Jump to content

Menu

Our local school district is teaching Shakespeare to 3rd graders! I'm impressed!!


Beth in SW WA
 Share

Recommended Posts

It's a simplier version of Shakespeare than Folger's, Oxford or other standard versions.

 

We're currently studying Hamlet. We read Tales from Shakepeare Hamlet version and are currently reading Lois Burdett's Hamlet which is a very simple version in rhyme which is FUN!

 

Penguin has free study guides for Tales from Shakepeare and More Takes from Shakespeare - join for free to get the answers.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

eareI would love to see a list as well. What retellings are not boring? Shakespeare has a lot of ...adult themes, shall we say that I am not sure younger kids are ready for. Any retellings out there that leave out those?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We, too, start taking our kids to Shakesperean plays (along with lots of other kinds of theatre) when they are quite young. Although each one saw single specific productions earlier, we started buying season tickets to our local Shakespeare theatre (in Orlando, Florida) for my daughter when she was 8, and bought my son his own season pass beginning when he was 7.

 

With the exception of a couple of picture books by Bruce Coville that I happened to find on sale, though, we don't bother with most of the re-tellings or simplified versions. I used to try and make my daughter read the Tales from Shakespeare versions, but she simply hated them. She said they were boring to read and left out or changed too much of the story. Usually, when we have time, I read aloud the full play to them before we go see the live production. If we don't have time in our schedule to read the whole play, we go over a synopsis from Wikipedia or some other source. Sometimes, if there is a specific play I want to cover and I can't find a live production to attend, we'll read and then watch a DVD. We're much more tolerant, though, of sexual imagery than many folks on this forum, I suspect. We don't usually have a lot of trouble finding an acceptable film version.

 

And, for what it's worth, even my 9-year-old son turned up his nose at those No Fear Shakespeare editions. He couldn't see why anyone would want or need "translation" of the original language.

 

--Jenny

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I saw this post and AO's use of Shakespeare all through their years and thought, nice idea. Then I thought about implementing it and realized that I couldn't come up with a kid friendly play. Romeo and Juliet (suicide), MacBeth (murder), Much Ado about Nothing (the window scene), Hamlet (body count), Henry V (war scenes)... I would be comfortable doing these in a couple more years, but right now they seem a bit mature. So, what did you start with?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We do somewhat similarly to Eliana and Jenny as well... I *do* read aloud (or the kids will read to themselves) one or more simpler retellings of a play before we go see it... I'm fond of the Leon Garfield retellings, but we'll also use E. Nesbit's "Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare" or Bruce Coville (most have lovely pictures), etc. Then we go on to the real thing.

 

The kids also have the "Animated Shakespeare" set on dvd. It includes 12 plays pared down to 30 minutes each, each with its own distinctive style of animation, and featuring some of the greatest British actors and actresses voicing the characters. Obviously they're abridged mightily, but the kids have enjoyed watching them in preparation for seeing full-length productions.

 

We also have dvds of a number of Shakespeare adaptations to the screen, and they have watched some of those repeatedly. (Of course, you have to be careful with these and pre-screen, since some things are shown on screen that would not be so explicit in most stage productions.)

 

Chiquirre, as to which to start with... I'm afraid my kids have seen all of the ones you mentioned and questioned. I know ds' first live production was Macbeth when he was five. (He begged and pleaded for me to take him back to see it again, lol.) I can't remember what dd's first was... And this past year, at eight, ds had the opportunity to play the younger of the two princes in the tower in Richard III. It's a tough play for adults to comprehend -- all that evil, ambition, murder, madness -- but he took it all in stride. Shakespeare has provided us endless discussion possibilities, not in a formal, literature-study way, but in a "this is fascinating" way... Shakespeare really is about human nature, and I *want* to discuss that with my kids -- in a safe way, a somewhat distant way -- at this level. There are murders and betrayals in fairy tales and cartoons, and I think these are important things to talk about. I don't watch the nightly news with my kids -- that's too close to home -- but in Shakespeare, you can talk about characters and motivations and choices, good and bad...

 

I do check with someone at the theater before taking my kids to see any given show. Some productions focus more heavily on some aspect or other that I might not consider appropriate for my kids at a certain phase. Or I might decide that it's "okay", but that I want to prepare them in some way...

 

I guess I don't shy away from certain "hard" concepts with my kids. I remember reading Bettelheim's "The Uses of Enchantment" when I was in college, and while I didn't agree with everything he says, the basic premise rang true for me. (For a more contemporary take, dh likes "Killing Monsters" by Gerard Jones, but I'm afraid it's a little too contemporary for me, lol.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

. .. but they both loved Midsummer Night's Dream starting when they were about 3 or 4. In fact, they loved it so much that our whole family dressed as faeries for Halloween the year they were 3 and 6. They watched the recent film version (with Kevin Kline and Rupert Everett) over and over to the point that we all had large sections of it memorized. The only thing I can think of about that one that would be problematic is some brief nudity and mild sexual content.

 

So, unless you count the "in the park" productions they attended while still in a stroller, I guess that would be the first one for both of my kids. Interestingly, they've each gone on to have kind of a special relationship with that play. My daughter had a wonderful opportunity to do a walk-on role as a junior fairy in a professional production when she was about 10. And my son was selected to be a faun in our local ballet company's production when he was 8.

 

With that said, however, the truth is that we've routinely taken them to see whatever plays our local Shakespeare theatre is producing each year. By the time they were 11 and 8, they had seen Othello (complete with murders and suicide and all) and Henry V (both live and on film) and King Lear (Remember "Out vile jelly?") and Julius Caesar (murder again) and Antony and Cleopatra (those darned asps) and any number of comedies complete with the raunchy bits. Our approach has always been to talk about any potential issues in advance, to make sure that our kids understand our moral or ethical position, and then to discuss some more afterwards. One thing that I think has made a difference for us is that so much of their exposure has been through live productions, when everything tends to be less graphic or realistic. And, you know, for the most part, the folks who do bad things in these plays tend to get their commeuppance. So, we tend to emphasize those lessons.

 

Obviously, this is a very personal decision. It has certainly worked very well for our family, however.

 

--Jenny

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Also, be careful about No Fear, Shakespeare. I picked it up No Fear's version of Much Ado last year to use along with a Folger's Edition for my middle-school girls book club. Yikes! Some of the translation was really vulgar and more than any of these girls had ever heard! The original Shakespeare would have gone right over their heads and not made nearly the stir that No Fear did. :o

 

HTH,

Lisa

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I saw this post and AO's use of Shakespeare all through their years and thought, nice idea. Then I thought about implementing it and realized that I couldn't come up with a kid friendly play. Romeo and Juliet (suicide), MacBeth (murder), Much Ado about Nothing (the window scene), Hamlet (body count), Henry V (war scenes)... I would be comfortable doing these in a couple more years, but right now they seem a bit mature. So, what did you start with?

If you want a more innocent story, I rather like Twelfth Night. At least I can't remember anything objectionable in that one... :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...