Saturday, January 22, 2011

Introducing Shakespeare to Children

My introduction to Shakespeare, as a child, came through a working knowledge of Kings James' English, thanks to the Bible translation preference of the day, and a copy of Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare, given to me by my grandmother.

My children carry modern English translations of the Bible, and haven't spent much time in Sunday school paraphrasing verses from King James' version, into today's English. So, there's no help for Elizabethan English (which is very similar to King James') there.

And, while I still have Charles and Mary Lamb's volume on the shelf (you can read the entire volume at Google books), given that it was originally written in the 1800's, and the last revision to my volume was in 1939, it's nearly as difficult for the children to read, as the original plays.

I tried a newer children's version - E Nesbit's Tales of Shakespeare, Told for Children, from the library. But, although it's pretty easy to read, the children were put off by the old fashioned, black and white, pen drawn, illustrations.

They were far more interested in Amulet Books' Manga Shakespeare series.

The picture to the side, is of G (age 11), and A (age 9), devouring Much Ado About Nothing, Elizabethan English, and all.

I'll admit, the Manga style illustrations, and the choppy, comic book, presentation of the plays, makes me dizzy. But, G has been reading through the comedies, and romances, quite happily. And, seems to be understanding them. Which is fun to see.

So far, all the children (ages 4-13) have enjoyed watching the BBC's Animated Shakespeare series, too. They use a variety of animated styles, and include some of the original text, though in condensed versions. They come in a 4 DVD set, with 3 plays per DVD, most of which can also be found on YouTube (click here for more information about the series, and YouTube links).

Or, find out what other families are reading this week, at the What My Child is Reading blog hop, hosted by Mouse Grows, Mouse Learns.

It's great to be a homeschooler.


Phyllis said...

We love both Lambs and Nesbits translations, but our favorites by far for the new-to-Shakespeare is the Bruce Coville books. Even my older kids love them. I am going to be posting some how to read Shakespearean Language soon, you might like. (Sorry, no Manga for us.)

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

Manga Shakespeare sounds really fascinating - I am glad it works for the girls. I have to keep it in mind when Anna gets older.

Christy Killoran said...

Very interesting! Thanks for the reviews!

LitLass said...

The closest we've come to Shakespeare has been the Magic Tree House book about him. I think my 8-year-old would probably like the manga version, though.