Reader’s Theater is a wondrous thing! Students of all types of personalities love to perform in a smaller setting. Graphic novels are also appealing to students of all personalities.

Students love the illustrations, action and ease at which they can read them.

Important to realize, the dialogue balloons in graphic novels transform easily into dialogue in a reader’s theater script. 

Research

According to the International Literacy Association (2017), Reader’s Theater provides an opportunity for students to develop fluency. This occurs through multiple readings of text by using intonation, expressiveness, and inflection.

Equally important is the fact that Graphic Novels provide scaffolding for ELL students and struggling readers. GN’s also promote the development of visual literacy skills (Frey and Fisher, 2008). They are high interest books for all students.


If you want to improve fluency  then….

Transform a Graphic Novel into a Reader’s Theater script. 

It MAKES SENSE!

If you want to awaken enthusiasm in reading  then….

Transform a Graphic Novel into a Reader’s Theater script.

It MAKES SENSE!sound effect, graphic novel


A little background…

When I was in fifth grade, the entire 5th grade put on a play. My family had just moved from New York to Florida.

I was shy to begin with, needless to say, the only part I was cast for was a munchkin! (Yep…The Wizard of Oz!) I loved being part of the play (no matter how small my part was).

I don’t think many schools are having full theater productions anymore.

That being said, students need other opportunities to practice their fluency. Reader’s Theater takes the pressure of performing in front of a large audience off of the students. They still get to ‘show their stuff’ in a small group setting. They can have fun rereading without the pressure of a large audience.

You are probably asking yourself…

How do I get started???

  • First things first, you have to get an assortment of Graphic Novels. I have a suggested list of 36 Graphic Novels in my post about content specific companion texts.

I recently went to my local public library to check out their selection. Graphic Novels were mixed in with the other books. There was a distinguishable sticker on each of them to flag them as GN’s.

On the other hand, my school library has a section designated specifically for GN’s. This made it a little easier to find an assortment of GN’s.

Books with two or more characters are best. Some graphic novels have very little words or they just have one character. Stone Arch Books by Capstone have chapters and some even have a page at the beginning, introducing the characters.

  • Guide students in a discussion about “Parts of a Graphic Novel” using an Anchor Chart.

I glued some examples from the Sunday Comics to the chart ahead of time.

graphic novel-anchor chart

Parts of a Graphic Novel anchor chart without labels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You never know, it may inspire them to start reading them more often!

Comics are in color and the students

might already be familiar with reading them.


TIP: Label parts as you discuss them with the group.

GN’s can be a little confusing.


anchor chart-graphic novel

Labeled parts of a graphic novel anchor chart

This anchor chart is meant to guide you through the lesson.  I used www.getgraphic.org as a resource when obtaining information about reading graphic novels. Keep in mind, dialog balloons, thought balloons, and sound effects are read from left to right, from the top to the bottom.

 

  • Give students a chance to preview the books by looking at the front and back of the book and perusing the inside. The covers are always so appealing, it might be challenging for them to make a choice!

 

  • Select your groups. Students will get more reading practice if they are in pairs or even groups of four rather than a large group or class.  I like to put them in cooperative groups. Groups with varying ability levels of readers can take advantage of the varying levels of reading parts. Smaller groups are not as intimidating when students are reading aloud.

 

  • Students select and read their books. After the groups have chosen their book, it’s time to read!!
graphic organizer-story sequence-comprehension

Free Story Sequence graphic organizer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While they read, have students use this freebie Story Sequence graphic organizer to determine the main events in the story as they read.

Some books are longer than others. In those cases, you may want to have students focus on a few chapters only.

Let the Script Writing Begin!

  • Determine the characters who will be speaking. The freebie I provided for script writing has spaces for 6 characters in the box at the top. You may not need all of these. The little boxes in the “Character” section are for the first initial each of the characters’ names.
graphic organizer-script-reader's theater

A free Reader’s Theater script graphic organizer

When writing the speaking parts, just note the initial in each box. The boxes will make it easier to follow along with whose turn it is to speak. The students may have a longer text. In that case, additional copies of the second page may be required.


TIP: Include a narrator who reads the

descriptions of the setting, whenever needed.


 

  • Also, for fun…add the sound effects where appropriate! The graphic novels typically have them spread throughout the book. Everyone in the group can read these together.

Once all of the scripts are written, share behavior expectations for reading Reader’s Theater scripts in groups.

Reader’s Theater Behavior Review:

  • Read with expression and enthusiasm. (Punctuation is there for a reason!)
  • Speak clearly and loudly enough for others in the group to hear you.
  • Read like you are having a conversation.
  • It should be not too fast and not to slow, just right.
  • Pay attention to others as they read. Be ready for your turn.

As can be seen, transforming a Graphic Novel into a Reader’s Theater script does not need to be complicated. Taking it one step at a time makes the plan more manageable.

Get Down to Business!!

Reading the Reader’s Theater script is the part that the students like the best! They will be improving their comprehension and fluency without even realizing it! You, as a teacher, mom, or tutor, will be able to note their understanding through their expression (or lack of expression)!

Let them practice in their small groups and then perform for their class or maybe some reading buddies (young or old).

Additional Resources:

(This page contains affiliate links.)

I recently purchased a great resource book about teaching with graphic novels. Using Graphic Novels in the Classroom by Melissa Hart. Homeschool moms and teachers of kids in grades 4-8 can use these lessons. Hart provides an analysis of this genre. It is an affordable paperback with quality content. There is even a page that teaches first person vs. third person!

graphic novels

Using Graphic Novels in the Classroom

 

 

 

 

 

A website to turn to for clarification and ideas of graphic novel activities is www.getgraphic.org.

Because of the large amount of conversations in graphic novels, they are easily transformed into Reader’s Theater Scripts.

In the comment section below, please share some of the graphic novel activities that you use. I would love to know what has worked for you and your students!

I encourage you to share this with a friend!