Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Experiencing Shakespeare

One of the best reasons for home schooling my children was getting to read lots of books! Another was learning along with them. Since our culture is replete with Shakespearean quotes, references, and vocabulary, the study of William Shakespeare was essential. So when we started Shakespeare, I was eager to find books that were interesting as well as informational. I found numerous resources that enriched our study and wanted to share 4 of them with you. These four books are aimed at upper elementary aged kids, but can be used with older kids, supplementing with other resources. I know I learned from these books, as age doesn't seem to matter if the book is well written. These books enriched our study and taught us much about the life and times of William Shakespeare

The first is William Shakespeare's Macbeth as retold by Bruce Coville with pictures by Gary Kelley. This is a prose adaptation for younger readers to whet their appetites for the Bard. I love the illustrations; they draw you in to the tale. It is a bitter tale, but one that reveals what happens to a person filled with greed and a desire for power at all costs. A good lesson to learn.

The next book, The Bard of Avon by Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema, tells the story of Shakespeare himself. It is a simple biography that reveals his life and the era in which he wrote. In it you can learn about his childhood, about why the "University Wits" were jealous of Shakespeare and about why his historical plays were so popular.Also, did you know that the Bard wrote his plays based on the actors?  Find out about Shakespeare and the Globe Theater. This short book contains a lot of interesting information.

If you want to know more about the Globe Theater, then get a hold of William Shakespeare and the Globe, written and illustrated by Aliki. This book, unlike The Bard of Avon, is more a "story of Shakespeare's world in Elizabethan England."(back cover) and of the rebuilding of the Globe- a dream of Sam Wanamaker that came true in 1997. My favorite part of the book is the list of Words and Expressions. These are words and phrases invented by Shakespeare, some of which are: "in my mind's eye", "not budge and inch" and "alligator". Read the book to find out more.

The last book, Shakespeare for Kids, by Colleen Aagesen and Marcie Blumberg, has 21 activities that tie into the study of Shakespeare's life. Each chapter tells of his life and then gives an activity related to it. Using this book's instructions, we made a hornbook, created a slashed-shirt costume( which the boys wore to the Renaissance Fair), and made goblets(play props). There is also a list of resources in the back that are helpful.

These four books gave my children and I hours of enjoyment as we explored the life of Shakespeare. I hope you share these with your kids, grandkids or just enjoy them yourself. Thanks for "listening".

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