When people ask me how do I get my children and students to like Shakespeare, I tell them to start early. I start “playing” with this author when my children are toddlers – and even sooner now they have an excellent books for babies such as the Baby Lit Series by Jennifer Adams, including the title for Romeo and Juliet. This series has several books that my kids all enjoyed when they were babies and introduced them to all my favorites.
Once they get older, around 3ish, I start reading from a great book that has small snippets of Shakespeare’s best works called Under the Greenwood Tree: Shakespeare for Young People edited by Barbara Holdridge. It is beautfully illustrated and most passages take less than a minute to read.
My older son’s favorite part of this book was the “Double, double toil and trouble” passage from MacBeth. When they were 5 and 3, we memorized it and made all the “things” that the witches put into the brew out of clay and put on a show for the family. It was a lot of fun for the 3 of us.
We also played memory with the Shakespear Memo Game. However, my youngest has a new way to play! His favorite way to play is to put the cards in a pile, then match them to build a road and play with his cars and trucks on them.
By incorporating great literature into play, it builds a lifelong foundation of the love of reading that is unbreakable.