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Text Book Critique


Institute Book of Readers Theater


Written by William Adams


The Institute Book of Readers Theatre; A Practical Guide for School, Theater, and Community, by William Adams is a very user-friendly handbook for students and teachers, as well as any person who has any interest in Readers Theatre. The Forward to this textbook as well as the section entitled, “How To Use This Book” do a very specific job of outlining the book’s uses and purposes. Both sections explain quite well that Readers Theatre is a broad art and not only can it be applied to any educational subject matter, but it can also be used in other more therapeutic types of institutions. The “Pick and Choose” portion of the introduction instructs the reader very clearly about how to use the table of contents. The concept, I believe, is a very insightful one and makes the textbook a comprehensive source for any person using Readers Theatre for any of it’s many useful reasons. Having the section called “Part Two School” broken up into three main divisions and four subdivisions based on grade levels, helps the reader focus quickly on the specific grade level at hand instead of flipping through page after page trying to find something that suits the subject. Above and beyond having a break down of different grade levels, the book goes on with Part Three and Part Four. “Part Three Theater” and “Part Four Community” provide ample information and instruction on other widespread functions of Readers Theatre. It makes sense to separate these sections, as the purpose and practice of Readers Theatre in the classroom will most often be different than any kind of Readers Theatre in another setting.





Part one outlines script making, staging, and oral interpretation. Each section goes detailed step by detailed step with several examples demonstrating each point. It often not only explains that there are artistic choices to be made, but also provides information on why each works and what effect each creates. For instance, within the chapter on staging, there is a small section on focus. Here, the differences between onstage focus, offstage focus and audience focus are discussed and reasons for using each are explained.


I found each section of parts two, three and four, to be very appropriately written. The examples in the younger grade levels are clearly examples that a younger child would relate to and understand. As the grades progress naturally, so do the examples. For instance, the “Early Elementary School” section uses nursery rhymes like Hickory Dickory Dock. It also gives day-by-day teaching instructions and lessons plans for developing “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. The Middle School section moves on to examples that are more relevant to middle school students like the script called “Punctuation Marks!” and a more serious social subject of “Sexual Harassment”. Along with the plentiful script examples are a whole variety of helpful advice. Tips are given in the areas of humor, theme, movement, character and gender.


All in all, I found this book to be very comprehensive and user-friendly. It is entirely well written, very clear and very thorough. This book could easily be used by a teacher to aid in the instruction of a Readers Theatre class and/or to supplement teaching in any class at a pre-kindergarten to the university level. It would also be a helpful resource for a student in a Readers Theatre class.





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