behind, it is expected that the number of students that fail will continue to grow (Valencia & Buly, 2010). As we become a society where standardized tests drive the curriculum, the love of reading and the motivation to read has decreased. Students have begun to see reading as a chore, not a joy. My study showed that the joy and motivation to read does not need to be sidelined for true reading improvement and mastery to occur. 

If we want our students to be fluent readers we need to look beyond textbooks and standardized testing. Children will learn to read using current practices, but what’s lacking are the motivational factors that encourage the love of reading as a lifelong endeavor. Children today spend hours using electronic toys rather than picking up a good book and reading. Yet, books encourage us to use our imagination and take us to places we may never see. This is valuable, and if educators want to make reading relevant, it must be presented in a way where children understand the value and need to read.

For students to truly value reading, it needs to be relevant and engaging. Reader’s Theater provides an avenue to encourage reading. They are not just reading to each other, but they are reading with each other to perform for an audience. The knowledge that they will present to an authentic audience is a strong motivator for reading and rereading. While implementing Reader’s Theater can seem overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. Start small, incorporate one script, and watch the magic unfold.

Also important for successfully implementing Reader’s Theater, is listening to the feedback you receive from your students. This was powerful. When the students knew I was listening and acting on their reflections and concerns, motivation increased. Listening and hearing what your students have to say, about any part of the curriculum, will lead the teacher down a path where students bloom and know that their voice matters.

As educators know, one size does not fit all students. We need to understand that despite pacing guides and standards-driven reading instruction, our greatest priority should be to help all our students become fluent , confident, and joyful readers. The only way to ensure this is through providing rich reading instruction that meets the needs of the learner and motivates them to want to read. Reader’s Theater is the perfect avenue and should be considered at all levels.