Overview: Looking for interesting and engaging ways to introduce your kids to William Shakespeare books this year?!? Here are some ENJOYABLE ideas!
If you want to introduce your kids to Shakespeare and you aren’t sure how to do it in a way which will cause them to fall in love with his plays rather than to go running for the hills, here’s my advice. In my opinion, there is a right way and a wrong way to expose our kids to classic literature.
The wrong way is to throw the unabridged version of the book at them and possibly a Cliff’s Notes book as well and expect them to fully comprehend and fully appreciate the book.
The right way is to present the material in a way that will help them engage with it, think about the time period in which it was written, learn about the author and be taught to appreciate the rich language and phrases the author used to get across his or her point.
Activities to Help Your Student Enjoy William Shakespeare’s Books
Shakespeare’s plays were meant to be watched in a theater rather than read. Much is lost in the translation when we sit down and read the words without being able to see the characters interact with each other.
I remember the confusion we all felt in my 9th grade English class when my teacher attempted to have us read Romeo and Juliet out loud. Readers were stumbling over their words. No one was laughing at the humorous phrases. We weren’t enjoying the experience.
Our teacher was disappointed that she wasn’t able to share her love for the play with her students.
Rather than continuing to slog through, however, she came up with a new plan of action. She had us close our books, put our heads down on our desks, and listen to a dramatic reading of the play instead.
This made so much more sense to us than us poor novices trying to slog through the book on our own.
And after listening to the play, we watched the movie version of Romeo and Juliet as well, which was most of us thoroughly enjoyed!
Here are 10 Engaging William Shakespeare Books and Activities:
1 – Take them to see the play.
2 – Watch a movie which has excellent reviews for being closely based on the book
3 – Read engaging books about the life and times of Shakespeare as well as abridged versions of his plays to help kids to become familiar with his work before tackling the unabridged versions. Here are seven books I highly recommend!
4 – Where’s Will? (Ages 7-11) – Spot William Shakespeare and a selection of his colorful characters from 10 of his best-loved plays! Includes illustrated synopses and search-and-find spreads.
5 – Complete Shakespeare (Ages 8+) – An early introduction to these classics creates interest at a young age in Shakespeare, as well as other classics. This includes 27 stories, each just a few pages long and written in more modern English, which makes them perfect for bedtime! In addition to the “longer” stories, there are 7 additional stories that are told “in brief”, each just one page long. This will stay on their bookshelves forever!
6 – How to Teach Your Child Shakespeare (Ages 8+) – Ken Ludwig devised his friendly, easy-to-master methods while teaching his own children. Beginning with memorizing short passages from the plays, his technique then instills children with cultural references they will utilize for years to come. You can read my entire review about this book here.
7 – Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare (Ages 8+) – From lively comedy to dark tragedy, with clowns, witches, and a doomed romance, this wonderful collection has six of Shakespeare’s best-loved plays. Discover the stories of Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and The Tempest, all beautifully retold for easy reading.
8 – World of Shakespeare (Ages 10+) – Explore the life and times of one of the greatest writers the world has ever seen in this wonderful, interactive introduction to his works. See where Shakespeare lived, how he worked and discover the plays he wrote, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet and more.
9 – Slot-Together Theatre (ages 6 and up) – Slot the different pieces together in order to build your own theater. There are set pieces to create and play out two famous plays: The Nutcracker and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. There’s different scenery to slot into the theater for scene changes and of course, all the characters and everything you need to put on those two productions. There are six sets of scenery altogether. In the book, you get text and instructions for how to put the plays on, as well as QR codes for specially arranged and produced music to go along with your plays.
10 – Write Your Own Poetry (ages 10 and up) – A write-in book filled with a wide range of poetry writing activities, tips, and advice to inspire a new generation of young poets. This book aims to make poetry accessible and exciting for beginners.
Once you’ve tackled a few of the above books and activities and your kids are ready, you can certainly assign them reading from an unabridged Shakespearian play. At that point, they will be familiar enough with the content of his plays that they’ll be ready to dig deep into the real thing.
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How do you introduce Shakespeare and other classic works to your kids? Do you have any other tips you can add? Please leave a comment below!