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]
Rubio and Julienne: A Sweet and Cheese Tale by Dan Paley, illustrated by Lauren Gallegos
This is a fruit and cheese take on Romeo and Juliet. The illustrations are not my favorite but it does convey the Romeo and Juliet story, retold in a French setting between a fruit seller family and cheese shop family. It’s a cute play off this Shakespeare tale but, unlike a fractured fairy tale, the spin will only be appreciated by the adults rather than the children. My favorite parts of this picture book are the fruit and cheese combinations (yum!), and the strategies the children used to share their food. The happy ending is also a nice touch.
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]
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]
“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]
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]
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 storytime suggestions, check out my children’s book blog!
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 booktomato.net.
p.s. For more on Shakespeare for Kids, Books My Kids Read has a great post: Shimmying Up to Shakespeare!
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