Shakespeare Resources

Great tools to help you introduce Shakespeare to your kids.

Helps for teachers and parents who want to introduce Shakespeare to their students.

 

In a previous article I made the case for teaching Shakespeare to your students. If you haven’t read that article you can find it here.

Or if you are interested in background information that is helpful when teaching Shakespeare you can check here.

As promised, here are some resources I recommend

This is a wonderful resource. Brightest Heaven of Invention by Peter J. Leithart will give you all you need to teach 6 of Shakespeare’s plays. This is a Christian guide and one I refer to constantly.

I go back to this book each time I teach Shakespeare and each time gain something new. Teaching Shakespeare by Rex Gibson is a great resource to keep on hand.

Any of the Shakespeare Set Free series by Folger’s Shakespeare will walk you through teaching three Shakespeare plays.  The plays are chosen because of similar themes, and provide a natural contrast to one another. Highly recommend these.

Again, I’m a big fan of Shakespeare’s language, but if this is your first venture into Shakespeare, or if you have younger students, the No Fear series can be a great tool. These books have the original Shakespeare on one page, and on the opposite page is a modern English translation. Once students can follow the plot and understand what the characters are saying, they can read the original language, understand the new vocabulary, and appreciate the plays complexities with more confidence.

It’s never to early to introduce your children to the works of Shakespeare. Babylit board books are AMAZING. I’m a huge fan. They are board books based on great works of literature. There is a Romeo and Juliet one that is a primer on numbers. This one, inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a fairies primer. The illustrations and quotes are fantastic. If you need a creative baby gift check out all of the  Babylit books.

This series is written by a school teacher, and is for ages 7 and up. The books are written in rhyming couplets and introduce children to the plays in an accessible way. These books are also suitable for putting on a ‘theater’ production with small groups of children.

These tales are another perfect introduction to Shakespeare. Long considered classics in their own right, Charles and Mary Lamb vividly bring to life many of Shakespeare’s plays.  These paraphrases retain the beautiful language and the drama of the plays. These can be read aloud to younger children, but I find kids need to be in mid to upper elementary school to truly enjoy these re-tellings.

 

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Shakespeare’s England

Great background information to inform you study of Shakespeare

Lots of great information here to help when teaching ShakespeareUnderstanding a few things about the era that Shakespeare lived can make reading his plays simpler and more meaningful.

Shakespeare was born during the rein of Queen Elizabeth 1, or the Elizabethan Age. For an actor and a playwright, this was a boon. Before this time actors were at the bottom rungs of society. Most assumed actors were cheats and scoundrels, and public theaters rarely lasted long.

However, Queen Elizabeth enjoyed the theater and great advances in the Arts were made during her reign. She was the last ruler of the Tudor dynasty and she was a force to be reckoned with. She had beaten the Spanish Armada, a feat that had seemed impossible at the time, and had emerged as a dominant power in Europe and the New World.

Within England she was a patron of the arts, and they were thriving. The Renaissance had arrived in England and with it incredible advances in art, science, scholarship and literature. (Italy had started the Renaissance, or rebirth, of Europe over 100 years earlier.) For the first time actors and playwrights were financially thriving and gaining respect and status.

This was also the era of the Reformation, a time of Religious upheaval that had many groups breaking from Catholicism and loyalty to the Pope.  In England this movement began when Henry VIII split from the Catholic Church and founded the Protestant Church of England. This was done because the Pope refused to allow Henry to divorce his first wife and marry Anne Boelyn, Queen Elizabeth’s mother. The Reformation took on different characteristics in different countries in Europe. In England it caused a great deal of unrest and violence, both before and after the reign of Elizabeth. However, during her reign, their was relative peace within England. (more…)

Why Shakespeare?

To teach or not to teach Shakespeare that is the question.

Don't let your fear of Shakespearre keep you from enjoying and teaching it. I admit, I’m one of the nerds who loves Shakespeare. I was introduced to the Bard in Jr. High in a drama class, and was asked to compete in a Shakespeare Festival performing a soliloquy from King Lear. While I’m sure my performance was sadly lacking, I was able to watch performances by some very talented students, and I was hooked.

In high school I had excellent English teachers (Thank you Miss Irwin) who furthered my appreciation. Then, the summer after high school, I had the good fortune to travel and study in Europe. During that summer I visited Stratford (Shakespeare’s home town) studied Hamlet at Cambridge, and saw several productions by the Royal Shakespeare Company. It was glorious and I was officially a fan.

Perhaps your experience with Shakespeare was a little less positive, and frankly, if you never have to read or see another play you’ll be perfectly content. You are certainly not alone

But, as Hamlet would say, “There’s the rub.” You’re homeschooling now. You’re responsible for your child’s education…and Shakespeare seems to be on everyone’s list of subjects that should be tackled. But why? Perhaps if you understand why Shakespeare and why a play, you’ll be motivated to give it another chance. And, at the end of this article, I’ll link you to a few excellent resources to help you in your endeavor.

Shakespeare deals with enduring themes that remain relevant to every new generation of readers. The emotions and situations that are explored are at once familiar and recognizable across time and cultures.

If you are human, the characters, plots, and themes are relevant. The plays explore family relationships, love, power, morality, politics, wealth, and death. Emotions such as hate, anger, despair, jealousy, courage, and wonder are examined and expressed with passion and empathy, (more…)