Though I find great enjoyment in reading Shakespeare's plays and sonnets, I have shied away from sharing Shakespeare's plays with my younger children in the past. Since our oldest now reached seventh grade, I thought we ought to read more than the sonnets. Laying aside my apprehension, we embarked on a mini unit including all the children from preschool through seventh grade.
A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet, and Hamlet. Instead of reading the originals, we tried illustrated storybooks of the plays retold by Bruce Coville. The younger children were enthralled with these read alouds, and they served as a great introduction to the story lines and characters for our older children. Afterward, the older children sought out more Shakespeare to read. They tried some of the stories found in Charles and Mary Lamb's Tales From Shakespeare.
For a biography of William Shakespeare, we read Bard of Avon, by Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema. This is an illustrated text offering a summary of his life, relationships, and work on a level that interested the younger children, but did not overwhelm them.
For a fun historical fiction account involving Shakespeare, our oldest son read The Shakespeare Stealer, by Gary Blackwood. It is the first in a three book series about a young orphan boy living in England who works at the Globe Theatre.
All in all, I am glad this year, we chose to study Shakespeare and his works a bit more closely.
Linking to Read-Aloud Thursday at Hope is the Word.