Reading aloud is very useful. This is because his writing has a rhythm which comes out beautifully when spoken aloud. And surprisingly 95% of the words used are still very much in use in today’s world. For the little ones the language can be a barrier. However you can counter this by telling them that learning Shakespeare is like learning a new language. And you will be surprised how well they pick up.
A Little Fun
Let the children have fun online trying to discover various lines from his writings which are popular quotes nowadays.
Let them into some trivia about his writings. For example, there are time when he uses you instead of thee and thy instead of your! This is because in Tudor England thee and thy denoted reverence and was used while addressing a king. On the other hand you and your was kept for more informal occasions.
Nothing creates a greater impact than what the eyes see. So try and get them to see various Shakespeare plays. Keep a watch out at the local theaters in case one is ever staged. Else some have been made into films too (or have a look at YouTube!) Older children can be made to watch it. For Shakespeare for kids for the younger lot, try BBC Animated Tales which cover a number of his plays. Do sit around with them to explain parts which they don’t understand. As a starting point, some words might confuse them but soon they will be able to pick up the meanings through the visual contexts.
Read the Translation
When Shakespeare wrote the English language was fast changing. So while some words existed, some were coined, some had still not come into being. For example the word ‘don’t’ was not around then. Saying “don’t hurt me” then would have to be “hurt me not.” Sometimes the young ones will find understanding this a little challenging. So you could begin with a easy to read modern day translation and keep the original text with you too for picking out and remembering some popular quotes and speeches. For Shakespeare for kids some books that are good for the younger lot are:
- Tales From Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb
- Shakespeare Stories by Leon Garfield.
- Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare by Edith Nesbit
It is only when you lay a strong foundation that the new generation learn. So introduce this very important part of literature to them in the fun way and watch them enjoy it as they grow.