By Carol Hinz
Editorial Director, Millbrook Press
Oh, okay, I’ll play it again for you:
As Betsy explained on her blog, the reason for the screaming is our new series History Speaks: Picture Books Plus Reader’s Theater.
The books in this series focus on major events in U.S. history. The first 32 pages are, essentially, a stand-alone picture book, often told from the perspective of a young person. An author’s note that follows provides some additional historical context. And then comes the Reader’s Theater section with tips for kids about performing Reader’s Theater, a cast of characters, an 8-page script. Then we have some helpful back matter: a pronunciation guide, glossary, selected bibliography, further reading and websites, and a note for adults (teachers, librarians, etc.) about putting on a Reader’s Theater performance.
Above: Cast of characters and first script page for Lizzie Newton and the San Francisco Earthquake, otherwise known as the script with the scream
But wait, there’s more! (I’m starting to feel like Billy Mays.) If you look up the books in this series on our website, you’ll find materials to supplement the Reader’s Theater performances. There are sound effects for each script (including an earthquake, a laughing crowd, and fife music) that correspond with sound cues in the script. We also have a background image for each book that could be used on a projection screen or electronic whiteboard during performances. Plus you’ll find simple prop suggestions (props are completely optional for Reader’s Theater), printable scripts, and reading level info for each of the parts in the scripts.
I’ve included all the book covers below. Clicking on a cover will take you to our website where you can then find the additional materials for that book. And in the coming weeks, look for blog posts with behind-the-scenes info about a couple of the titles in this series.