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Shakespeare background/book for after "Bard of Avon"; 7th grade

shakespeare bard of avon diane stanley biography

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#1 serendipitous journey

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Posted 27 January 2018 - 11:21 PM

Our Memoria Press work this year schedules Bard of Avon, which my child already read with Ambleside.  I'll probably have him re-read it and do the MP work orally, but would like to go a bit deeper; the child is not wild about Shakespeare, though he sometimes enjoys it, and we've read 2-3 plays aloud in the original (first we watch a BBC video short version unless it is a tragedy, then using No Fear Shakespeare we do plain English, then finally Shakespearean English). 

 

Any suggestions?  I was thinking maybe

 

Shakespeare for Kids; we don't tend to get a lot of retention from this series, but it does build familiarity. 

Who Was William Shakespeare?  -- I do like this series. 

Or -- just found this, now it is my current favorite -- Shakespeare: His Work and His World, by Michael Rosen and illustrated by Robert Ingpen. 

 

Documentary suggestions also welcome! 

 

Resources recommended downthread:

Bill Bryson's Shakespeare biography.  The version linked is an illustrated & updated one, because I couldn't resist the pretty pictures ... 

Documentaries (you can check youtube & the PBS website for free versions):

In Search of Shakespeare, a documentary. 

Shakespeare Uncovered, Series 1 and Series 2 : the "story behind the stories" of the plays.

 

 

ETA: This child is 12, and he is in 7th grade.  His formal literature works this year include Treasure Island, The Wind in the Willows, Tom Sawyer, MP's selections for American Literature Poetry & Short Stories, and As You Like It. 


Edited by serendipitous journey, 28 January 2018 - 06:03 PM.

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#2 SilverMoon

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Posted 27 January 2018 - 11:41 PM

What age/grade are you aiming at? Shakespeare for Kids was well received here. We did a few of the activities. The apple moye recipe gets repeated for breakfast still. After that we read the Bryson book for an interested kid that was reading the plays herself. Another kiddo read the Rosen one you linked and liked it well enough.

In Search of Shakespeare was a great documentary. We also really enjoyed the Shakespeare Uncovered episodes for plays we were reading.


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#3 serendipitous journey

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Posted 28 January 2018 - 12:48 AM

Oh, I forgot to post his age/grade -- I've edited my OP to add that information -- he is 12, in 7th grade.  He is a perfectly strong reader but doesn't love literature; he's more of a science fellow, and cultivating a love of stories is an ongoing project.  He is reveling in our before-bed Sherlock Holmes (we're on a Holmes break to read Asimov's "I, Robot") but I don't think he'd read those on his own. 

 

The Bryson book looks excellent: I thoroughly enjoy his work, and will try to get this to read myself (we are doing a mid-year adjustment and I need to be extra careful with my money, I hadn't anticipated this ... and in my hands, library books are more expensive than purchased ones :blush: ).  And: the documentary & stories-behind-Shakespeare videos are right up our alley.  Thank you!  I'll add these to the list above. 



#4 Farrar

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Posted 28 January 2018 - 09:59 AM

The Bill Bryson book is a quick, enjoyable read. It's really short, and like you said, Bryson is a very engaging writer. It would definitely be my top pick for a middle schooler who needed something beyond a children's book but nothing too overwhelming.


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#5 SilverMoon

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Posted 28 January 2018 - 05:25 PM

In that case my vote goes to the Bryson book first, and if Bryson seems like too much I'd go with Rosen. :)

(Some of those Shakespeare Uncovered episodes used to be free to watch on the PBS website. They rotate around what's available though.)


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#6 poetic license

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 03:29 PM

Oooh, the Bard. I love Shakespeare and I like to think of myself as a Shakespeare-whisperer, lol. 

 

Watching a play is one of the best ways to hook kids on Shakespeare--Branagh's Much Ado About Nothing, Tennant's Hamlet, Branagh's Henry V and the Hollow Crown series are all good places to start. As we are watching, I'll give my kids the background info about what's going on in the scene--a running commentary of sorts, just enough to help them understand what is going on. 

 

Also, just offering tasters of the language, such as well-written passages and funny or interesting dialogues really hooks kids in.

