________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV . . . . August 31, 2007


HIP Readers’ Theatre Plays.

Paul Kropp & Lori Jamison.
Toronto, ON: HIP Publishing, 2007.
110 pp., pbk., $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-897039-40-3.

Subject Headings:
Readers’ theatre.
Oral reading.
Children’s plays, Canadian (English).
Reading (Elementary).
Reading (Middle school).

Grades 5-10 / Ages 10-15.

Review by Harriet Zaidman.

*** /4


Narrator 2: The school bus has just gone over a cliff. Three of the boys – Craig, Lerch and Rory – are not badly hurt.

Narrator 1: But their friend Ben is badly hurt. Mrs. D, the bus driver, is out cold.

Narrator 2: The bus is turned over on its side. Only the back exit door will still open. And the boys can smell leaking gas.

Craig: Okay, let’s get Ben out first. I’ll grab his arms and you get his legs.

Lerch: Let’s get moving. Smell that gas? This thing could go up any minute. (From “The Crash.”)


Readers’ theatre is an excellent way to get kids actively engaged with literature and drama, without a lot of props and planning. The pressure and nerves associated with memorizing lines is eliminated for those who are unsure of themselves in front of an audience. Holding a book or standing at a podium can calm shaky hands; the confidence built from this method of presentation can propel students to greater understanding of the material being studied and to further work in drama.

     HIP Readers’ Theatre presents 16 very short plays (4-5 minutes in length) drawn from High Interest/Low Vocabulary novels, published by High Interest Publishing. The HIP senior books are rated at a Grade 3-4 reading level, with an interest level up to Grade 12.

     The novels are all about contemporary topics – emergencies such as being caught in a blizzard or a car accident, bullying, racism and drugs. The plays distill key scenes which make good drama and are the starting point for class discussions over the issues. The language in the plays is written at the same level as the novels, making it easy for reluctant readers to participate in the reading. The large type also facilitates easy reading.

     The book is written with teachers’ needs in mind, including a synopsis of the novel, performing notes, necessary sound effects and the number of lines for each character. The cost of the book includes rights to reproduce the scripts for school use. Each of the plays has two narrators so that the context of the story can be explained without lengthening it. Rehearsing with the narrators and the three or four student actors needed makes these projects very doable. Finally, every student in a class can participate in a play without being an ‘extra’ with no lines.

     It would be exciting for an entire class to be divided into literature circles, each studying a separate book and presenting the corresponding play. These plays can be very useful for classroom and resource teachers with large groups of challenged or disinterested readers.


Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.