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How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare Paperback – July 1, 2014
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“Ken Ludwig's enthusiasm for Shakespeare and his lucid, accessible and inspiring book on How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare is a rare treat. You and your children will be transformed into the magic and mystery of Shakespeare and his stories in an instant. I highly recommend the book to all who have a love of language and history.” —Sir Derek Jacobi, CBE
“How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare is an inspired and inspiring book. It’s also a deeply rewarding one that will bring a great deal of pleasure to many parents and children. Ken Ludwig, a wonderful playwright, proves to be a superb guide to Shakespeare as well.” —James Shapiro, author of A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare and Contested Will
“I wish someone had given this book to my parents. It would have made a life-changing task downright fun. Ken Ludwig is a smart, congenial and inventive guide, and everywhere in this remarkable book he takes the strangeness out of Shakespeare's work and leaves the enchanting mystery. A book for all lovers, and potential lovers, of Shakespeare. Like nothing else, it creates a magical home theater for parents and their children.” —J. D. McClatchy, Yale University
“I have been in [Ken's] home. His children really do know Shakespeare. Read the book and you'll see why. It's scholarship dancing around with fun.” —Hal Holbrook
“Don’t be fooled by the title. This book is for anyone who wants to brush up on Shakespeare… Don’t buy this book to teach your children; take them along as you commit these beautiful speeches to memory.” —Kirkus Reviews
“[Ludiwg’s] enthusiasm is also infectious . . . it’s hard to come away from this book without wanting to find someone, child or adult, to convert.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer
About the Author
KEN LUDWIG is an internationally acclaimed playwright who has had numerous hits on Broadway, in London, and throughout the world. His plays and musicals include Lend Me a Tenor, which won two Tony Awards, and Crazy for You, which won the Tony Award for Best Musical. He has also won two Laurence Olivier Awards and the Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America. His work has been commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and has been performed in over thirty countries in more than twenty languages. Visit him at www.kenludwig.com.
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Top Customer Reviews
Fast forwarding, I have two young kids. One with slight developmental delay, in second grade. The teacher had told me about the importance of language art education, so I thought.. why not try Shakespeare. It was more for myself.
I read the first three chapters without a pause. The author just threw a line from A Midsummer Night's Dream.
"I know a bank
where the wild thyme blows".
He makes you repeat it. Then he smoothly goes on to explain why he wrote the book. At some point, (I'm not referring back to the book as I am writing this review, so the order of what appears when is a bit blur, however,) he says two literatures are the bedrock of the modern civilization of the English speaking world. William Shakespeare and the King James' Bible.
Then the following chapter(s), he breaks it down line by line. I never read nor watched on movie nor seen on a play A Midsummer Night's Dream. All the old English expressions explained along the way, in the sentences, within the context of the play. It is written in such an easily understood way, even I, a non-native English speaker came to appreciate the beauty that is locked within the words of the Poet.
The author stresses on m-e-m-o-r-i-z-a-t-i-o-n. And yes, I hate memorization. In my childhood, I have developed an allergy to rote memorization. Why? To me, it was just a means to get a good score on the test. At some point I felt I lost creativity. However. The author stresses on memorization. You memorize, you repeat. Then you will understand. The author made me realize, rote memorization (of the lines from Shakespeare's plays) is one of the many tools not so much for academic achievement, but to enrich your life. My sons were never exposed to plays or heard of William Shakespeare.
And there is the website that has lines to download, and oh my, the beautiful reading by the actors. The way the 'read', oh no, they speak from the heart the lines from Shakespeare. Bar none. I have bought some other books for children such as poetry, with CD's. They are great also, but the recording on the website for this book, the best. Who am I to critique, I'm not a native English speaker, but the language, the rhythm, it speaks to me at a different dimension. So as of today, I am hoping, through this book, my children will come to appreciate it and I hope that they will in the future be as witty and as observant as the Bard was, who knows. They will create their own play. And who knows. They will come to enrich other people's lives. I already know what I will be doing with my FIVE years old son. Draw. Have him use his imagination to draw the scene of the bank with the flowers. Spark his imagination.
On the second note... Perhaps I can use author's techniques to teach my kids and myself King James' translation of the Bible.
And by the way, I never received any commission or even free sample from the author or the publisher. I bought it straight from Amazon.com with my own money. Although, I would oh my, welcome invitation to bring my kids to see Shakespeare plays with someone who understands it, like the author.
Ludwig's affection for his topic breathes so infectiously from every page that you'll find yourself re-reading Shakespeare for your own enjoyment before you're halfway through. I would have liked more detailed instructions on how to teach children to declaim the selected passages properly, but he gives you a good start in his discussion of iambic pentameter and provides a wealth of additional sources in the bibliography. I already bought one of them, Peter Hall's book, 'Shakespeare's Advice to the Players', to help fill in the gaps. Since I can't link to a helpful and interesting webpage on using iambic pentameter to speak Shakespeare properly, do a search for 'performing Shakespeare Ben Crystal interview' for a quick informative guide.
Ludwig puts his own modern translation side-by-side with some of the speeches to clarify the more archaic words and shades of meaning. I didn't find all of them to be completely accurate; for example, he rendered Shakespeare's 'quick' as 'deeply', when 'quick' meant 'alive' or 'living', as exampled by "The Quick and the Dead". Not a big deal, just something that sticks out to someone familiar with the King James Bible.
Charming illustrations of Shakespeare-themed paintings, sculpture, and pictures of various stage productions were a pleasant addition to the text. The pictured actors ranged from Vivian Leigh to David Tennant, slightly comedic as Hamlet poised with crown askew.
As a homeschooling mother passionate about great literature, I would definitely recommend this book to get parents as well as children excited and confident about a plunge into the turbulent, stimulating world of a 16th century genius.
"Once more unto the breach, dear friends..."