“Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ’em.”

-William Shakespeare

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Why Study Shakespeare?

Shakespeare is notably the most renowned English author in history and so many of our sayings today come from Shakespeare. Isn’t it just logical, then, to introduce our children to such brilliance? You might think, “I never learned any of Shakespeare’s plays before high school, so why do I need to share Shakespeare’s plays with my 6 year-old?” As I stated in my introduction, the earlier we expose our children to beautiful language through great literature, the better writers and thinkers they become. Susan Wise Bauer recommends in her classic, The Well-Trained Mind, that elementary age children read retellings of literary classics so that later, when they are given the originals full of more flowery sentence structures, they will already know the premise and be familiar with the characters. The same holds true for Shakespeare. Read your children the retellings so they may store away the characters and plots for later. So grab a retelling and start reading Shakespeare to your kids!

Memorize Shakespeare Lines

However, don’t stay away from the real thing either. Memorize chunks of Shakespeare.  I have used How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare and appreciated how Ken Ludwig explains the chunks he has deemed important to memorize. Whether or not his choices are indeed the most important is redundant. I’d like to assert that any Shakespeare is good to memorize. The thing is that he takes the passage he wants you to memorize and analyzes it, helps you understand the vocabulary, and leads you through every little bit. See, I never grasped Shakespeare in high school and I have pretty much cowered in a corner hiding from his works ever since, so I needed something well spelled out to jump start my confidence.  

The Next Steps

As we have gained confidence with Shakespeare, we have progressed to his actual plays. We listen as we read along. Our favorite recordings of Shakespeare are the Arkangel recordings. I recommend A Midsummer’s Night Dream or The Tempest as a good first play for younger children. We like to use props to help our listening and reading.

Shakespeare Resources

Free Shakespeare Retellings: Tales from Shakespeare or the audio version, and Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare (or its audio version)

Or purchase them if you prefer physical books: Tales from Shakespeare (kindle edition)
or  Beautiful Stories From Shakespeare (free for kindle at the time of writing)

Jim Weiss’ Shakespeare for Children – make sure you listen to samples at his website to make sure you like it before puchasing.  Not everyone likes his reading style.

Ordo Amoris has shared 10 possible passages for memorization.

Shakespeare for the baby crowd?

Do you think children should be read Shakespeare early?  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

This is Day 4 of Five Days of Sharing Poetry with your Kids. Read the intro, Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3 if you haven’t already.