How to Make Teaching Shakespeare to Your Kids Be Fun and Educational (for Mommy and Daddy Too)

How to teach Shakespeare to your children

Shakespeare?  What does Shakespeare have to do with anything in today's world?  Why should I think about Shakespeare let alone teach my children about him?  What are his plays about anyway?  One is called A Midsummer Night's Dream.

You may have heard of Shakesperae, but what is Midsummer Night’s Dream? If you have ever watched the Baby Shakespeare DVD from the Baby Einstein Company, then you have heard the following poem:

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,

Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,

Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,

With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.

But, you may not know that this is from William Shakespeare’s play entitled A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a romantic comedy by William Shakespeare. All of the characters are fictitious, but it is thought that Shakespeare may have been influenced by Geoffrey’s Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales in his developing of the characters for this age-old play dated back to the 1500's, middle ages.

The main plot of A Midsummer Night's Dream is a complex farce that involves two sets of couples whose romantic intrigues are confused and complicated still further by entering the forest where the King of the Fairies and his Queen preside. Be warned that there are references to fairies and witches, but the main themes illustrated in the play are that Love triumphs in the end and that there is truly pleasure in dreaming the impossible dream. If you dig even deeper into the background to the name of the play, you’ll find that the feast of John the Baptist was celebrated as an English festival on June 24 (Midsummer Day) It was believed that on Midsummer Night supernatural events and festivals took place during dreams. Hence, the introduction of fairies and such to the story.

If you are looking for more fun ways to teach Shakespeare to your children, the Shakespeare Can Be Fun series by Lois Burdett is an excellent way to introduce this playwright’s many works. The author takes Shakespeare’s entire works and puts them into a poetic, flowing version that is easy on children’s attention spans while leaving the crux of his works intact. It’s helpful for mom and dad as well.  As a parent, you may even find yourself on the edge of your seat as the words of Shakespeare actually flow off of your tongue.  You'll begin to recognize lines you've heard all your life but may never have realized they were from Shakespeare.  The books also offer suggestions for lesson plans. You can purchase these books in a variety of places including a sometimes good find on Ebay, Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Or go directly to the Firefly publisher and type in author's name, Lois Burdett. You can even find teacher guides for instructing children in Shakspearean arts elsewhere on the internet.

So, pick up a book today to learn more about Shakespeare or to just have fun. “To learn or not to learn?” that is the question that you can answer with a hearty yes - to learn!  Once you do, you're sure to have a great time.  You'll watch as your children come away with excitement and a deeper education of the arts, history & literature.  They may even ask you to read more Shakespeare at bedtime.


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