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Shakespeare for Kids: His Life and Times Review by Jessica DeFore

Colleen Aagesen and Margie Blumberg
Pioneer Drama Service
PO Box 4267
Englewood, CO 80155

Shakespeare for Kids is an activity and history book about William Shakespeare all in one. You open the pages and walk right into William Shakespeare's world, when John and Mary Arden Shakespeare welcome a baby in the first chapter, titled appropriately "Act 1, Scene 1," all the way through his upbringing, his education, marriage, death, and impact on the world at large.

Shakespeare for Kids is 149 pages filled with engaging history about William Shakespeare with 26 fun-filled activities, such as learning how to juggle, creating a hornbook, creating new words as Shakespeare did, playing Elizabethan games, and even creating your very own quill pen. The book itself is 11 x 8 1/2, formatted like other popular history/activity books such as Laurie Carlson's Classical Kids and Colonial Kids.

Shakespeare for Kids is filled with maps, photographs, and paintings to help transport your child into the days of Shakespeare's life. You will find among the many visual elements in this book the earliest known map of Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare's birthplace, the kitchen of Shakespeare's home on Henley Street, and William Shakespeare's monument.

Any homeschooling family could use this book in a number of ways. It can be used simply as a supplemental book while reading Shakespeare's plays, the spine of a unit study on William Shakespeare, or even for independent study. It is also perfect for writing a biographical composition on Shakespeare.

Shakespeare for Kids contains a glossary, an alphabetical listing of Shakespeare's plays, websites for further exploration, and a bibliography that a parent could use to find resources for additional reading if desired.

Each section of the book, separated by Acts and Scenes appropriate to the theme, contains a narrative about Shakespeare's life. Interesting facts and definitions are highlighted in the margin for the convenience of the reader.

This book would be best suited for middle school aged students, as they would benefit the most from the activities such as composing a sonnet and learning about an oxymoron. Shakespeare for Kids would be a manageable independent read for a middle school aged student. However, the book is also useful as a read-aloud for younger students who are just being introduced to William Shakespeare with activities such as making a pomander ball or apple moye and staging a sword fight. The narrative captures the reader and makes a journey into history interesting and fun.

William Shakespeare continues to inspire people around the world. This affordable and easy-to-use book allows that inspiration to reach our children by making Shakespeare accessible, educational, and fun.

Product review by Jessica DeFore, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2006