The Best Books to Easily Introduce your Kids to Shakespeare

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Yes! Believe it or not, Shakespeare is for kids!

And one great way to introduce your kids to Shakespeare is to introduce them to his life and works. Books are a wonderful way to introduce your children to this famous playwright in fun and creative ways.

Then when you are ready, I also plenty of ideas about reading Shakespeare’s play with kids too!

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Shakespeare for Kids

Parents are often intimidated by the language and the words of Shakespeare. It’s completely understandable, but it isn’t a reason to avoid incorporating his life and works into your homeschool plans.

There are so many great resources that support parents as they introduce their kids to Shakespeare, beginning with his life and times. Then you can gently introduce the language and words he used before you dive into reading Shakespeare plays with kids.

We keep our time with Shakespeare very light-hearted and fun, but I am confident that my kids are establishing a great foundation in Shakespeare that will serve them well in high school and beyond.

Shakespeare Books for Kids: Introducing Shakespeare

Books are a great way to introduce Shakespeare to kids. Many are written and illustrated for kids on this topic so they can learn more without feeling intimidated or overwhelmed.

From learnings about his life to a basic introduction to his words and plays, these books are an excellent way to introduce Shakespear to Kids.

William Shakespeare & the Globe
Aliki

This is my favorite basic overview book so far. The story of Shakespeare’s life and the history of the Globe Theater is 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 of the book is that of a play, the writing is done in normal paragraph form.


A Shakespearean Theater
Jacqueline Morley

This book is 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.


Who Was William Shakespeare
Celeste Davidson Mannis

Read it out loud or assign it 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.

Combine it with this fantastic (and inexpensive) unit study

This unit study about William Shakespeare is full of fun printables and games.


Will’s Words: How William Shakespeare
Changed the Way You Talk
Jane Sutcliffe

This book contains a basic history of the theater scene in London. The “story” is written on the left-hand side of the book and contains certain phrases in bold font. William Shakespeare is credited as the first person to use the words that are written in boldfaced in the book.

On the right-hand side page, the meaning of the words or phrases and the play in which they appear are explained.

Our family learned so much while reading this book. As I read it to the kids, they tried to raise their hands when they thought 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 so much that my mom bought it for me as a gift.


Shakespeare Books for Kids: His Plays

The books included below will introduce your children to the plays of Shakespeare. Some will introduce them to famous passages and others will introduce them to the stories behind the plays.

How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare
Ken Ludwig

Introduce your children to some of the well-known passages of Shakespeare and memorize them together.

Publisher’s Description: “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. Ludwig’s approach includes understanding of the time period and implications of Shakespeare’s diction as well as the invaluable lessons behind his words and stories. Colorfully incorporating the history of Shakespearean theater and society, How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare guides readers on an informed and adventurous journey through the world in which the Bard wrote.
 
This book’s simple process allows anyone to impart to children the wisdom of plays like A Midsummer Night’s DreamTwelfth Night, Macbeth, and Romeo and Juliet. And there’s fun to be had throughout. Shakespeare novices and experts and readers of all ages will each find something delightfully irresistible in How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare.


A Stage Full of Shakespeare Stories
Angela McAllister

Publisher’s Description: “Get lost in Shakespeare’s most loved stories with this beautiful anthology of some of the most popular stories in the world. Introduce the children in your life to a collection of the most important stories ever written, collected and retold by the much-loved author Angela McAllister. Featuring classics such as The TempestA Midsummer Night’s DreamRomeo and JulietHamlet, and Othello, each story is rewritten in a comprehensive way that is accessible for children. This perfectly sized anthology is stunningly illustrated by collage artist Alice Lindstrom whose incredible artwork makes these stories dance to life before your very eyes.”


Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare
Shakespeare

Publisher’s Description: T”his is a wonderful collection of six retellings of William Shakespeare’s best-loved plays – a perfect mix of comedy, tragedy, magic and romance, retold for younger readers. It is full of colourful illustrations from the Usborne Young Reading Programme. It contains the plays “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “Hamlet”, “Macbeth”, “Romeo and Juliet”, “The Tempest”, and “Twelfth Night”. It also includes a section at the back on the life and times of Shakespeare.”


