Happy Shakespeare Day!
People around the globe are celebrating all that is brilliant about the bard as the 23rd April marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
Shakespeare wrote plays and poetry that are enormously rewarding to read, act and watch, and they are great for reading with children. Sometimes his works are seen as inaccessible or elitist, but the fact that they are still loved more than 400 years later is testament to the subtle richness of his language, universality of his plot devices, and relatability of his characters. There is something in Shakespeare for everyone, and whatever your children find will be sure to touch them forever.
Are your children struggling to take an interest in Shakespeare? Take a look at our favourite books below to help them nurture a love of the lyric.
Mini – 0-7 years
by Jane Bingham
What would it be like to grow up in Tudor England? What would everyday life be like? What if you just happened to be a gifted young playwright called Shakespeare? This book lets you find out – not just by reading but by doing things and making stuff. (Learning ought to be fun, right?) Learn about Shakespeare’s family life, his world-famous plays and the busy theatres of Tudor London. You’ll read about a boy actor’s life, and even get to make your own model theatre!
XD – 7-11 years
Shakespeare Stories Box Set
by William Shakespeare and Tony Ross
A box of the Bard. The funniest retellings: so much crazy drama that Tony Ross did pictures all the way through. Expect all the intrigue, humour and excitement of the original plays. In brand new funny stories full of gags and cheeky artwork. (You can see that Tony Ross had heaps of fun drawing Shakey’s famous characters.) All supplied in a handsome box set to dress up your bookshelf. What’s not to like?
Horribly Famous: William Shakespeare and his Dramatic Acts
by Andrew Donkin and Clive Goddard
A Horrible look at the brilliant Bard, with chuckles on every page. You’ve probably heard of William Shakespeare. He is dead famous for: writing a few plays, having a bit of a way with words, and creating characters like romantic Romeo and murderous Macbeth. But did you know that our Will did a seven-year vanishing act, nearly had his head chopped off by the Queen, and nicked an entire theatre? Yes – even though he’s dead, Shakey’s still full of drama!
Teen – 11+
Tales from Shakespeare
by Mary Lamb and Charles Lamb
Alas! Poor Shakespeare! If you don’t know him well, grab this quick chance to fix that glaring hole in your cultural education. Twenty of Shakespeare’s classic plays retold in brilliant short stories. Or to put it another way, around 60 hours of theatre time in one shortish book. All the drama. No numb bum. All the favourites are in here: Hamlet, The Tempest, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet. All the crucial points you need to remember for your English essays are here too. What we like best of all is that, though they’re short and simple, these stories keep the feel and power of the real thing. That’s why they’re classics in their own right.
Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary
‘There is no darkness but ignorance’, says the Bard. So find out what all his tricky words and quotes mean! We love Shakey. But we have to admit, he takes a bit of decoding. Want to enjoy his verses more and scratch your head a bit less? Look no further. From A to Z, here are the words and meanings you need to know to make sense of him. All with example phrases from his most famous plays. Plus colour pictures and feature sections on stuff like stage directions, clothes, armour, music and olde-worlde swearing. Tee hee. ‘Knowledge is the wing wherewith we fly to heaven’. And pass our English exams.