Children Stories in dramatic form


like theater read the characters lines

Children Classics in dramatic form.

This book is intended to accomplish three distinct purposes: first, to arouse a greater
interest in oral reading; second, to develop an expressive voice—sadly lacking in the case
of most Americans; and third, to give freedom and grace in the bodily attitudes and
movements which are involved in reading and speaking. The stories given are for the
most part adaptations of favorite tales from folklore,–Andersen, Grimm, Aesop, and the
Arabian Nights having been freely drawn upon.
Children are dramatic by nature. They are for the time the kings, the fairies, and the
heroes that they picture in their imaginations. They are these characters with such
abandon and with such intense pleasure that the on-looker must believe that nature
intended that they should give play to this dramatic instinct, not so much formally, with
all the trappings of the man-made stage, but spontaneously and naturally, as they talk and
read. If this expressive instinct can be utilized in the teaching of reading, we shall be able
both to add greatly to the child’s enjoyment and to improve the quality of his oral
reading. In these days when so many books are hastily read in school, there is a tendency
to sacrifice expression to the mechanics and interpretation of reading. Those acquainted
with school work know too well the resulting monotonous, indistinct speech and the selfconscious,
listless attitude which characterize so much of the reading of pupils in grades
above the third. It is believed that this little book will aid in overcoming these serious
faults in reading, which all teachers and parents deplore. The dramatic appeal of the
stories will cause the child to lose himself in the character he is impersonating and read
with a naturalness and expressiveness unknown to him before, and this improvement will
be evident in all his oral reading, and even in his speech.
The use of the book permits the whole range of expression, from merely reading the
stories effectively, to “acting them out” with as little, or as much, stage-setting or
costuming as a parent or teacher may desire. The stories are especially designed to be
read as a part of the regular reading work. Many different plans for using the book will
suggest themselves to the teacher. After a preliminary reading of a story during the study
period, the teacher may assign different parts to various children, she herself reading the
stage directions and the other brief descriptions inclosed in brackets. The italicized
explanations in parentheses are not intended to be read aloud; they will aid in giving the
child the cue as to the way the part should be rendered. After the story has been read in
this way, if thought advisable it can be played informally and simply, with no attempt at
costuming or theatric effects. It will often add to the interest of the play to have some of
the children represent certain of the inanimate objects of the scene, as the forest, the town
gate, a door, etc. Occasionally, for the “open day,” or as a special exercise, a favorite