Homeschooling, Literature, Shakespeare

Shakespeare for Kids: Books that Introduce the Bard

I typically end our school year by spending time with William Shakespeare.

Not literally. Obviously. Because he died in 1616.

But we learn about his life, his plays, and his words using picture books and easy chapter books.

We also read one of his plays. We keep it light-hearted and fun, but they are establishing a great foundation in Shakespeare and literature that will serve them well in high school and beyond.

Ideas and resources to help you introduce William Shakespeare to your kids.

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We also find a great stack of fun, informative picture books.

Shakespeare for Kids: Books

William Shakespeare & the Globe written and illustrated by Aliki is my favorite basic overview book so far.

The story of Shakespeare’s life and the history of the Globe Theater are told in the style of his own plays.  There is a prologue and then five acts, each with a number of scenes.  Although the basic organization is that of a play, the writing is done in normal paragraph form.

A Shakespearean Theater by Jacqueline Morley with detailed illustrations by John James was an excellent resource for more information about the history of the theater during the days of Shakespeare.  Information about performances, the stage, and the audience is included as well.  There are great visuals in this book as well.

Information about performances, the stage, and the audience is included as well.  There are great visuals in this book as well.

The Usborne Internet-linked World of Shakespeare (Internet Linked) is an informative reference book.

This resource is not a storybook to just sit and read to the kids. This is the kind of book to tackle one section at a time or look up specific topics that interest you.

Who Was William Shakespeare by Celeste Davidson Mannis with illustrations by John O’Brien is a title in a well-known series for early chapter book readers.

Read it out loud or assign as an independent read. Like the other Shakespeare titles, the history of Shakespeare is linked to the history of theater in London, specifically The Globe Theater.  Readers will learn quite a bit about the Globe theater as well as Shakespeare in this book.

I have saved my favorite book for last in this list.

Will’s Words: How William Shakespeare Changed the Way You Talk by Jane Sutcliffe and wonderfully illustrated by John Shelley.

The book contains a basic history of the theater scene in London. The “story” is written on the left-hand side of the book with certain phrases are in bold font. William Shakespeare is credited as the first person to use the boldfaced words.

On the right-hand side page, the meaning of the words or phrases and the play in which they appear are explained.

We had so much fun with this book. As I read it to the kids, they tried to raise their hands when they thought I read a phrase from Shakespeare. They caught on quickly that many of his phrases are idioms and we had a fun time sharing them. I loved this book so much that my mom bought it for me as a gift.

After an overview of Shakespeare, we move on to enjoying his poems and plays.

Have you introduced your kids to The Bard?  What have been your favorite resources?




Mary Wilson

Mary is a writer and mother to four kids ranging from elementary to high school.

She believes that creativity, laughter, and fun are the backbone for engaging and inspiring homeschools. You can find her encouragement and tips on this blog, Mary Hanna Wilson.

She is an enneagram 7 and an extrovert. She enjoys traveling, tea (iced or hot), good conversations, and books. You can connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.

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  • Reply Lise April 29, 2016 at

    Funny….as I read the rest of your recommendations, I was going to recommend “Will’s Words.” We, too, had it from the library recently, and immediately put it on my wish list.

    We also recently borrowed and enjoyed “Shakespeare’s Seasons.” Beautiful art with short quotes. Would be good for a poetry teatime.

    • Reply April 30, 2016 at

      Bummer. My library didn’t have that one. We did get “To sleep. Perchance to Dream” which had great quotes by Shakespeare. Thanks for the recommendation!

  • Reply Natasha April 30, 2016 at

    Thanks for this. I can’t wait to show the videos to my kids. We also like the “Shakespeare can be fun” series by Lois Burdett.
    Can’t wait for your next post.

    • Reply April 30, 2016 at

      Thanks Natasha! I will have to look that up!

  • Reply Lynna @hswotrainingwheels April 30, 2016 at

    Love this! Someday I’ll come back and reference this for help. In fact, just looking over your list is encouraging – makes Shakespeare look a little less intimidating and more appealing!

    • Reply April 30, 2016 at

      Thanks girl – you can do it!!! I hope you give it a go in your school year next year.

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