Thank you, Ken Ludwig, for writing How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare.
Confession: I am a very reluctant Shakespeare reader. I don’t remember being exposed to his works before high school, and I don’t remember my teachers showing much spirit when Romeo and Juliet and Julius Caesar came along on the syllabus. We’re a homeschooling family, and I know there will be time I’ll have to teach things I’m not terribly interested in. But I want my daughter to appreciate Shakespeare’s works in the same way I want her to appreciate great pieces of art or music: because these works are “part of our cultural DNA and cannot be missed,” as Ken Ludwig says. Although I have concerns that it is too late for me, I’d love to enjoy Shakespeare, too.
I didn’t even have to warm up to this! Ludwig writes about Shakespeare in such an engaging way, with vivaciousness, passion, and a wildly contagious enthusiasm. Not only do I find myself having a sense of awe and appreciation for what I’m reading, I’m falling in love with the words, the way they are crafted, their deeper meaning. If Ludwig can do this for me as an adult, someone so reluctant and with major Shakespearean hang-ups… the possibilities for using this in my child’s education are huge.
Ludwig starts off with a very simple (but stunning) seven-word line from A Midsummer’s Night Dream, tackling it very briefly. He moves on to discuss Shakespeare’s importance and to give a bit of explanation about the layout of the book and key factors in learning to appreciate and enjoy his works. Ludwig then gets back to the literature itself, complete with synopses, selected passages, explanations, and suggestions for memorization. The book’s website offers printable quotation sheets and audio clips of all twenty-six passages.
Because of its focus on memorization and recitation, classical and Charlotte Mason homeschoolers will find How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare especially useful. We’re more of a relaxed/eclectic homeschooling family, but the enthusiasm within this book has earned it a permanent place on our bookshelf.
So tell me, how do you feel about Shakespeare? Do you enjoy reading his works?