Shakespeare for Kids

Shakespeare for Kids from Booktomato

Please welcome Ashley who blogs at Booktomato as my guest author. She’s sharing her favorite Shakespeare books for kids.

My 10th grader, Grasshopper and Sensei, is studying Shakespeare in English class. She has a very bad concussion (her 4th, all from volleyball), and she couldn’t read Shakespeare without getting a headache flare up. I used an early chapter book series, Tales from Shakespeare, to help her understand the storyline and it really helped. While some of my fellow Cybils Early Chapter Book judges preferred the original, I like how this series makes Shakespeare more accessible.

Tales from Shakespeare: Hamlet by Timothy Knapman, illustrated by Yaniv Shimony

Hamlet as an early chapter book retold in modern day English with illustrations on every page. At just 47 pages, this is a quick read that focuses on conveying the plot. Quotes from the original work are pulled out as well. [early chapter book, ages 8 and up]

Tales from Shakespeare: MacBeth by Timothy Knapman, illustrated by Yaniv Shimony

The format of this early chapter book is the same as above, but about MacBeth. We used this for my daughter’s 10th grade English class instead of Spark Notes to understand the plot.  [early chapter book, ages 8 and up]

How about you? Are your kids reading simpler versions of Shakespeare and how do they like it? Thanks for sharing!


Hi there!  I’m Ashley from Booktomato, a blog where we discuss and share the best in children’s literature from baby board books to young adult novels and everywhere in between!

William Shakespeare might not be the first name that comes to mind when we think of great children’s authors, but there are so many amazing books out there that bring the Bard to life and make him more accessible for young readers.  Here is my list for the top ten best kid’s books about Shakespeare, his life, times, and works.


1. William Shakespeare and the Globe by Aliki

If you are familiar with Aliki, you know that she has been producing now-beloved picture books for over five decades!  Her take on the life of Shakespeare and the building of the Globe Theater is a well-illustrated look not only at how Shakespeare became a world-renowned playwright but also what it was like to live in Elizabethan England.  The ending chapter covers the fascinating story of how the once forgotten Globe Theater was rebuilt in 1997 by an American Shakespeare fan. [picture book, ages 4 and up]

2. Bard of Avon: The Story of William Shakespeare by Diane Stanley and Peter Vennema

This provides a complete history of the playwright’s life and also takes a closer look backstage at the world of Elizabethan actors. [picture book, ages 6 and up]

3. Will’s Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk by Jane Sutcliffe, illustrated by John Shelley

“Will’s words are everywhere.  They’re bumping into our words all the time, and we don’t even know it.” – Jane Sutcliffe.  We knew that Shakespeare created a lot of turns of phrase that we still use today, but learning that he created what are now everyday words like amazement, excitement, and for goodness sake, left us completely filled with amazement and excitement, for goodness sake! Each page contains several Shakespeare-created words, their definition, and marvelous illustrations! [picture book, ages 7 and up]

4. Shakespeare for Kids: His Life and Times by Colleen Aagesen and Margie Blumberg

This is chock full of fun historical facts as well as 21 activities based on Shakespeare’s plays and Elizabethan games.  Aagesen provides an in depth look at how people during Shakespeare’s time lived, what they thought and believed, what they ate, and what they did for fun.  We are going to be trying a lot of these activities out over our summer break! [nonfiction biography and activity book, ages 9 and up]

5. Shakespeare’s Stories for Young Readers by E. Nesbit

This is a very simple book compared to the others on this list with no illustrations, but the stories within are delightful adaptations of twelve Shakespeare plays turned into short stories.  A great introduction to the Bard.
6. William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher Yes! This exists! The Star Wars Saga told in iambic pentameter with a smattering of Shakespearean flair. [chapter book of short stories, ages 8 and up]

7. Shakespeare Can Be Fun! Hamlet for Kids by Lois Burdett

Lois Burdett is an elementary school teacher who is dedicated to bringing Shakespeare alive for kids.  She has written books and taught workshops for teachers, and her book series Shakespeare Can Be Fun features retellings of plays that can be read or performed on the stage. [poetry picture book, ages 7 and up]

8. Tales from Shakespeare and More Tales from Shakespeare by Marcia Williams

A genius way to present Shakespeare for kids!  A kid-friendly but accurate version of each play is told in comic strip form.  The result is engaging and fun! [picture book, ages 8 and up]

Well that’s my list for a sure fire way to get your kids loving and learning Shakespeare!  For more great story time suggestions, check out my children’s book blog!

Ashley from Booktomato

My name is Ashley, and I love children’s literature!  I am a creative writing student, wife, mom of two boys, and obsessive-compulsive Pinterest pinner.  Follow me on Instagram @booktomatokidsbooks, Twitter @booktomatoblog, and at my blog

p.s. For more on Shakespeare for Kids, Books My Kids Read has a great post: Shimmying Up to Shakespeare!

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Shakespeare for Kids

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By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. I love Will’s Words!! Such a great book, Mia!

    Gareth Hinds has created 4 Shakespearean graphic novels: Romeo & Juliet, King Lear, The Merchant of Venice & Hamlet as well as a bunch of other classics. (I’ve only read his Romeo & Juliet and King Lear, since it’s one of my favorities). It’s a great way to read Shakespeare for visually-oriented kids/people.

    • Hi Maria,
      I need to get my hands on the graphic novel version!! The early chapter book really helped my high schooler get through Hamlet because she had trouble with the original due to her concussion. So I bought the early chapter book for her and read it to her, and the whole time, I’m asking myself, WHY IS HE LISTENING TO HIS WIFE? SHE’S EVIL AND GREEDY! WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM? Perhaps the shortened version doesn’t do the story justice.
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…My Blogging Journey at Year 7My Profile

  2. I’m planning a post on this as well! There is actually a collection aimed at 9-12 year olds on groupon today that I’m considering purchasing for Hanukkah. So awesome to get them hooked at a young age!

  3. I hope your daughter is feeling better. I’m so sorry to hear she was injured. 🙁
    I need to add these books to our summer list! Thanks for sharing with us at #MMBH!

    • Thanks so much Mrs. AOK. I’ll be posting on concussions and what I learned. She’s getting better but it’s been six months and she’s still not cleared to play volleyball. Concussions in kids take longer to heal than adults because their brains are not fully developed. This and other things I have learned the hard way!
      Pragmatic Mom recently posted…My Blogging Journey at Year 7My Profile

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