Select one of the keywords
How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare    by Ken Ludwig order for
How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare
by Ken Ludwig
Order:  USA  Can
Crown, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Although many people still believe that Shakespeare is one of the bedrocks of Western civilization, quite a few school systems are in the process of turning their backs on the Bard.

In some districts the playwright's work is considered no longer relevant or it is just deemed too hard for the students to fathom, so it is dropped from the curriculum. Where Shakespeare is still read, often either an abridged version of a play is used or the drama has been updated or translated into a more topical version that only honors the storyline.

If you find this situation troubling and would like to make sure your children are exposed to unadulterated versions of Shakespeare's plays, you'll want to get a copy of Ken Ludwig's How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare.

In the book's introduction John Lithgow explains that growing up he knew Shakespearean characters the way his schoolmates knew big league ballplayers. His father was an 'itinerant regional theater producer' and he ran outdoor Shakespeare festivals. Lithgow and his three siblings spent their summers hanging around rehearsals, building props, operating light boards and helping out in any way they could.

'The background music of our lives in those days was the sound of Shakespearean verse, spoken out loud,' he writes.

Of course, as they grew older the Lithgow children also ended up on the stage in various roles and, of course, John went on to a highly successful acting career himself.

In the introduction Lithgow explains why he feels an affinity for this book and its author. A playwright and man of the theatre himself, Ken Ludwig wanted to share his love of Shakespeare with his own children.

To enable other parents to do this too, Ludwig created this teaching primer for parents and a manual for making Shakespeare manageable and fun for children.

As Lithgow points out, this book is 'equally informative, readable, and fun for adults' who may wish to revisit such plays as A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Henry IV, Part I, Hamlet or As You Like It.

The method that Ludwig employs is to focus on 25 passages from Shakespeare. Understanding the characters, stories, imagery, rhythm, and meaning for each play studied emerges through the close reading, discussion and memorization of these passages.

Of course, the larger issues each play raises are also addressed. 'What does 'Twelfth Night' tell us about the relationship between brothers and sisters? What does 'Hamlet' tell us about the anxiety we feel when a parent dies?'

Obviously teachers and anyone involved in home schooling a child will find this book a valuable resource and one that will open up a whole new world of wonder to young readers.

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.

Find more NonFiction books on our Shelves or in our book Reviews