New York City Children’s Theater is proud to be a part of The Afterschool Reading Club, bringing our signature Literature at Play education program to homeless shelters in NYC. But what is ARC? And what is Literature at Play?


Last year, the Department of Education (DOE) piloted the Afterschool Reading Club (ARC) –  a literacy enrichment program for elementary school students living in shelters.

The program was piloted in 18 shelters in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens throughout the school year. After a successful first year, ARC returned for the 2017-18 school year!

Afterschool Reading Club meets three days a week for 3 hours a day, and is taught by DOE teachers.

For 20 years, New York City Children’s Theater has been dedicated to reaching all children in NYC with innovative theater programs that enhance their social, emotional, and educational gains. We work in over 70 public schools each year, serving approximately 15,000 students. We are honored to be chosen as a partner in this important program

Brooke Boertzel, Director of Education

In addition to New York City Children’s Theater, the DOE partnered with Studio in a School, The New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Library for this program.

Literature at Play

Literature at Play is New York City Children’s Theater’s signature education program that uses theater and songwriting activities to support and enhance children’s writing, reading, and language skills. Over the course of four or more weekly sessions, teaching artists lead elementary school-aged children through acting, playwriting and songwriting workshops, resulting in the adaptation of a children’s book into a musical!

Sample lyrics written by students:

It’s important to be kind.
Being a good listener is kind.
Sharing your food is kind.
Sticking up for others is kind.
Speaking with respect is kind.

The benefits of Literature at Play include:

  • Reinforcing students’ language and literacy skills through theatre and songwriting
  • Expanding students’ writing abilities with an emphasis on strengthening literary elements, dialogue, expressive or descriptive language
  • Increasing reading comprehension skills, such as sequencing, making predictions and text-to-self

During the program students learn:

  • To write a play with a clear beginning, middle and end
  • To understand the elements of a well-written play (i.e. inciting incident, conflict, resolution, action, high stakes, low stakes)
  • To understand characters’ motivations and express dialogue with appropriate emotion
  • To speak/sing in front of a group, demonstrated through greater risk-taking, projection and articulation

How You Can Help

Support powerful arts programming for children in need.