Shakespeare and Audio Books

List of titles of works based on Shakespearean...

Busy planning for the new year …

This time I’m working on starting a journey with


This past quarter I read Julius Caesar aloud to my Grade 10 daughter. 

We spent several afternoons reading aloud together and we enjoyed the play. 

I was amazed. 

She enjoyed it

Really engrossed. 

No problems with language, weird words,

very little confusion about antagonists and protagonists, plot and themes.


I thought,

now I’m ready to start Shakespeare with my younger kids.

I have ~

  • several Shakespeare plays (some with detailed student notes)
  • the book Shakespeare For Children: Tales From Shakespeare (1879) by Charles Lamb
  • the pdf download  Tales Of Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb
  • audio recordings  Shakespeare For The Ears I purchased 2 years ago (remember I confessed that I don’t do it all) from
  • looked at Jimmie’s Shakespeare for Children Squidoo lens

I thought … this is how we’ll do Shakespeare ~

  1. Listen to the audio recording of a chosen play.  Maybe twice or so.  Get a good over-view.
  2. I’ll read the same play from Tales Of Shakespeare by Lamb.  Chat about the story, characters etc.
  3. Finally, I’ll read the play over several afternoons or evenings aloud to the family.  The real thing.  In full.

I listened to some of the MP3 recordings.  They are great.  Well narrated. 

But … I had some reservations …

I felt they were like a meal-replacement milkshake.

They taste ok, give nutrients, but not genuine food.

Books are real food.

Reading your own book or listening to a read aloud

you can taste the words,

chew the meanings,

digest the story

and learn

and grow.

And to confirm my thoughts on this, I came across an excellent and thought-provoking post on Audiobooks by Jeanne at Oh Peaceful Day.  She made such good points – both educational and personal :

Why she prefers to read aloud instead of audiobooks ~

… When I read these stories aloud, I do some judicious editing to remove the profanities and blasphemies, thereby making the classic stories acceptable for their 9 yo audience…

And what do you make of this?

… I can’t see how a child’s reading comprehension improves by listening to a book . Most importantly, I do not see that audiobooks nurture a love of reading. In fact, I am inclined to think they do the opposite, cultivating a lazy child who is not willing to master the mechanics of reading for himself. Miss Mason speaks of this in Home Education:

We must remember the natural inertness of a child’s mind; give him the habit of being read to, and he will steadily shirk the labour of reading for himself; indeed, we all like to be spoon-fed with our intellectual meat, or we should read and think more for ourselves and be less eager to run after lectures.

Home Education p228

Later she says ~

… The real reason that I don’t use audiobooks is because one day when I’m dead and gone, I want J to remember my voice …

… I’m going to stick with read alouds. I’m going to make the most of every minute I have left. I’m going to snuggle together on the sofa with my daughter and read, read, read …

So, I’ll give my plans and the audio recordings a shot.  If it is like candy floss, quickly diluted into a sticky mess, I’ll just pick up the orignal play and read aloud.  I’ll let you know!

It has worked for everything else. 

It should work for Shakespeare.

How have you done Shakespeare with your middle schoolers?  And what are your thoughts on audiobooks?


Carnival of Homeschooling
This post is part of the 314th Carnival of Homeschooling.