Don’t (DO!) be such a drama queen! Best picture books for a DRAMATIC storytime

8 Jun

I admit it. I am a giant ham. I LOVE playing for laughs in storytime. There’s nothing better than making a child (or a parent!) giggle so hard they can’t stop. I am proud to say I made a preschool teacher laugh so hard at my performance of I Want My Hat Back that she cried.  What more could a storytime provider want?


Anyone else read the bear as completely deadpan?

To that end, a colleague and I are presenting a short program to our fellow storytime presenters on integrating drama into your storytime. My co-presenter is a former drama teacher, so she’s going to talk more about drama games and other activities beyond the book, but I’m focusing on making picture book readings more dramatic.

We’ve narrowed dramatic readings down to two categories:

  1. “Playing the dummy,” i.e. pretending like you don’t know what’s going to happen (and asking obvious questions of the listener) and being very surprised/confused/angry/happy when the story resolves, or
  2. Using the text and/or illustrations for clues on how to read the story. For example, if a character looks like he’s crying, read the text in a sad voice. If the text is bolded, obviously that’s a word or phrase you need to emphasize. Use your body to mimic what the character is feeling or saying!

Here’s the list of books that really lend themselves to dramatic readings. I’m sure there are many, many more. Please share your favorites in the comments!

Bark, George by Jules Feiffer

There’s a Monster at the End of This Book by Jon Stone

Book with No Pictures by BJ Novak

The Doghouse by Jan Thomas

A Splendid Friend Indeed by Suzanne Bloom

Harry Hungry by Stephen Salerno

Dinosaur vs. Bedtime by Bob Shea

Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dykeman

Interrupting Chicken by David Stein

I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen

The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli

Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney

Leonardo the Terrible Monster by Mo Willems

Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas

Grumpy Bird by Jeremy Tankard

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London

Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear by Audrey Wood

A Visitor for Bear by Bonny Becker

Mortimer by Robert Munsch

Moo by David Larochelle

Banana! by Ed Vere

A Pet for Petunia by Paul Schmid

Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems

Punk Farm by Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Shark in the Park by Nick Sharratt

3 Responses to “Don’t (DO!) be such a drama queen! Best picture books for a DRAMATIC storytime”

  1. Jane Whittingham July 30, 2015 at 6:29 pm #

    “Little Owl Lost” by Chris Haughton lends itself well to dramatic readings – kids find the eager if misguided squirrel hilarious. “Grumpy Bird” by Jeremy Tankard is another great melodramatic picture book for story times. Dramatic performances help kids learn to associate words on a page with real ideas and emotions, so I am always ready to breathe some life into my story telling. 🙂

  2. Angela June 22, 2015 at 3:49 pm #

    You WILL Be My Friend! by Peter Brown

  3. mandymarie20 June 8, 2015 at 11:38 pm #

    Great choices! To me, any book can be dramatic – it’s all about delivery. If you perform a reading, the experience is a million times better than just reading the book.

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