Shakespeare at ten and twelve years old may seem a bit amibitious, but when we reached the bard of Avon in our second volume of Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer, S began asking the questions.  Tragedies?  What kind of tragedies did he write?  Were there alot of fighting scenes?  My husband began filling in the gaps with quotes and story plots.  Although his degrees are in biology, chemistry and pharmacology, he grew up educating himself in Greek myths and Shakespeare’s plays.  He has always kept up an avid interest in the classics.  I married one of the few Renaissance men.

About the time we finished the chapter on Shakespeare and the arts during the Renaissance, I discovered Jamie Martin’s post on Simple Homeschool.  Amazon has the FREE Kindle version of Tales of Shakespeare retold by Charles and Mary Lamb, which contains twenty of some of Shakespeare’s most famous plays.  This brother-sister team originally published these works back in 1807 in order to give children the opportunity to enjoy the great comedies and tragedies.  Charles Lamb is most famous for his collaboration with his sister in this work, and with his friendships with the poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth.

Although, the language is still somewhat stilted for today’s young reader, the stories provided a great opportunity for a challenging read aloud.  They are brief enough to be read in one sitting.  With an occasional pause for questions or explanations, my guys thoroughly enjoyed Macbeth and Hamlet.  Hamlet was by far S’s favorite.  I mean, really, what ten-year-old, adventure-seeking boy would not thrill with the final scene in Hamlet, the Prince of Denmark?

We followed this up by reading a few select quotes online from the original play.

“This above all: to thine own self be true.”

“Conscience doth make cowards of us all.”

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

“To be, or not to be: that is the question:

Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,

Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,

And by opposing end them?”

Next, we are waiting for Netflix to deliver Franco Zeffirelli’s Hamlet starring Mel Gibson with the superbly crazed eyes.  Bring on the popcorn, crackers and hummus; let’s see what is rotten in the state of Denmark!


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