Introducing Shakespeare

We probably read Shakespeare in the first place for his stories, afterwards for his characters, the multitude of delightful persons with whom he makes us so intimate that afterwards, in fiction or in fact, we say, ‘She is another Jessica,’ and ‘That dear girl is a Miranda’; ‘She is a Cordelia to her father,’ and, such a figure in history, ‘a base lago.’ To become intimate with Shakespeare in this way is a great enrichment of mind and instruction of conscience. Then, by degrees, as we go on reading this world-teacher, lines of insight and beauty take possession of us, and unconsciously mould our judgments of men and things and of the great issues of life.

— Charlotte Mason

It feels as though we have just taken the lid off a treasure chest as we have opened William Shakespeare together this term.  We know it is valuable but are slowly figuring out how and why.  There is a genuine excitement from the older two children as we have embarked on this journey together, which has been such a pleasant surprise. Rather than reading the scripts word for word at this stage, we have been reading beautifully illustrated synopses which have introduced us to the stories and characters – perfect for us as a family.

We met Shakespeare in our history studies last term and read a beautiful biography by Michael Rosen to familiarise ourselves with the Bard and his work. This term we have looked at one play a week. We have listened to a synopsis in the car from Naxos, and then we have read a different version from E. Nesbit’s Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare for Children.

Last Saturday was the icing on the cake for us all. We took a road trip to Stratford-upon-Avon and followed in some of Shakespeare’s footsteps. We walked along roads lined with Tudor buildings and took some time to look around his Birthplace, which included some actors reciting short excepts and sonnets al fresco. The day finished with a visit to Shakespeare’s grave at Holy Trinity Church.  Our time in Stratford was brief but full of delight and wonder at every turn. There is lots more to be enjoyed, so we’ll just have to go back another time!

Next steps for us will be reading through a full play together, to see one performed and then maybe one day they will act in one themselves!

Below are some lovely books for introducing Shakespeare to your home:

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