I am mildly (okay, that’s an understatement) obsessed with Shakespeare.
I’m not exactly a Shakespearean scholar or anything, even coming from a literature major in college, but really more of what I call a Shakespeare groupie.
I love Shakespeare and everything that he has given us, and I love to share the stories and the characters and the words with my kids. My girls are still very young, but we’ve already seen multiple live performances together, watched some of the plays as movies, and done crafts and activities based on the plays.
And one of the original reasons that I became a consultant with Usborne Books & More is because of Usborne Publishing’s amazing collection of books about Shakespeare. Which is what this post is about. I wanted to share with you how these books help to get kids excited about Shakespeare and help to research and understand his plays.
Though, honestly, I really got the books for myself. My kids just get the benefits of having them around. ;)
This seemed like the perfect time to share them, too, with this month being a worldwide celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Not a celebration that he died, mind you, but a celebration that we’re still so excited about and grateful for everything that he brought into our world through his art.
Talking about books seemed to me a great way to honor the words he gave us. ;)
The books are much more impressive in person, however, than they appear from a simple photograph, so I’m first going to share a video review I made of the books listed here – so that you can see a glimpse inside of them and compare what they offer. Then I’m going to list each book with a brief description.
Ugh … I don’t like watching myself on video. But hopefully I was able to explain and demonstrate the books well enough for you to figure out what would be best for your household or classroom. (Even if I did get confused and stumble over my words here and there…)
But if anything was unclear, or you have any further questions, please leave a comment here and I’ll do my best to help!
Here are the books, including the gift collection not mentioned in the video:
Recommended Age: 8+
The Illustrated Stories contains retellings of 6 plays, all fully illustrated with artwork on every page. It’s a hardcover book with a soft outer cover and includes a ribbon bookmark.
Plays included: Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, and the Tempest
Recommended Age: 7+
Pages: 5 books at 64 pages each
This boxed set contains five hardcover books, one for each of the five plays represented, and each includes a ribbon bookmark.
Plays included: Macbeth, Twelfth Night, Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Romeo and Juliet
Recommended Age: 5+
Pages: 24 pages + 10 pages of stickers
This sticker dressing book allows you to dress up characters from many of the plays with over 160 stickers, from Bottom to Macbeth and Cleopatra to Hamlet. Also includes some quotation stickers.
Recommended Age: 7-11
A truly fun and unique concept, this book of Where’s Will is the Shakespearean version of Where’s Waldo.
There is an illustrated summery from 10 of his plays, followed by a double spread illustration for each of those plays in which you must seek out characters from the play.
Recommended Age: 12+
This book is covered with a sturdy flexi-binding and retells 10 of Shakespeare’s plays with large lively illustrations. Includes summaries of all of the plays.
Play include: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, As you like it, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, The Merchant of Venice, The Winter’s Tale, Macbeth, and The Taming of the Shrew
Recommended Age: 11+
Available in flexi-binding or in library binding, this book will thoroughly introduce you to Shakespeare. Find out how he lived, what Elizabethan London was like, and why we still perform his plays today.
Includes multiple glossaries plus information about how to further research the topics on the internet.
Recommended Age: 10+
Shorter than the book mentioned just above, this hardcover reference book contains similar information, but in smaller chunks and with a more colorful format.
That’s it for my review! Overall, I highly recommend ALL of these books, but I understand most people aren’t going to rush out and stock up on each and every one of them, so I hope I’ve been able to help you decide on a favorite(s).
Also, be sure to follow me on Facebook where I have a habit of posting random funny or interesting Shakespeare stuff. ;)