Brave Writer, Homeschooling, Literature

Shakespeare for Kids: Introducing The Bard to my Babies

Introducing the Bard to my Babies. Yes. I wanted the alliteration in my title, even though my “babies” are actually in 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th grade. But they will always be my babies, so I went with it.

We are ending our school year by spending some time with William Shakespeare.

Not literally. Obviously. Because he died in 1616.  But we are spending time learning about his life, his plays, and his words. The kids are having a great time and learning a ton.

Ideas and resources to help you introduce William Shakespeare to your kids.

To support our efforts and my plan at home, we signed up for a Brave Writer Shakespeare class.  This class is offered to the whole family for one price.  We all participate in the assignments under one registration.  So far the class has been a lot of fun and very informative.  The material supports and encourages my efforts at home.

We started with an overview of Shakespeare’s life and The Globe Theater.   It is easy to find a ton of great books to support and encourage a study of Shakespeare with your children.  The ones we used below are just the ones that happened to be available to us or I wanted to purchase.  You can certainly do some more searching yourself as there is plenty out there.

This website was perfect as an introduction to “Why Study Shakespeare” with my kids.  We viewed the second video where Michael Rosen explains why Shakespeare is so great.

Shakespeare for Kids: Resources

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William Shakespeare & the Globe written and illustrated by Aliki is my favorite basic overview book so far.

The story of Shakespeare’s life and the history of the Globe Theater are told in the style of his own plays.  There is a prologue and then five acts, each with a number of scenes.  Although the basic organization is that of a play, the writing is done in normal paragraph form.

A Shakespearean Theater by Jacqueline Morley with detailed illustrations by John James was an excellent resource for more information about the history of the theater during the days of Shakespeare.  Information about performances, the stage, and the audience is included as well.  There are great visuals in this book as well.

Information about performances, the stage, and the audience is included as well.  There are great visuals in this book as well.

The Usborne Internet-linked World of Shakespeare (Internet Linked) is an informative reference book.

This resource is not a story book to just sit and read to the kids. This is the kind of book to tackle one section at a time or look up specific topics that interest you.

Of course, Who Was William Shakespeare by Celeste Davidson Mannis with illustrations by John O’Brien is a title in a well-known series for early chapter book readers.

Read it out loud or assign as an independent read. Like the other Shakespeare titles, the history of Shakespeare is linked to the history of theater in London, specifically The Globe Theater.  Readers will learn quite a bit about the Globe theater as well as Shakespeare in this book.

I have saved my favorite book for last in this list.  Will’s Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk by Jane Sutcliffe and wonderfully illustrated by John Shelley.

I used this book as an introduction to our reading of various Shakespeare plays.

The book contains a basic history of the theater scene in London.  The “story” is written on the left-hand side of the book with certain phrases are in bold font. William Shakespeare is credited as first using the boldfaced words.  On the right-hand side page, the meaning of the words or phrases and the play in which they appear are explained.

We had so much fun with this book.  As I read it to the kids, they tried to raise their hands when I read a phrase from Shakespeare.  They caught on quickly that many of his phrases are idioms and we had a fun time sharing them.  I loved this book and it went on my wish list immediately.

After an overview of Shakespeare, we moved on to looking at his poems and plays.

Have you introduced your kids to The Bard?  What have been your favorite resources?

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Books and Tips for reading Shakespeares plays with your kids.

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Ideas, tips and resources to help you teach and enjoy Shakespeare with kids.

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6 Comments

  • Reply Lise April 29, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    Funny….as I read the rest of your recommendations, I was going to recommend “Will’s Words.” We, too, had it from the library recently, and immediately put it on my wish list.

    We also recently borrowed and enjoyed “Shakespeare’s Seasons.” Beautiful art with short quotes. Would be good for a poetry teatime.

    • Reply notbefore7@gmail.com April 30, 2016 at 6:42 pm

      Bummer. My library didn’t have that one. We did get “To sleep. Perchance to Dream” which had great quotes by Shakespeare. Thanks for the recommendation!

  • Reply Natasha April 30, 2016 at 1:32 am

    Thanks for this. I can’t wait to show the videos to my kids. We also like the “Shakespeare can be fun” series by Lois Burdett.
    Can’t wait for your next post.

    • Reply notbefore7@gmail.com April 30, 2016 at 6:40 pm

      Thanks Natasha! I will have to look that up!

  • Reply Lynna @hswotrainingwheels April 30, 2016 at 11:27 am

    Love this! Someday I’ll come back and reference this for help. In fact, just looking over your list is encouraging – makes Shakespeare look a little less intimidating and more appealing!

    • Reply notbefore7@gmail.com April 30, 2016 at 6:40 pm

      Thanks girl – you can do it!!! I hope you give it a go in your school year next year.

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