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Roosevelt Readers' Theater 'Pirates' Show How Books 'Arrggh' the Treasure


Yo-ho! Yo-ho! Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School 2nd graders in Ms. Alison Skoczdopole’s class were pirates for a day when they presented a Readers’ Theater on the books, "Henry & the Buccaneer Bunnies" by Carolyn Crimi and "How I Became a Pirate" by Melinda Long. But unlike pirates who seek buried treasure, these pirates deomonstrated that the real treasure is in books.


In Readers’ Theater style, students wore simple costumes of pirate hats or bandanas, a hoop earring and white T-shirts with a picture of a treasure chest of books that read, “Books arrggh the treasure!”  They stood before a mural of a pirate ship designed by art teacher Ms. Meredith Brustman with scripts in hand, ready for the audience to focus on the way they deliver their lines.  


According to Roosevelt Elementary School Principal Ms. Tami McElwee, “The purpose of the Readers’ Theater is not to memorize lines or wear elaborate costumes, but rather to focus on reading the text with expressive voices and gestures. These performances engage our young readers and help them build their skills.”


Students first entertained family and friends with an animated reading of "Henry & the Buccaneer Bunnies,a story about Henry, son of Captain Barnacle Black Ear, who would rather read than be a fierce bunny pirate and plunder for pirate booty like his father. The other pirates make fun of Henry and threaten to throw his books overboard until a terrifying storm changes their mind.


The pirate theme continued with "How I Became a Pirate," a story about Jeremy Jacob who is invited to join Braid Beard’s pirate crew and soon learns all about being a pirate. He throws his food across the table and his manners to the wind. He hollers like thunder and laughs off bedtime until he finds out what pirates don't do: No reading bedtime stories? No tucking kids in? Jeremy soon realizes that being a pirate isn't so great after all.


The stories moved along swiftly as students took turns approaching the microphones and reading their assigned portions of each script. This performance was the first of five second-grade classes that will present a Readers’ Theater throughout the year. The performances are coordinated by Literacy Coach Ms. Chris Bartell and Library Media Specialist Ms. Roseann Davidson, in collaboration with Ms. Brustman and music teacher Ms. Brenda Murphy, who leads the students in song to close their performance. Students sang, "Pirate Song" with gestures that complimented the lyrics.


After the program, student enjoyed refreshments provided by the PTA. Among them were Pirate Booty, gold fish crackers and chips, chocolate gold coins, and a pirate-themed cake complete with a photo of the class in their Readers’ Theater costumes.


Leading up to their performance, the class visited every classroom as “Book Ambassadors” and spread important messages about reading. They also left two special treasures in each classroom to remind students about the value of being good readers.