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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Motivating Readers with Movie Scripts

I am guilty of many things, one of them being the use of some nontraditional materials to get kids reading in the classroom. It's no secret that I totally dig picture books for all grade levels, and I also feel that appropriate graphic novels can serve young readers.

Another way to motivate reluctant readers is through the use of movie scripts. For many students, scripts are both engaging and nonthreatening, since the overall plot lines are already familiar (and don't be surprised if students know whole scenes by heart as well). The Internet Movie Script Database features dozens of scripts from current movies and television shows, categorized by genre and fully searchable. These can be read right online, with no download or additional software needed. Simply Scripts has a larger assortment of scripts, from movies, television, radio, stage, and more. Several other sources are available through Google, but I've found these two to be most reliable.

These scripts can be used in other ways as well:
  • Students attempting to write scripts can use these as models for conventional formatting.

  • Teachers working on proper use of quotations can assign a portion of a script to be rewritten as traditional dialogue.

  • Oral expression can be examined through multiple readings of sections, emphasizing different words and varying rate and pitch. For example, how many emotions can be expressed by rereadings of the simple question, "Really?"

  • Students can discuss the use of flash forwards and flashbacks as vehicles for advancing the plot.

  • Speakers of English as a second language can practice reading portions, comparing their diction with that of the on-screen actors. (I suppose you'll have to be careful which scripts you choose for this purpose. Having a classroom full of Nathan Lanes or Robert DeNiros is probably not a desired outcome of instruction).
Some disclaimers:

  • Movies rated R appear here as well, so proper guidance on this site is needed.

  • I am not a lawyer and I don't play one on TV, but my guess is that printing off entire scripts from this source or any other is probably not legal and should be avoidedSnippets of the scripts might be okay, but don't take my word on that.

  • Although the scripts I viewed seemed true to the movie versions, it's possible that some vary from the final theatrical releases.

  • These script sites exist to sell movies, books, DVDS, etc. For that reason, some schools are likely to block them! I recommend you search about a bit and you may be able to find the desired script on an unblocked site.
Have some other uses for online scripts? Email me or leave a comment below.


max said...

I appreciate any efforts to draw attention to reading, and attract reluctant readers to it.

That's because I grew up as a reluctant reader, in spite of the fact that my father published over 70 books. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for tween boys, that avid boy readers and girls enjoy just as much.

I think it's because of my experience in the production of films, and I write visually, that kids tell me readinbg one of my books is like being in an exciting or scary movie.

My blog, Books for Boys recently reached # 1 on Google.

Keep up your good work concerning reading.

Max Elliot Anderson

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