Whether your kids are already literature nuts, or they just enjoy a good comic book, this collection of children’s gifts are designed to bring the world of William Shakespeare to colorful life for elementary aged students. Styled to be content-appropriate for younger readers and featuring beautiful artwork, these historically accurate renditions of the collections of Shakespeare are as fun as they are educational.
- Usborne Books: Illustrated Shakespeare
Shakespeare’s plays are delightfully summarized with gorgeous imagery and plot lines that are designed to be understandable and age appropriate while remaining true to the story of the original play.
- The Shakespeare Stories
A 400th Anniversary edition, this collection features the entire works of Shakespeare adapted for children. The books are small, easy to read, and colorful.
- Shakespeare’s Children’s Stories
Designed like a storybook, this collection also features works from Shakespeare’s canon including Antony and Cleopatra, Romeo and Juliet, and Julius Cesear (among others). Each page contains a black and white drawing similar to the story books assigned from novels or other children’s literature. These books will feel familiar to students and read like a book instead of a play.
- A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Featuring drawings from elementary school children with characters talking through hand-written correspondence, this book retells the classic play as a series of children’s interpretations.
- Shakespeare For Kids
This is an activity book featuring 21 activities that let children explore the life of William Shakespeare, the man from Stratford.
- Shakespeare for Kids, Macbeth
This book is written as a series of rhyming couplets and is designed to be read aloud, or performed as a play.
- Shakespeare: The Graphic Novel
Designed like a comic book, and mostly suited for older children (even teenagers), this book takes a classic Shakespeare plot line and retells in through a series of comic book style graphics.
- Shakespeare Mini Books
Designed again like a comic book, but suitable for the older elementary student, this series retells Shakespeare’s stories in a comic book style reminiscent of what you used to see in the Sunday paper.
If you’re a parent who wants to introduce your kids to the works of William Shakespeare but feel they may not be ready for the real thing just yet, each of these options tailored for elementary aged students makes an excellent alternative to the original plays. You’ll find colorful pages and neat summations of the original text. In our house, we will often have family stage nights where each member of the family gets assigned a character of the play and we act out the stories in our living room. It’s usually a riotous event, full of laughter, costumes, and lasting memories. Since it takes a playing company of at least 12 people to perform every single character in the complete version of Shakespeare’s plays, these shortened versions for kids are often very helpful in truncating the action down to a size that works for a family of 3-5 people. If you wanted to have a full production right in your living room, another great idea, which my eight year old came up with for us, is to use puppets. When each family member makes his or her own character puppets, you can easily produce the whole play, using the sofa as the puppet stage.
Assigning roles to characters from a play and performing them with friends and family was a popular party game in homes across England from the 16th century until well into the 19th century, so by acting it out at your house, you are participating in real history! Many party hosts still celebrate with similar games for friends and relatives alike for holiday parties, birthday gatherings, and more.
So crack open an abridged version of Shakespeare for kids, then get to work making your own characters, costumes, and homemade play. It’s a great way to grow closer to each other as a family, and it’s a nice excuse to leave the t.v. off for one night. Two great things at once!
However you enjoy Shakespeare, I hope these resources help.