Reader's theater is one of the ways I use to involve students in reading aloud. We "perform" by reading scripts that were created from stories we've read. Currently, my class is practicing this art form with a book I read aloud several days ago - Snowflake Bentley.
We don't use any props or costumes in reader's theater, and children do not memorize scripts. They simply read aloud with a purpose - to tell a story together. The goal is to enhance both reading skills and confidence. My favorite part, however, is how active each reader must be - they cannot drift off or be a passive observer when they have a script in their hands and need to read along so they know when it is their turn.
Readers theater motivates reluctant readers and provides fluent readers a chance to hone their skills - using vocal expression to create drama, appropriate volume, and so on. Most importantly, it give many opportunities for re-reading something - which is a key factor in developing fluency. Without fluency, there is little comprehension. Simply re-reading the script several times - to prepare perhaps for a performance for the kindergarten class - increases understanding.
I like to do reader's theater with Snowflake Bentley in particular because it is a great story about perseverance. So many children struggle with not being able to be successful the first time they try something. Willie Bentley - a real person - tried and failed so many times to photograph snowflakes. He worked his whole life to do so, and fought through so many discouraging moments. He is an ideal for the children to look up to, as they often want to quit right away if something doesn't come easily.
After our first rehearsal (which was amazing, and will get better), we made beautiful snowflakes for our windows. This was a real-life example of something that doesn't come immediately to every person - some struggled with the folding bit, others found the scissors uncooperative. Eventually, though, we have windows full or beautiful snowflakes for us to enjoy - and we are hoping they will be a harbinger of snow!