There are a number of objectives that a community reading seeks to accomplish:
First. To encourage the simple fun of playing with beautiful language and literature in an expressive way. Reading aloud is a participatory activity that can be engaged in pleasurably by the entire family. By expressively using language well, people may become more familiar and comfortable with a more elegant use of language, which they may incorporate into their regular usage.
Second. Regardless of whether or not the parents or children come to the experience of reading aloud naturally, short and readily understandable children's stories that are challenging yet unthreatening can be selected for presentation. It is possible to learn to read one story, or a segment of a longer story, well and expressively, and to present that as a dramatic reading in a context that is emotionally safe, supportive, and fun. As long as the organization and requirements for participation are kept simple, people will be more likely to take a risk in attempting something new.
Third. Such community readings are an opportunity for families to plan and play together. They encourage fun, cooperation and intimacy in a way where each contributes according to his/her own ability. The atmosphere is non-authoritarian; the organization is non-hierarchical. If people see through rehearsing how simply and easily this can be done, they may take the initiative to attempt other works as readings.
Fourth. There is no emotional risk in engaging in such community readings. The challenge of presenting a children's story is limited in context and length. The audience consists of the other performers who are sharing a mutual challenge and experience. By parents actively engaging in the playfulness of visualizing and expressing joyful characters and story situations, the value of the pursuit is validated in ways the classroom teacher cannot accomplish.
Fifth. Because there are no requirements or expectations with regard to style, manner or competence of presentations, an unlimited range of possibilities is encouraged and supported. Parents and children can present their story in many different ways: with costumes or without, with props or without, simply or elaborately, using dance and movement, or merely sitting in chairs. The cost to a family is no greater than costuming for Halloween or other similar occasions.
Sixth. By encouraging families to work together on a project, values of cooperation, intimacy, sharing, teamwork, playfulness, and positive self-esteem are encouraged that will go a long way to teach parents and children how to engage with each other and their peers in a similar way. And they can experience learning as a cooperative team effort.
Seventh. By attempting to present these stories in a simple participatory way, both parents and children are challenged to confront the experience of the story's conflict and resolution. This can enable both parents and children to learn new ways to articulate the experience of dealing with social and emotional interactions that are depicted in children's stories. And it will help both parents and children learn to become more emotionally articulate.
Eighth. Through the leadership, encouragement and example provided by the organization of a community reading, parents and children will discover a new, creative way to play and interact with each other. They will see that such community readings can be initiated by families simply and independently, and they may continue to do so on their own.