Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet

Remember my Shakespeare plans and my uncertainty about the audio version?

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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,

frowns,

and a couple of sighs.

I plodded on a bit more,

explaining here and there …

and stopped.

A flop?

No.

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?

Blessings,

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

Shakespeare

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.

So,

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 HomeschoolRadioShows.com
  • 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?

Blessings,


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