10 Children’s books that you can adapt for Role Play

Most children love role-playing or acting a story out. Children’s love of fantasy worlds magically transforms them into all the storybook characters without any need for elaborate props. All performance whether it is drama, dance or music, gives children the opportunity of becoming an active part of the story which helps them engage more deeply with it and so understand it better. Role-playing or dramatic play of characters allows children to tell the story in their own words and gives them the opportunity of showing their own original use of language. Even if they don’t perform, watching the story come to life helps children to see what may be going on behind the surface and to understand motives and actions better. Dramatic Play promotes language development, gross motor skills, creativity, teamwork, patience, public speaking and literacy development.

There was a play for children by Jugaad Co based on the popular children’s book “The Day the Crayons Quit”. Julia Donaldson herself frequently acts out her picture books including Stick Man, A Squash and a Squeeze and, of course, The Gruffalo with all ages, bringing in anyone willing to take on a part!

Although some stories may work better than others, there are no limits to what can be performed. All you need are clearly defined characters and some exciting action to re-enact any story! Using a book as the starting point for dramatic play is a great way to start.  How can you know if a book is good for performing with children? Here are a few books which, after reading will be good for the children to act out.

Books that you can act out

We are going on a bear hunt by Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury

We are going on a bear hunt

Full of delightful comedy and high drama, this tale of a brave family’s joyous romp through sweeping landscapes is sure to win new fans.

Stone Soup by Marcia Brown

Stone Soup

Clever soldiers outwit greedy townspeople with the creation of a special soup in this cherished classic, a Caldecott Honor book. This story, about three hungry soldiers who outwit the greedy inhabitants of a village into providing them with a feast, is based on an old French tale.

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

The Rainbow Fish

The award-winning book about a beautiful fish who finds friendship and happiness when he learns to share.

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein 

The Giving Tree

In an age of globalisation and industrialisation, ‘The Giving Tree’ is a book that in beautiful words tells about the relationship of selfless love between a boy and an apple tree. The book also has evocative illustrations made by Shel Silverstein himself, which displays the story between an apple tree and a boy. Throughout the boy’s life, the apple tree provides fruits to the boy who, upon growing up, realises that there is more to the tree than just the fruits. And, on having grown up, he demanded more and more from the tree, which the tree politely obliged always.

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Where the Wild Things areWhen Max puts on his wolf suit and makes mischief, his mother calls him ‘Wild Thing’ and sends him to bed without any supper. Alone in his room, Max enters a magical world and sets sail across the sea to the place where the wild things are. The wild things roar their terrible roars and gnash their terrible teeth and roll their terrible eyes and show their terrible claws. But Max tames the wild things and is made their king. Will he ever want to go home?

 Sylvester and the Magic Pebble by William Steig

Sylvester and the magic pebble

On a rainy day, Sylvester finds a magic pebble that can make wishes come true. But when a lion frightens him on his way home, Sylvester makes a wish that brings unexpected results.
How Sylvester is eventually reunited with his loving family and restored to his true self makes a story that is beautifully tender and filled with magic. Illustrated with William Steig’s glowing pictures, this is a modern classic beloved by children everywhere.

Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel

Tikki Tikki Tembo

Three decades and more than one million copies later children still love hearing about the boy with the long name who fell down the well. Arlene Mosel and Blair Lent’s classic re-creation of an ancient Chinese folktale has hooked legions of children, teachers, and parents, who return, generation after generation, to learn about the danger of having such an honorable name as Tikki tikki tembo-no sa rembo-chari bari ruchi-pip peri pembo.

Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina

Caps for Sale

Children will delight in following the peddler’s efforts to outwit the monkeys and will ask to read it again and again. Caps for Sale is an excellent easy-to-read book that includes repetition, patterns, and colors, perfect for early readers. This tale of a peddler and a band of mischievous monkeys is filled with warmth, humor, and simplicity and also teaches children about problem and resolution.

The Silly Story of Bondapalli


There was once a prince who hated food. One day the royal cook gave him something new to eat… a hot golden ball, crisp outside, soft inside… a bonda! After that there is no stopping either the prince or this mad tale that rolls its jolly way to an inevitably happy, bondaful end. The jaunty illustrations pick up all the comic clues along the way, to make it a truly ‘silly’ story.

Icky Yucky Mucky

Icky Yucky Mucky

Maharaja Icky is quite the most disgusting King you’ll ever have the misfortune to meet. The ruler of the kingdom of Icktapur regales all with his utterly vile table manners.

All these books give plenty of scope for imaginative interpretation. So go on and put on the show!!!

You can also check out a few ideas for dramatic play and use them with these books!



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