As much as I hate to admit it, I didn’t appreciate Shakespeare at all when I was younger. My first experiences with his works were perfunctory and dry, but that’s exactly why I wanted something different for my middle schooler. It’s the reason I wanted to introduce Shakespeare in a way that would grab his attention.
*I received these books for free and was compensated for my time.
As always, all opinions are my own. See disclosure for further details.
I wanted something different for my son’s first experiences with Shakespeare and I found it through Candlewick Press. Did I expect it to primarily be through graphic novels? No, but it’s definitely the coolest way to introduce Shakespeare to your tweens and teens.
Getting Ready for Shakespeare
My son was excited to get started reading those graphic novels, but I wanted him to have some idea of Shakespeare’s background first. That’s where Shakespeare: His Work and His World from Michael Rosen and Robert Ingpen comes in.
This book is chock-full of background information about Shakespeare’s life and his greatest works. Better yet, it emphasizes life in London and the tumultuous political and religious climates of his lifetime. This goes a long way in helping readers make sense of the storylines in his plays.
It’s also full of beautiful, eye-catching illustrations that help readers understand the world as Shakespeare knew it. While Shakespeare itself isn’t a graphic novel, the information presented was incredibly helpful in preparing my kiddo to read Shakespeare’s plays.
No doubt, Shakespeare: His Work and His World is a book I’m happy to have on our shelves. It did a wonderful job in getting my son ready to read Shakespeare’s work, but I suspect we’ll go back to it over and over again.
Graphic Novels from Candlewick Press:
A New Way to Introduce Shakespeare
After getting a feel for Shakespeare’s background through Shakespeare: His Work and His World, my kiddo jumped into the graphic novels and didn’t look back.
We received King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and The Merchant of Venice, all adapted and illustrated by Gareth Hinds. Recommended for ages 12 and up, each one presents Shakespeare’s plays in graphic novel form. And, while the novels are abridged, each contains detailed notes to explain those changes or omissions.
Why Introduce Shakespeare through Graphic Novels?
You could just as easily use these books in addition to a Shakespeare study, but they turned out to be the perfect way to introduce Shakespeare to my kiddo. In his own words from the video below, the graphic novel form kept it from feeling like work. It also kept him from going to “Snoresville.”
The graphic novel form kept him engaged and eager to read more. The illustrations also helped connect the dots where Elizabethan English left some gaps in his understanding.
Lastly, It didn’t take us long to appreciate the work that goes into adapting Shakespeare’s plays to the graphic novel format. It was easy to recognize the true artistry that goes into the process.
It was this artistry that brought these plays to life for my son. In fact, he was inspired to research Hinds’ work to learn more. We found lots of great information on GarethHinds.com and through videos like this.
Candlewick Press Giveaway
If you’re looking for ways to introduce Shakespeare to your kids, I absolutely recommend these books from Candlewick Press. You can find them at candlewick.com and even save 25% off with promo code CANDLEWICK at the checkout. How cool is that?
That code can also be used for other items on the site, including these titles:
Feeling lucky? Fifty winners will receive a boxed set of Judy Moody paperbacks books 1-8 from Candlewick Press. All you need to do is enter to win using the giveaway widget below.
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