Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Shakespeare Inspiration!

Inspired by the AMAZING webcast Sarah Mackenzie at the Read Aloud Revival Membership site hosted last night with Ken Ludwig, I have to write about enjoying Shakespeare with children. 

For those of you who don't know who Ken Ludwig is, his resume is long and distinguished to put it mildly. What makes one fall in love with him though is his passion for Shakespeare! 

In 2014, his book How to Teach your Children Shakespeare  was published.  Since then, the number of children learning and quoting The Bard at home has exploded!  Ken has taken a topic, which for some parents and educators, has seemed dated or unattainable and shared hands on techniques for making the greatest playwright of all time come alive for the youngest children. In an age when the art of memorizing by heart has been all but lost, Mr. Ludwig shows how to memorize the most famous of Shakespeare's words.

As you can tell, I am a fan of the book.  My children say their favorite thing we do is memorize Shakespeare.  Why? 

"It's fun to say!" - daughter, 4
"Everyone is so impressed!" - son, 7
"It sounds better than anything else!" - son, 9

Who can argue with that? 

Already a fan of the book and comfortable with Shakespeare myself, I was uncertain if the Read Aloud Revival's webcast would even be worth my time.  IT WAS!  It was worth the membership price for the year!

If you ever have a chance to hear Mr. Ludwig speak about Shakespeare, take it!  His deep love for the words and stories was mesmerizing; every word and motion, cadence and inflection, was a passionate endorsement for the extrinsic value of the Bard for everyone. 
Ken Ludwig
Ken Ludwig

To say Mr. Ludwig is inspiring would be an understatement!  He not only shared his love of Shakespeare but many practical resources for parents on how to impart that same love to their children, as he has done! 

I wish Mr. Ludwig would create an online Shakespeare course for everyone!  He truly could light the world afire with his love of Shakespeare!

But, how do you teach Shakespeare to children?
I will give an example from our own experience with A Midsummer Night's Dream.

I always wanted my children to love Shakespeare as I do, but memorization of it was not something I even contemplated.

We listened to Jim Weiss's wonderful retelling in Shakespeare for Children, as an introduction. By listening to an award-winning story teller, like Jim Weiss, explain A Midsummer Night's Dream, even my daughter who was three at the time, knew the story and characters well.  I also picked up a few story versions from our local library.  As I was not overly impressed with their retellings, I just left them around for the children to look at the magical pictures. 

We are fortunate enough to have Cincinnati Shakespeare Company near us!  Each summer they do free performances of  A Midsummer Night's Dream.  These productions are not only magical because of the lovely outdoor settings, but laugh out loud hilarious!  Of course being outside, allows for younger children to wiggle around and for everyone to enjoy a picnic dinner while watching.  Last year, my kids said seeing this show was a highlight of their summer!

This year we added Mr. Ludwig's memorization of Shakespeare to our together time.  A few times a week, we said a few lines from A Midsummer Night's Dream, as outline in How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare. They have learned 4 passages this year and recite them constantly!

I have heard many times, "I can't wait to see A Midsummer Night's Dream again this summer and hear how they say this."

Be still my heart!  Who can argue with any of that? 

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