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    Shakespeare

    Hello,

    I've been haunting the boards for a few years and finally decided to jump in the discussion.

    My oldest is going into 2nd and I'd like to start introducing Shakespeare to her. I've hear everything recommended from just reading excerpts straight out of the plays to presenting the stories in kid's picture books first so they have a grasp on the plot before delving into language. I recently received a children's picture book that includes Midsummer's Night's Dream, Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, etc. and perusing through it I re-realized just how much of his plays depend on murder, suicide, unrequited love, fickle love, cruelty and a whole slew of other things I'd rather my kids not internalize. How do you work through these things holding up Shakespeare as a pillar of western literature and literary greatness while not inadvertently endorsing the characters' choices? Perhaps 7.5 is too young to start? Should i just hold off?

    All thoughts welcome.

    #2
    We started off very slowly with Shakespeare . My daughter is going into fifth now and I think for 2 nd we only did A Midsummer Night but the Bruce Coville version . He has written a number of adaptations of Shakespearean works for children while still leaving in essential lines from the original . There is also a DVD Shakespeare 4 Kidz of the same story with songs and we took her to the ballet of Midsummer as well. We read Bard of Avon and that was enough to begin a love and a curiousity for Shakespeare without introducing violence and adult content at such a young age. Then we moved on to Romeo& Juliet by LisbethZwerger another adaptation with beautiful illustrations and original prose.There is also a Masterpuppet Theatre that has finger puppets and sets that will help young children learn the characters in the stories. We are just introducing Charles&Mary Lamb this year and we are starting with Othello just because of a slight reference to it in My Side of the Mountain. We also have the Bruce Coville version of Hamlet , that one is much more intense than Midsummer so we held off. All this is to say , you can introduce Shakespeare at a young age without going all in the first year and without all the intensity which will build an appreciation and understanding for him& his works overtime . Of course this is just one family's way of doing it with a child who would have been too sensitive for all the violence earlier . As I type this she is in the finger puppet box happily chatting about how fun that all was! She also bought herself ,when we were traveling the Brett Wright Shakespeare books that are written with emojis ! I mean really! But then I had to reason , well she did pick up Shakespeare on her own! I hope you enjoy no matter how you choose to introduce it!

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      #3
      We have used the Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare and the Bruce Coville Shakespeare picture books. My boys haven't been bothered by any of the more mature themes. HTH!
      Amanda
      Mama to three crazy boys - 6A, 5A, 1

      "Non nisi te, Domine. Non nisi te" - St. Thomas Aquinas

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        #4
        I think 7.5 is a bit young for Shakespeare, or to expect a lot of understanding just by reading excerpts. But I think I bought a box set of Shakespeare books for kids at Costco one day on a whim when my oldest was about 4th grade. It's a bunch of thin paperbacks which make short stories out of each play. I just looked at their version of Romeo and Juliet and there's no attempt to temper the suicides or why they were committed, but there is an explainer at the end about how the hatred of the two families led to the deaths of R&J and how pointless the rivalry was and only led to sadness. Anyway, it is heavy stuff. We are just now getting to As You Like it in 7A with MP as our first real teaching of a Shakespeare play.

        As to the issue of mature themes, in anything the kiddos read, I personally always revert back to how we treat these things in our daily Bible reading because out of everything we read together as a family, often times the Bible presents the most tricky themes to address. Sometimes we just read and if there is something mature, the kids don't even notice or ask any questions and we just let it go. I find that things like adultery, r@pe, etc., often go right over the kids' heads for the most part. If questions do arise, we talk about what the issue is (something like, "God says wrong to act like you're married to someone if you aren't and that's what Person A did to Person B,")

        For us, there are a lot of things our kids are going to read about in their education that we hope that they don't internalize, but that is where we are alongside teaching them about God's word and how these things (sin) cause bad consequences for the people involved. Sometimes (hopefully) this is apparent in the stories we read without much moralizing and explaining later, sometimes the kids don't ponder it much at all until they are older and can really understand what's happening, and sometimes we do have to take a direct course in addressing how and why something is against God's Word. I think it all depends on the kiddo and the family.

        I know this is maybe a little bit off what you were asking, but hope it helps a little!
        Jodi
        ~~~~~~~
        2018-19 School Year:
        Ethan (6A)
        Matthew (4A)
        Silas (K)
        Eleanor (3yo, chaos & charm)
        Blueberry (arriving Oct '19)

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          #5
          Thank you so much for all the feedback!

          I will look into the Bruce Coville and Lambs versions, they are available at our library. Oh, my! The Master Puppet Theater is so cute! My girls would love that!

          JodiSue, thanks for the reminder that the best policy isn't taking the negative out but making sure the positive is well tended to; like in gardening, healthy plants squelch out weeds. I've read multiple times that you shouldn't answer questions that aren't being asked but it's so easy to see everything from an adult perspective.

          Even so, I think I'll hold off another year.

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