Leon Garfield’s Shakespeare Stories
Leon Garfield

Publisher’s Description: “…Here twenty-one of the Bard’s plays are refashioned into stories that are true to the wit, the humor, the wisdom, the sublime heights, the terrifying depths, and above all the poetry of their great originals. Throughout, Garfield skillfully weaves in Shakespeare’s own words, accustoming young readers to language and lines that might at first seem forbiddingly unfamiliar.”


Shakespeare Can Be Fun
Lois Burdett

Lois Burdett, the author, has transformed the complexity of Shakespeare’s plays into rhyming couplets. This series is meant to be enjoyed by children from the age of 7.


Shakespeare’s Stories for Young Readers
E. Nesbit

Publisher’s Description: “Twelve of Shakespeare’s greatest tales come to life in this entertaining collection of short, lively stories specially adapted for young readers. Capturing the vital events and using some of the original wording, the stories serve as a perfect introduction to Shakespeare for preteens and as literate refreshers for older folks.”


The best books to introduce your children to Shakespeare.

Shakespeare Books for Kids: Picture Books

Picture books are an excellent way to introduce young children to the stories and language of Shakespeare. They can also be a good way to introduce older children and tweens to the stories of Shakespeare.

William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Georghia Ellinas

Publisher’s Description: “Retold for a picture book audience, the Bard’s mischievous take on love run amok in fairyland meets its match in luminous illustrations by Jane Ray.

If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber’d here . . .

Retold from Puck’s point of view in simple, accessible language, peppered with quotes from Shakespeare’s original play, and brought to life in Jane Ray’s lush, moonlit illustrations, this introduction to the Bard’s most enchanting comedy hints at the richness of his work while being a lovely keepsake edition in its own right.”


To Sleep, Perchance To Dream: A Child’s Book of Rhymes
William Shakespeare

Publisher’s Description: “The classic writings of William Shakespeare are brought to life with beautifully rendered illustrations, in a wonderful collection of verses that will enchant young readers.”


Flibbertigibbety Words
Donna Guthrie

Publisher’s Description: “With quotes and sly references to the famous works of William Shakespeare and the words he invented, this adventurous ode to language will delight readers young and old.

It all starts one morning when words fly into William’s window. He wants to catch them, but they are flibbertigibbety and quick and slip right through his fingers. Soon whole lines of verse are leading him on a wild goose chase as they tumble, dip, flip and skip all through town, past a host of colorful characters the observant reader may find as familiar as the quotes. William remains persistent, and with time and the proper tools he finds a way to keep the words with him.”


Shakespeare Books for Kids: Learning Activities

Introduce your kids to Shakespeare with some of these fun art, craft, and learning activities.

Shakespeare for Kids: His Life and Times, 21 activities
Colleen Aagesen

Help your kids experience life in William Shakespeare’s England and learn more about Shakespeare with this biography and activity book. They will have fun with activities such as swordplay and juggling. Activities include ideas such as making a quill pen, binding a book by hand, and creating a pomander ball. This book will help you introduce your kids to Elizabethan England and Shakespeare in a fun way.


The Shakespeare Timeline Stickerbook
Christopher Lloyd and Dr. Nick Walton

Publisher’s Description: “Created in association with The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and set in London’s iconic Globe Theatre, this totally unique, amazing timeline sticker book has 100 peel-off stickers of the colorful characters from Shakespeare’s life and times. Beautifully-illustrated and hugely engaging, the 5.5-foot long timeline has captioned, white silhouettes showing where to place your stickers to help you build your own Shakespearean drama.”


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

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6 thoughts on “The Best Books to Easily Introduce your Kids to Shakespeare”

  1. 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.

    1. notbefore7@gmail.com

      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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

    1. notbefore7@gmail.com

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

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