Book review, Children's Books

Teaching Shakespeare to Your Children

Last summer I decided that my oldest daughter needed to read some Shakespeare.   I can’t even understand Shakespeare so I didn’t know how in the world I was going to teach it to my children.  When Blogging for Books offered How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig as a book to review I signed up immediately.  Several weeks later it arrived and soon after we dove into our first Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet.

Let me just say, this author loves him some Shakespeare.  You can tell that it is his passion and that he lives, eats and breathes Shakespeare.  I wish I had had a teacher this passionate about it in high school and maybe I would have enjoyed reading more of his plays!  He highly recommends memorization of Shakespeare for younger kids and he believes that if kids can understand Shakespeare, they can understand anything.

Obviously I didn’t understand much because when Juliet says, “Romeo, Romeo.  Wherefore art though Romeo?” I always thought it literally meant, “Where are you, Romeo?”  However, Ludwig explains that in Elizabethan times, wherefore meant why.  So Juliet was saying, “Why are you Romeo?”  Why do you have to be a Montague?

Mind.  Blown.

Although I learned a few interesting tidbits in this book, I’ll confess that it was not the step by step how-to book that I was looking for.  I was wanting a clear and concise lesson plan that would show me how to explain all those difficult Elizabethan words.  It talked a lot about memorization and sprinkled in some historical facts here and there.  It was a good book, but not as useful as I hoped it would be.

I did find some other books to add to our Shakespeare study that were very valuable to us.

The No Fear Shakespeare books are fantabulous.  The books are laid out with the original text on one page and an updated modern version on the opposite page.  I encouraged Annagrace to read the original text and see if she could understand it.  Then she would read the updated text and see if she was correct.  What a genius concept!  There are a lot of books in this series and I’ve even picked up a couple more since then.

One book that I am over the moon in love with is Usbourne’s Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare.  This is written for a much younger audience and is very easy to understand.  My nine year old read Romeo and Juliet on her own (did you catch that–my nine year old read Shakespeare on her own) while her big sister was studying it and we were able to talk about it all together.

Usbourne has several Shakespeare books for younger kiddos and they even offer a Shakespeare sticker book!

Although my oldest daughter didn’t fall in love with the bard like I was hoping she would, I may have a budding play lover on my hands with my middle daughter.   She has already asked when we will be studying our next Shakespeare book.  I think I see a trip in store for us to the Shakespeare festival this summer!

What are your thoughts on Shakespeare?  Love it?  Hate it?  Have you taught it to your kids?



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