Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

Remember my Shakespeare plans and my uncertainty about the audio version?*MS/Romeo&Juliet2.jpg
Well, it was delightful!

We listened to our audio story that I had purchased some years ago from Shakespeare For The Ears, the “Beautiful Stories From Shakespeare” audiobook.

The story was short, simple and easy to understand.

A great overview.

Then I read the story from Shakespeare For Children: Tales From Shakespeare by Charles Lamb.

It was excellent.

It is very similar to the original style and includes famous quotations.

Even my youngest (9) understood and enjoyed the story.

Then I started to read the original play aloud …

This was just too much for them.

I saw blank looks,


and a couple of sighs.

I plodded on a bit more,

explaining here and there …

and stopped.

A flop?


Just too advanced for my middle-schoolers.

A Shakespeare play is best viewed on stage, DVD or video.

We watched the 1968 DVD version (censored the love scenes) last year and the children loved it.  (I think this is why I chose Romeo and Juliet for our first play – we were already familiar with the story)

I’ll give the original play a re-try when my kids start high school or are a little more mature.

My overall rating ~

  • we really enjoyed the audio cd(5 stars)
  • we really  enjoyed the Charles Lamb Tales From Shakespeare version (5 stars)
  • not ready for the original play (-1 star – quenched our enthusiasm)
  • loved the video (4 stars – caution love scene)
  • enjoy Shakespeare (priceless! 10 stars)

How have you enjoyed your Shakespeare with middle schoolers?

When are children ready for the original plays?


10 thoughts on “Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

  1. Pingback: Small Steps | Practical Pages

  2. I studied/read my first Shakespeare play in 8th grade (14 years old). Our literature teacher assigned specific students to play each role. I didn’t have any issues with it at all, but literature is my strong point!


  3. I like Lynda’s comment – when we have tried a little Shakespeare here, even the younger versions, my daughter, an only child, has just not enjoyed it at all. But maybe if I did the plays aloud with a litle group, we’d light the spark.


  4. Most of Shakespeare is meant to be seen or acted. As the players were originally written, they were not intended to be read like a book. If they are not adapted then the worst thing you can do is treat them like a book. Get some friends together and act them out, or treat it like Reader’s Theater where everyone reads a part.
    I loved Shakespeare but then I was able to “Call up a cast” in my head when I read them. So I saw the action in my mind, sometimes acting out parts to get a better grasp of what was happening.


  5. All three of my older children have been ready for the original plays once they were 13. When they were younger they preferred the versions by Leon Garfield (Shakepeare Stories, Shakespeare Stories II). Viewing a life performance is great if you can. We are looking forward to an outdoor performance of As You Like It later this month.


  6. Last year a British Shakespeare company performed The Tempest at our local performing arts school, so I read Lamb’s version (I think it was Lamb’s, I had two versions at the time) with my then 10 and 8 year old, we read a little bit of the actual play and then went and saw the performance. It will always be memorable as their first Shakespeare play!
    During that time I happened upon these Shakespeare finger puppets with backdrops-very fun addition so that they could act out what we were reading…


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