 

In my online classes, I show my students clips from the RSC plays. They love those as they are just so well done. I try to pick passages that are particularly dramatic so that they can really get pulled into Shakespeare and so that I can whet their appetite for it.

 

I tell my students to try to enjoy Shakespeare as a whole first, and not to be fussed about understanding every word. Watch the scene (with a bit of background explanation first, perhaps), and just enjoy it. Then, read and discuss it, and then re-watch, seeing how much more you can understand and appreciate it.

 

Sometimes even just listening to his words flow over you like music can be entertaining and instructive. This version of Lear is fantastic, as are others from this same series: 

 

Pair it with Ian Pollock's creepy graphic novel version, which contains the unabridged text: https://www.goodread...rated_King_Lear

 

Peter Saccio has some nice Shakespeare programs from the Great Courses. I love Shakespeare Uncovered as well. Folger Shakespeare Library has some nice podcasts and resources. 

 

I love Ben Crystal's work as well: http://springboardshakespeare.com/

 

Is that enough or should I keep going?  :lol:


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#7 serendipitous journey

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 05:59 PM


Is that enough or should I keep going?  :lol:

 

Clearly this was too easy for you! 

 

Okay, here's another one: Greek Comedy for elementary & middle school.  Lay it on me ...

 

(I was wondering why there wasn't anything available until I started reading Aristophanes ;).  I'd give anything for an early exposure to Clouds and Lysistrata.  Well, almost anything.  As it is, I suppose it'll have to be me condensing the stories already condensed by the Great Courses "Famous Greek" prof. )

 

ETA: forgot to say: thank you for the excellent recommendations! 


Edited by serendipitous journey, 01 February 2018 - 06:00 PM.


#8 Farrar

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 06:22 PM

Dh is an actor and was in a version of Lysistrata. He played the male... member. There was a costume. I think Aristophanes would have loved it. Ahem... it's not one of the shows the kids saw him in.


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#9 poetic license

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Posted 01 February 2018 - 11:21 PM

Clearly this was too easy for you! 

 

Okay, here's another one: Greek Comedy for elementary & middle school.  Lay it on me ...

 

(I was wondering why there wasn't anything available until I started reading Aristophanes ;).  I'd give anything for an early exposure to Clouds and Lysistrata.  Well, almost anything.  As it is, I suppose it'll have to be me condensing the stories already condensed by the Great Courses "Famous Greek" prof. )

 

ETA: forgot to say: thank you for the excellent recommendations! 

 

Ah, Greek comedy is definitely not my forte at all. For something comedic and Greek inspired and on the Shakespeare theme, Troilus and Cressida is a riot and is rather tongue-in-cheek about the Iliad. That said, it's fairly bawdy, so... 

 

These are a few more Shakespeare resources I like:

https://www.amazon.c...k/dp/B00QIFK32Q

 

https://www.amazon.c...s/dp/1681772604

 

Youtube lectures by Ben Crystal on original pronounciation

 

fascinating discussion on "Is Othello Racist?" 

 

This is the speech and clip that got my kids hooked on Shakespeare. It's the Royal Shakespeare Company's first all-black cast, and they have set Julius Caesar in Africa. It's an amazing version of the "Friends, Romans, countrymen" speech, and it's pretty much spoiled me on other versions: 

 

Dh is an actor and was in a version of Lysistrata. He played the male... member. There was a costume. I think Aristophanes would have loved it. Ahem... it's not one of the shows the kids saw him in.

 

 

:laugh:


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#10 serendipitous journey

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Posted 02 February 2018 - 01:33 AM

poetic license, you are a treasure! 

 

"bawdy" is the word for it.  Around here, that's much better than the "gory" of the tragedies and I would tackle one of them with my older child if the tricksy language didn't give him headaches.  Maybe live performance would be the way to go.  I'd definitely pre-view. 

 

ETA: we sometimes watch John Oliver's "Last Night This Week" for current events, and some of the language is Language.  We discuss which words are really not to be used, and ESPECIALLY not used at church. 

 

Then I overheard my older child explaining to my husband, "Mama told us not to use those words at church.  The funny thing is, I've only ever heard them at church before." 

 

!!!  it's the teenagers.  At any rate, now we call them "church words". 


Edited by serendipitous journey, 02 February 2018 - 01:39 AM.

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