Shimmying up to Shakespeare

My 9 year old has developed a deep and abiding love for all things Shakespeare. Back in February we inadvertently introduced her to King Lear when we read a picture book called Anook the Snow Princess. Since then, we have had lots of conversations about Shakespeare’s plays, but more than anything else, we have found a wealth of truly amazing books that help bring Shakespeare to life.*


Teaching your children to understand the stories that Shakespeare wrote and the world in which he lived is a great way to open their eyes to a world of creativity. We haven’t focused on any of the old English, but I would love to find a way to bring some of the bard’s poetry in as well. What thrills me is that there are wonderful resources out there to encourage a love of his works.

J’s absolute favorite book that we have is the Usborne Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare. From lively comedy to dark tragedy, with clowns, witches and a doomed romance, this wonderful collection has six of Shakespeare’s best-loved plays. In this durable collection, young readers can discover the stories of Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and The Tempest, all beautifully retold for easy reading. The text is mainly told in modern styles, but from time to time there are direct quotes from the stories written in italics, almost like speech bubbles.hamlet spread

J has read this book from cover to cover multiple times. She is shocked that so many people perish in the end, but we have to explain to her that that is simply a part of how plays were written long ago. Her favorite at the moment is Twelfth Night.  Having her read and enjoy this book has opened up conversations about how Romeo and Juliet is the basis for West Side Story, one of my all-time-favorite musicals, and how so many people have been inspired by Shakespeare’s works.

romeo spread

Once she was completely entranced with the stories themselves, we moved on to another book that engages her in a hunt and search method while also informing her about additional plays. In “Where’s Will“, readers get to explore ten of William Shakespeare’s most exciting, funny, and powerful plays. Each play has a spread that gives young readers a summary of the story, allows them to meet the characters, and find out what they are up to. Then turn the page and you get to find Will and all of the characters in a “Where’s Waldo” style hunt.

For our long car rides, J loves to do sticker books. She initially got hooked doing sticker dolly dressing books, but we have now discovered a wealth of titles that are not only fun sticker books, but also educational. One of these titles is Sticker Dressing Shakespeare. These are hands on books that allow kids to learn about the fashions utilized in the plays as well as learn little bits about the plays themselves.

A brand new title that starts children understanding the world that Shakespeare lived in and how his plays were produced is See Inside the World of Shakespeare. Through engaging lift-the-flaps, kids can travel back 400 years to visit rowdy playhouses and royal palaces and discover Shakespeare’s tales of doomed princes and mischievous fairies causing trouble.

Finally, for those who are older and really ready to get into meaty information about the Bard, there is the beautifully produced World of Shakespeare. This 64 page reference guide shows how Shakespeare’s world was full of danger, excitement and change. Elizabethan London was filthy, crowded, crime-ridden, hazardous, thrilling and inspiring. But the theaters, situated in the scruffier parts of town, provided popular places of entertainment. Shakespeare’s plays tell tales of love, jealousy, betrayal, revenge, corruption, family, feuds, ghosts, witches, and murder. Discover how Shakespeare lived, and why, hundreds of years later, his works are still being performed, interpreted and adapted all over the world.

I love that my daughter has gotten interested in Shakespeare and I will do all that I can to encourage her to learn more about him. For additional titles, check out this guest post on Pragmatic Mom.

*Note – Most of these books are published by Usborne Books & More. I am an independent Usborne Consultant and the links are back to my website.




Leave a Reply