"Aaron Shepard is a national treasure. He has given thousands of us busy teachers and librarians a gold mine of ready-made plays our students clamor to perform over and over. Aaron's new collection never fails to delight and enthrall. While the experts argue about the 'right' way to teach reading, Aaron is in the middle of the action, inspiring our kids to read aloud with fluency, comprehension, expression, and best of all, joy." -- Judy Freeman, Author, "More Books Kids Will Sit Still For"
"Aaron Shepard has done it! Folktales on Stage is a complete package of easy-to-perform, dynamic reader's theater scripts. Pack your passport and take a trip around the world. You and your actors will have a world of fun." -- Dr. Caroline Feller Bauer, Author, "Presenting Reader's Theater" and "New Handbook for Storytellers"
"What a gift for the classroom teacher! Pure reading pleasure and not a single script that can't be used with small groups or an entire class. Performance reading builds fluency, but Aaron Shepard's gift for storytelling will also build appreciation. This collection will be a rich addition to reading programs in our balanced literacy classrooms." -- Susan Finney, Author, "Independent Reading Activities That Keep Kids Learning While You Teach Small Groups"
"Folktales on Stage brings the joy inherent in folk literature to life. Children will love reading aloud for an audience as they become the witty, foolish, gentle, and often touching characters in these tales." -- Shirlee Sloyer, Author, "From the Page to the Stage: The Educator's Complete Guide to Readers Theatre"
"What a great resource! These easy-to-use scripts are just the thing for the social studies or language arts curriculum. With thorough directions, even those who have never tried reader's theater will find it very easy to move the scripts from book to stage. The author is a skilled advocate of reader's theater and has shared that expertise so that everyone can include this form of dramatic reading in their instructional programs." -- Peggy Sharp, Children's Literature Consultant
"The work of a master of the craft. Based on authentic folktales, and ranging from side-splittingly funny to magical and enchanting, these dramatic pieces will be enjoyed by young readers, and by audiences of all ages." -- Dr. Judy Sierra, Folklorist and Author, "Multicultural Folktales" and "Nursery Tales Around the World"
"The quality of the scripting is flawless and faithfully reflects the level of expertise we have come to expect from Aaron Shepard. Anyone interested in learning how to script for RT would do well to study these scripts with the original source stories in hand." -- R. Demers, Readers Theatre Digest, Winter 2004
"The Adventures of Mouse Deer" (Indonesia)
"The Calabash Kids" (Tanzania)
"The Hidden One" (Native America)
"The Boy Who Wanted the Willies" (Europe)
"The Princess Mouse" (Finland)
"The Legend of Slappy Hooper" (U.S.)
"The Gifts of Wali Dad" (India, Pakistan)
"The Baker's Dozen" (U.S.)
"Master Maid" (Norway)
"The Magic Brocade" (China)
"Forty Fortunes" (Iran)
"Master Man" (Nigeria)
"The Enchanted Storks" (Iraq)
"The Crystal Heart" (Vietnam)
"The Sea King's Daughter" (Russia)
FROM THE INTRODUCTION
There are many styles of reader's theater. In the most traditional style:
-- Readers are arranged in a row or a semicircle, standing up or sitting on high stools. Typically, narrators are placed at one or both ends, and major characters in the center.
-- Scripts can be held in hand or set on music stands.
-- Readers look straight out toward the audience or at an angle, rather than at each other.
-- Characters "exit" by turning their backs to the audience. (Narrators don't normally exit.)
-- "Scene changes" -- jumps in time or place -- can be shown by a group "freeze," followed by some kind of collective shift.
Chamber Readers, the group with which I trained and performed for five years, employs a style quite different, designed to appeal to young audiences. (For more details, see my book Readers on Stage.)
-- Characters portray the action described in the story. Where possible, the portrayal is literal, with characters moving around the stage much as in a play. Where necessary, it's suggestive, as with simple mime devices like walking in place.
-- Though narrators look mostly at the audience, characters look mostly at each other.
-- Scripts in sturdy binders are held in one hand, leaving the other hand free for acting.
-- A set of low stools and perhaps one or more high stools serve as versatile stage scenery or props.
-- "Exits" and "scene changes" are handled much as in traditional reader's theater.
These scripts should lend themselves to either approach, or to any other you might choose. Feel free to create your own! There are rules in reader's theater, but luckily there is no one to enforce them.