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Making a difference through drama

We're a little company not afraid to think big.

Since our launch in 2011, Play In A Book has served over 4,000 students in close to two dozen schools and developed a line of materials that excite students while delivering solid results.




Our Story

The idea for Play In A Book began some years ago when Laura St. John was working in a classroom in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago with twenty-five students.  She was very excited to share drama-based reading materials she had developed with the group.  Unfortunately, only five of the twenty-five students were reading at level.  That’s when she realized that in order to have a cohesive lesson she would need to create leveled texts within her materials.  Each leveled text could include a focused phonics skill and key vocabulary words.  With all of these components in one place, everyone from the struggling reader to the accelerated reader could be on the same page.



Play In A Book is a Chicago publisher with a mission to improve literacy among young readers using drama.

Play In A Book is a Chicago publisher with a mission to improve literacy among young readers using drama.

students.  The materials are designed for a guided reading approach that builds key reading skills using a well-defined lesson plan over the course of multiple sessions.  Further, the materials align with Common Core Standards explicit to recognized national literacy training goals.



Laura St. John is founder and president of Play In A Book.  Having spent over twenty years as a Teaching Artist serving thousands of students in more than 50 Chicago Public Schools, Laura provides a unique perspective on the connection between literacy and drama.  Her materials and curriculum give equal weight to both, and create a truly engaging method to develop reading skills.  Laura is a trained actor with a degree in Theatre Performance from Ball State University and she is a member of Actor’s Equity Association, the International Literacy Association, and the Illinois Reading Council, and she is a board member of the Chicago Area Reading Association (CARA).  As author of The Act It Read It Series™ (Play In A Book) and a collaborator on the children's book Through the Cracks (Davis Publications), she is an advocate of an arts-based education.  Laura lives in Chicago with her husband and two daughters.



It is our belief that an arts-based approach, specifically through drama, is a key component to building reading comprehension, word recognition, and oral fluency in beginning readers.  By engaging students in the action of a play, students develop their reading skills through repetition and the process of getting to know their character.


Students are able to participate in the action of the story regardless of skill level as, in our texts for grades 1 - 4, each act of the play is presented in three graduating levels appropriate for beginning, intermediate, and advanced students.  This allows students of varying aptitudes to participate together in the rehearsal process.  The 30-session program, either taught by our instructor or by a school teacher, culminates in the performance of the play for an invited audience.  Through the natural repetition of the rehearsal process, the students gain aptitude with the underlying phonics skills within the text while building reading fluency and word recognition skills.  The accompanying worksheets explore the characters, theme, and setting of the story building reading comprehension.


In practice, students tend to respond to Play In A Book as more of a drama program than a reading program.  By engaging the student through drama, an intensive 30-session literacy program is delivered that draws the children into the action of the story and allows them to explore using their voice within the context of a performance.


We offer an arts-based approach to improved literacy using distinctive, proprietary materials developed over years spent working with at-risk

A performance-based assessment occurs within the first and last weeks of each program to measure comprehension, vocabulary, teamwork and performance.  Play In A Book averages an overall 36% gain in the skills measured.


Our classroom actors combine professional stage experience with solid training in the classroom, so Play In A Book can successfully implement our program with a diverse student body, while working to maintain high standards of performance.


We can find innovative solutions to an individual school or classroom's needs.  Play In A Book is committed to the goal of furnishing quality arts integrated enrichment and materials for students throughout the Chicago area.


We are a preferred vendor for both In-school Arts Services and Out of School Time services.  School administers may search for LMS Innovations d/b/a Play In A Book on the CPS Marketplace shopping portal.  We are proud to serve as an Arts Partner for CPS and we strive to deliver quality programming at an affordable price.  Our materials have been used by over 6,000 students within CPS and other area schools.

Play In A BookAn innovative approach to improved literacy


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