Book and Gift Pairings for the Holidays

Books make great gifts any time of year. But what's even better? Books paired with a items meant to extend the enjoyment of the story! This Read, Discuss, Do! Gift Guide pairs some of our favorite books with other gifts meant to help extend the fun of the story beyond the last page and maybe even encourage some new experiences. We hope you find some good ideas for readers and doers in your life on this list. For Babies and Toddlers Hey, Bruce! by Ryan T. Higgins. Pair this super fun (and funny) interactive picture book with a black bear plush, such as this First and Main 10-inch Bear .  Stomp, Wiggle, Clap, and Tap: My First Book of Dance  by Rachel Burk and illustrated by Alyssa De Asis, a book that encourages imaginative play. Pair this book with a musical gift such as a music box or instrument. Or maybe a dance costume! More books for active babies and toddlers For Little Makers The Thingity-Jig by Kathleen Doherty and illustrated by Kristyna Litten will be a sure hit with lit

Screen Free Week Idea: Reader's Theater

by Marci Whitehurst

May 1-7 is screen free week! Do you know what makes a story come alive without electronics? 

Reader’s Theater!!

Theater has been around since at least 600 B.C.*, but I would imagine that as long as we’ve had children on the earth, there have probably been some dramatic presentations! Kids love voices, stories, and excitement! 

In school, Reader’s Theater is often done with scripts, much like a play, where kids get a part and a chance to read lines. Often, it differs from a play in that the scripts aren’t memorized and very little costumes, if any, are used. Kids get a chance to use drama in how they read and also stand in front of their classmates. It’s a great way to get kids excited about reading. 

Reader’s Theater can be done anywhere: classrooms, in library groups, and at home using scripts or books you already have or ones you’ve checked out from the library. 


Find some free scripts online. Here’s a link for The Little Red Hen as an example:


Read some of your favorite books and then make up your own theater presentation! 

How? Here are two options:

  1. Have each kid and/or adult pick a character and when that character is part of the story, pass the book to that person to read for that character. 

  2. Pick someone to be a narrator and then let kids be a character by acting out and repeating what is said. For example, if you’re reading Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin, the narrator might read the first page: “Farmer Brown has a problem. His cows like to type. All day long he hears, “Click, clack, moo. Click, clack, moo. Clickety, clack, moo.” Then the child that is a cow would say, “Click, clack, moo. Click, clack, moo. Clickety, clack, moo.”

  3. Books that are written completely in dialogue can be great Reader's Theater scripts! Here are a few suggestions:

  • Goodnight, Already! by Jory John, illustrated by Benji Davies
  • The Elephant and Piggie books by Mo Willems
  • I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen
  • Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky

DISCUSS: Talk about the characters in the book or script:

  • What would their voices sound like? (This is also a great time to talk about how to make a loud voice if you have a timid child. I tell my kids, “Take a deep breath, fill your tummy up with air like a balloon, and let it out with a big breath and a big voice!)

  • What kind of faces would they make? Are they happy, sad, frustrated, excited? 

  • What actions would this character do? Stand up tall, hide, walk in place, pretend to type? 

DO: It’s time to get ready to perform!

Although many Reader’s Theaters don’t use costumes, I love using masks or letting kids make masks that represent their character. This can easily be done with a paper plate. Here are some simple instructions from One Crazy Mom.

You can also let kids dress up as their character. If you have costumes around the house, use them! Even a bathrobe, a towel on the head, or a sash can become a costume. 

Performance Time! 

The best thing about Reader’s Theater is that it gets kids excited to be a character without the pressure of perfection. Having fun sharing a story is the ultimate goal. Kids get to experiment with becoming a character through acting and voicing that character. If you have a milk crate, a stable coffee table, or a blanket to put on the floor—you have a stage! 

Have fun and let us know in the comments what story or stories you’d like to do for Reader’s Theater. 

*According to, primitive theater continued until 600 B.C. For more info, please visit: