How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare
The only experience many of us have had with William Shakespeare’s plays and poetry is feeble attempts to read through the iambic pentameter and memorizing certain speeches. Few of us have attended a Shakespearean play because of those not-so-memorable attempts in high school. (Go ahead. Take a moment and recite as much of the speech you learned as you can remember.)
Playwright and author Ken Ludwig discovered a different approach to learning and teaching Shakespeare. Memorization is still the centerpiece of his approach. But it isn’t in a vacuum and it isn’t long, unwieldy speeches.
The foundation of Ludwig’s method is to learn short passages from Shakespeare comedies. In addition to memorizing, he presents a summary of the play and with each passage teaches a different aspect of the writings—verse, imagery, characters, and so forth.
Ludwig believes that Shakespeare is “one of the two great bedrocks of Western civilization in English. (The other is the King James translation of the Bible.)” He also points out that all great literature since Shakespeare’s death has been influenced by his plays and poetry. Ludwig says, “Shakespeare is not only creative in himself—he is the cause of creation in other writers.”
The book includes 25 passages to memorize and commentary on each. In addition to these detailed “lessons,” they aren’t really lessons, 55 other passage are recommended for committing to memory. The book has an extensive list of resources including films and audio recordings,
Ludwig developed his method for his own children, so includes with each passage the methods used in his own home. His number one suggestion is to make it fun, a game. He doesn’t tell the parent exactly how to do the teaching, but has many suggestions and explains why they have worked in his family. Ludwig makes it clear that this is a family learning experience, not just something for the students to do.
I wouldn’t use it as a stand-alone method of teaching Shakespeare. I’d use it as a guide for use while reading the plays. The lessons on the literary aspects will help any literature teaching. This book will help even the most intrepid parent-teacher tackle Shakespeare’s writings, and maybe learn to enjoy the Bard of Avon along the way.
Paperback – $10.97
Kindle – $7.99