Poetry for Young People: William Shakespeare

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Poetry for Young People: William Shakespeare (edited by David Scott Kastan and Marina Kastan and illustrated by Glenn Harrington) goes beyond Shakespeare’s sonnets. In just 50 pages, the editors have also included some of the key speeches from Shakespeare’s repertoire.

As with other volumes in the series, each page has a bit of explanation about the poem that follows. In this case, it also gives a background to particular play the poem is from and the reasons for each speech in the midst of it. It’s a great introduction to Shakespeare’s plays — including tragedies, comedies, and histories — and it’s a great reminder of the context of the classic lines and phrases we’ve heard so often, from “Double, double, toil and trouble” to “All the world’s a stage,/ and all the men and women merely players” and “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”

The paintings were prepared exclusively for this children’s book. Each illustration is mature and bright, and each is appropriate for the poem at hand. I think the illustrations are absolutely stunning.

This volume focusing on Shakespeare is the most mature of the three books I’ve reviewed from the Poetry for Young People series (I’ve also looked at Robert Louis Stevenson and Lewis Carroll). It is by far my favorite: it’s perfectly appropriate and interesting for adult and child alike.

Poetry for Young People: William Shakespeare counts for the BiblioShakespeare Challenge.

Reviewed on May 15, 2009

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  • My boys have the Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost books from this series. They thought Frost was boring, and we never finished it, but they ate up the Dickinson one. In the middle, it collects up a number of the poems that can be read as riddles (A Narrow Fellow, for instance, and It sifts from leaden sieves), and the boys thought it was really neat being able to try to work together to figure out twhat the answers were. Then it had some of the deeper poems too, ones that a child can udnerstand in their own way – I’m Nobody for instance. The boys try to read a poem before bedtime every night, and after the Dickinson book, I usually can’t get them to read any other poets, now, they always want me to pull out my Complete Poems, now. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Jason, I’m looking forward to finding the Dickinson one too now! I like the series, and that is awesome that your kids love the Complete Poems because of the introduction from this series. Great way to get them in to poetry.

    Lenore, I think this volume is great for all ages!

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