There’s somewhat of a division between the homeschool camps when it comes to the reading of classics: should we use full or abridged versions? I see the benefit of using the original texts, and in most cases, that’s the way we go.
Every so often though, I’ll read about these super-homeschool-kids learning Latin and reading Plutarch and doing all kinds of impressive stuff before they are even in third grade, and I start to let it get to me. I begin to question if I need to create a more demanding work load than what we have.
With that thought in mind and armed with a copy of Romeo and Juliet from the library, I settled the children around me one day and began to read. It didn’t take long, however, until the fidgeting and muffled yawns began.
We routinely read brief sections of the Bible using the original King James Version utilizing this Charlotte Mason method and my kids have no trouble following along with all of the thees and thous, so I thought Shakespeare wouldn’t be too hard of a leap from there. I was wrong. Realizing the futility of what I was trying to attempt, I finished the page and moved on to another subject, shelving the idea of Shakespeare in our homeschool for the time.
Fast forward half a year or so later; I was browsing the shelves of the local library and came across this gem of a book:
Within its richly illustrated pages are found eight of Shakespeare’s plays, retold in an appealing manner that almost instantly captivated my children’s attention. After the first story ended, my son immediately exclaimed, “More! More!” We all agreed that A Midsummer Night’s Dream was our favorite; mainly for them because they were particularly fond of the mischievous Puck; but we also covered King Henry the Fifth, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, Twelfth Night, Hamlet and The Tempest.
So, no we didn’t read the original works, but now when Shakespeare is mentioned, I’m not met with moans and groans, but with interest. They also have a basic idea of the plots of eight of his most famous works. Hopefully, as they grow older, they will be able to appreciate the depth of meanings and wit, but until then, I’m quite satisfied with this rudimentary introduction to a brilliant writer.
The Random House Book of Shakespeare Stories was published in 2001 so may only be available through your local library or inter-library loan. Parents should be aware that the “D” word contained in that infamous phrase uttered by Lady Macbeth has been retained in this version.
I highly recommend this delightful book!