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I have always thought
that the actions of men
are the best interpreters
of their thoughts
John Locke 1632 - 1704
English physician/philosopher

Reading and research series

Interpretive or dramatic reading

Basically the reader is sharing an interpretation of an author
with an audience, literally read and not memorized.

  • Selections include stories, essays, speeches, raps, plays and scenes of plays.
  • The reader communicates meaning and emotions to the listener,
    relying only on the spoken word through reading,
    without props, costumes, lighting or sound effects, or other devices including digital presentations, or wandering about a stage
  • The reader assumes the identity of a character and portrays the dramatic, physical and emotional aspects of this character or of the situation
  • External music or sound effects are to be avoided unless critical to the piece
  • Stools and podiums for scripts may be used
  • If there are several characters,
    each is identified through voice changes, gestures, and posture
  • If there are more than one reader,
    there is no physical or eye contact between readers as in a play

Interpretive reading begins with a good understanding of the material

  • The selection is focused and not too complex that the audience can identify with and understand it in one presentation
  • The piece stands on its own: does it sound right? Will it be understood?
  • What is the (your) emotional connection;
    how does it affect your reading and interpretation?

Once a reading is selected, analyze and study its sequence of thought:

  • Summarize the general theme, or dominant meaning, you wish to convey
  • Visualize or imagine a word picture that will help you relate
    your experience with the reading

What will be your introduction?
Capture the audience's attention, and set the stage for
the reading, point of view, context, etc.

  • From what work is this selection taken? What is the title? Who is the author?
  • What is the context, and role of any character?
  • If two or more pieces are read,
    transitions should set the stage and connect the pieces

Practice reading aloud for continuity and smoothness:

  • Keep your mind on the connected thought as you read
  • Do the sequences of sentences build the theme or story?
  • Practice reading the story out loud to a trial audience

Format your oral presentation to the audience's ability
to identify with, understand and enjoy the piece

Create an atmosphere or context with your voice:
expressive reading uses many vocal tools. Vocal qualities show differences in characters, development of the action, and indications of emotions

  • Rhythm, pace and cadence include pauses and effective spacing for words
  • Pronunciation of words pays attention to the enunciation of sounds. 
    Practice difficult words and their sounds as vowels and consonants,
    especially leading and ending sounds.

Hear James Earl Jones recite the American alphabet

Emphasize prominent words or groups of words
in order to make the meaning clear. Enunciate the final word in sentences
Pay attention to punctuation (comma, question, exclamation, etc.) and expressions

  • Inflection: raising and lowering pitch, as loudness and softness
    For example, a rising inflection is used in asking a question and expressing happiness, an expression of joyousness and life. A falling inflection expresses seriousness, completing a thought, or an indirect question.

One strategy can be to read the sentences but in place of words
use only a sound as mmm or ahhhh.

  • Use facial expressions and gestures, and timely,
    effective eye contact with the audience
  • Bring out the music of the rhythm, but avoid sing-song reading.
    Adjust your voice in order to interpret the "music" and thought of the reading
    Deliberate or fast reading can convey emotion.

Reading and research series

Reading critically | Prereading strategies | SQ3R reading method |
KWL reading method | Marking & underlining | Reading difficult material | Interpretive reading | Reading essays | Reading fiction | Narrator/character types |
Speed and comprehension | Researching on the Internet | Evaluating websites |
Organizing research: computers | Organizing research: note cards