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5 Simple Steps on How to Adapt Beverly Cleary Books to Readers Theater Scripts

publication date: Mar 27, 2021
author/source: Carol Montgomery
Bug thumbnailBeverly Cleary, beloved children's book author, just passed away March 25, 2021, at the age of 104.  I recently reread several books by her.  She wrote about real life including many stories from her own childhood.  I remember her sharing in one book that a little boy basically asked her, "Why aren't there any books about boys like me?"  She decided to help because she understood the need for more children's books.

Since Cleary was raised on a farm in a small town where there was no library.  Her mother knew that a library was important so she arranged for a library to be set up in a small room above the local bank.  Beverly's mother planned to be the librarian and arranged for the state to donate some books.  That's where Beverly learned to love books. But, when her family moved, Beverly was dismayed to discover that she was in the lowest reading group!  Still, that gave her a heart for struggling readers.

Beverly Cleary was an overcomer and by the third grade had blossomed as a reader.  She loved books.  And, eventually her school librarian suggested that she should write for boys and girls when she grew up. According to the About page on her website, "The idea appealed to her, and she decided that someday she would write the books she longed to read but was unable to find on the library shelves: funny stories about her neighborhood and the sort of children she knew. And so Ramona Quimby, Henry Huggins, Ellen Tebbits, and her other beloved characters were born."

How to Adapt Beverly Cleary Books to Readers Theater

Motivate further reading of Beverly Cleary's books by introducing students to story excerpts adapted to Readers Theater. Beverly Cleary wrote chapter books for children. So, here's how to adapt them to Readers Theater, but copyright laws prevent you from selling the scripts:

1. Select a favorite book that you want your students to consider (e.g., "Ribsy," "The Mouse and the Motorcycle"...).

2. Choose one chapter in the book and select an exciting story or event in that chapter that has lots of dialogue in it.

3. Adapt your selection to a Readers Theater format with narration going to 1-2 narrators and dialogue to the characters.

4. End your Readers Theater script at a cliff-hanging part so students will WANT to read the book to discover the rest of the story. (Optional: Create a series of 3 scripts to complete a full chapter and encourage students to read the book for more.)

5. Encourage students to create their own Readers Theater scripts from Beverly Cleary's books (or other books) by using this same process for creative BOOK SHARING. 

Choose short passages for students to adapt to Readers Theater. Picture books like "Frog and Toad" can also work well. But, if you want a really short lesson, just let your students adapt jokes or riddles to Readers Theater. Then, enjoy the performances!

Readers Theater All Year™ LLC builds leaders and creators for positive influence through an inexpensive, easy, flexible system.  Readers Theater All Year™ LLC curriculum services provides a caring community for using and creating Readers Theater scripts for families, classrooms, homeschools, camps, and drama clubs.

Praise from Teachers

...Keep doing what you are doing.  There are not enough quality scripts available for children and teens.  So many are inappropriate from a parent's perspective.  As a teacher I want to also build character and integrity while I teach a subject.  Why can't drama build up, inspire and be thought provoking?...Anyway, keep doing what you're doing...we need all the help we can get!
Jen H., Drama teacher

> ...I have been teaching for 35 years. RT has been part of my education journey for the majority of that time. Initially my experience with it was as a performance genre in the Drama Curriculum. Now I use it across the curriculum - a wonderful high motivation strategy in the language program - particularly reading - and so much more as you would know. I was drawn to your 'community' by the idea of leadership... I think what you're doing is wonderful..."
Graham B. Former primary teacher (now a Visual Art and Drama specialist)

Readers Theater All Year is the most comprehensive collection of Readers Theater scripts and resources I have found on the internet!...Thank you Carol for your leadership and vision and for making Readers Theater so accessible for teachers and parents.
Daniel Fiore, Elementary teacher/author What They Have Taught Me

I found the free readers theater online scripts, teaching tips, and curriculum teleseminars at Readers Theater All Year very inspirational to me. I used the Twelve Days of Christmas...Vacation script in my ESOL classes before Christmas break and my students all enjoyed it..
Lily T. Teacher (English for Speakers of Other Languages)

"> ..We did Squanto's Squash for the family on Thanksgiving and [my sons] participated and loved it. I am so excited about making this a major part of homeschooling. What a great way to learn!
Bethany P. Homeschooling Mom

> our script "The Earth Day Hen and Friends" I've used this! The kids love it. Thank you for sharing...It's just right for all levels in the class...Your free scripts are wonderful!...They learn so much from drama and reader's theatre...I see the shy ones gain confidence as they read. Fluency and prosody increases with reader's theatre...
Angela D., 3rd grade teacher

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