Literature Out Loud harnesses the special power of theater to enhance Boulder-area students' reading comprehension of, and engagement with, literature. There is no other program like it.
At Local Theater Company, we believe theater can play an important role in literacy. That's why we created Literature Out Loud, which creates opportunities for students most struggling with academic achievement due to average reading skills a way to learn and succeed alongside their higher achieving peers.
We bring young adults novels to life on the stage with exceptional quality, connecting student audiences with a novel, and library resources designed specifically for them... all available for free.
In collaboration with the Boulder Public Library (BPL) and Boulder Valley School District (BVSD), Literature Out Loud selects remarkable young adult novels, adapts them into staged performances, and presents those performances in BPL’s Central Branch Canyon Theater.
Similar programs have had proven success in the past. Our Artistic Director Pesha Rudnick, for instance, developed and ran a similar program in Los Angeles for six years, where she engaged thousands of students with great impact on the confidence and engagement of second language learners and low performing students.
But nothing of this kind currently exists in Boulder County.
Our first novel.
We launched Literature Out Loud in February 2017 with Home in the Heart: An Adaptation for Students of Sandra Cisneros's "The House on Mango Street", about a young Latina growing up in a multi-mixed neighborhood in America. Local Theater Company selected this book for three reasons.
- It directly addresses the experiences of Latino students in BVSD (approximately 28.5%).
- It is a book that members of our Teacher Advisory Committee are either currently teaching or are interested in adding to their curriculum.
- And Cisneros’ mastery of poetic language in both English and Spanish, is simultaneously accessible to students reading below grade-level, and heightened enough to engage advanced readers.
It ignites thought and conversation in all audiences on the subjects of identity and exclusion.
How it works.
Teachers receive a curriculum created by Megan Mathews containing information about the author, novel and context, as well as discussion, writing and theater activities that can be used in the classroom before and after the performance. These activities provide multiple entry points into the book, for students who enjoy being in front of and collaborating with their classmates (roll playing, tableaus, improvisation), as well as students who prefer to work independently and without public scrutiny (guided writing, visual art).
From arrival at the library to departure, the entire field-trip is approximately 2 hours. Students get a tour of the library by library staff, and those who don’t already have a library card will be issued one.
Once in the Canyon Theater, where we present Literature Live, students participate in pre-show activities by contributing their own reactions to the book’s themes. Using SmartPhones, their responses to reflection questions are projected in real time on the Canyon Theater’s screen as word clouds.
They then see a 45-minute performance of Home in the Heart: An Adaptation for Students of Sandra Cisneros's "The House on Mango Street". Afterwards, they participate in a writing activity designed to increase comprehension of the book’s themes, and inspire students to recognize a personal connection to the story. Volunteers can share their writing on stage, either individually or as part of a choral poem. The program concludes with a cast Q&A.
Special thanks to the following organizations for their support of Literature Out Loud.