Flying back to DC yesterday, I sat next to a woman devouring "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child." It's not often you find folks reading plays. It may be the first play script she's ever read.
As a playwright, I'm very familiar with the format - character name centered, stage directions in italics, lots of empty spaces for actors to write down blocking and acting notes. Those blank spaces reminded me of something Newbery Award winning writer Kwame Alexander told us on "The Crossover" episode of Book Club for Kids.
Kwame remembered one kid who said he really loved the book, written in verse, because it "didn't have a lot of words and it had so much white space!"
Just like plays!
But plays are more than just an entry point for reluctant readers. Studies show that:
- Performing texts in the classroom and the improvement of a variety of verbal skills, including especially significant increases in story recall and understanding of written material.
- Performance of Shakespeare texts helps to improve students’ understanding of other complex texts including science and math material.
- Drama can improve reading skills and comprehension better than other activities, including discussion.
And, needless to say, acting out a play is just fun.
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