A foolproof, enormously fun method of teaching your children Shakespeare

A delightfully engaging guide to helping children fall in love with the works of William Shakespeare. William Shakespeare’s plays are among the great bedrocks of Western civilization and contain the finest writing of the past 450 years. From Jane Austen to The Godfather, many of the best novels, plays, poetry, and films in the English language produced since Shakespeare’s death in 1616 are heavily influenced by Shakespeare’s stories, characters, language, and themes. In a sense, his works are a kind of Bible for the modern world, bringing us together intellectually and spiritually. Hamlet, Juliet, Macbeth, Ophelia, and a vast array of other singular Shakespearean characters have become the archetypes of our consciousness. To know some Shakespeare provides a head start in life. In How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare, acclaimed playwright Ken Ludwig provides the tools you need to instill an understanding, and a love, of Shakespeare’s works in your children, while enjoying every minute of your time together along the way.

Ken Ludwig developed his methods while teaching his own children, and his approach is friendly and easy to master. It begins with the memorization of short passages from Shakespeare’s plays. It then continues with an exploration of Shakespeare’s life and time period, the implications of Shakespeare’s choice of words, and an exposure to cultural references that children will use for years to come. Ludwig delves into each play with an eye to revealing the invaluable lessons behind Shakespeare’s characters and stories. Colorfully incorporating the history of Shakespearean theater and society, How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare guides readers on an informed and adventurous journey through the world in which Shakespeare wrote.

About Ken Ludwig

Ken Ludwig Ken Ludwig is an internationally acclaimed playwright who has had numerous hits on Broadway, in London’s West End, and throughout the world. He has won two Laurence Olivier Awards (England’s highest theater honor), two Tony Award nominations, two Helen Hayes Awards, and an Edgar Award. His work has been commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Bristol Old Vic, and his plays have been performed in over thirty countries in more than twenty languages. His best-known works include Lend Me a Tenor, Crazy for You, Moon over Buffalo, Leading Ladies, Shakespeare in Hollywood, The Game’s Afoot, The Fox on the Fairway, and adaptations of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Three Musketeers, Treasure Island, and The Beaux’ Stratagem. He holds degrees from Harvard, where he studied music with Leonard Bernstein, Haverford College, and Cambridge University.

About John Lithgow

John Lithgow is a Tony Award winning actor, Oscar nominee, and winner of five Emmy Awards. In addition to his remarkable acting career, Lithgow is a New York Times bestselling author. In 2013, Lithgow was honored as a Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal recipient and was inducted into The American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2005 he was presented with an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by Harvard and became the first actor in Harvard’s history to deliver the school’s Commencement Address. Lithgow has three grown children, two grandchildren, and lives in Los Angeles and New York. He has been married for over thirty years to Mary Yeager, a Professor of Economic and Business History at UCLA.


Listen to the Shakespearean passages from the book below from actors Sir Derek Jacobi, CBE, Richard Clifford, and Frances Barber and follow along in How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare.

The audio player is not compatible with Internet Explorer. To listen to the clips, please make sure to use Firefox, Chrome, Safari, or another browser.

Passage 1
Passage 2
Passage 3
Passage 4
Passage 5
Passage 6
Passage 7
Passage 8
Passage 9
Passage 10
Passage 11
Passage 12
Passage 13
Passage 14
Passage 15
Passage 16
Passage 17
Passage 18
Passage 19
Passage 20
Passage 21
Passage 22
Passage 23
Passage 24
Passage 25
Passage 26

About The Actors

Derek Jacobi’s extensive theatre credits include: Heartbreak House [Chichester Festival Theatre/Clifford], King Lear [Donmar Warehouse/UK Tour/BAM/Grandage], Twelfth Night (Olivier Awards 2009 – winner: Best Actor) [Wyndhams Theatre/Grandage], A Voyage Round My Father [Donmar Warehouse/ Wyndhams Theatre/Sharrock], Don Carlos [Sheffield Crucible/Apollo Theatre/Grandage], The Tempest [Sheffield Crucible/Old Vic Theatre/ Grandage], The Hollow Crown [RSC tour: Australia/New Zealand/ Stratford-upon-Avon/John Barton], Macbeth [RSC Barbican/Noble], As You Like It [NT Old Vic Theatre], and as director of Hamlet [Phoenix Theatre].
In Film:
Grace of Monaco [Stone Angels], There Be Dragons [Mount Santa Fe A.I.E/ Joffe], The Golden Compass [New Line Cinema/Weitz],Nanny McPhee [Working Title/Jones], GosFord Park [USA Films/Robert Altman], The Children’s Midsummer Night’s Dream[Sands Films/Edzard], Gladiator [Universal/Scott], Charlotte [BBC/Weisz], Othello [BHE Films/Warner Brothers/Burge].
In Television:
Vicious [Brown Eyed Boy for ITV1/Bye], Last Tango in Halifax [BBC/Lynn], Titanic [Deangelis Group/Ciaran Donnelly], The Borgias [Showtime/Jordan], Doctor Who-Series III [DW Productions Ltd for BBC1/Harper], London [BBC/Granlund], The Gathering Storm [HBO/Loncraine], Frasier [NBC/Egan], Jason and the Argonauts [Showtime/Willing], The Secret Garden [Hallmark/CBS/Grint], The Hunchback of Notre Dame[Rosemont Productions/CBS/Tuchner], I, Claudius [BBC/Wise/Graves].
In Narration:
In the Night Garden [Ragdoll Productions Ltd/Campbell/Kirby], Mist: Sheepdog Tales [Borough Valley/Miles/Kennard], Henry VIII [WGBH/HBO/Travis], Great Escape: The Untold Story [Granada Prod /MGM Home Ent/Clarke], Animated Epics: Beowulf [Christmas Films/HBO/Kulakov].

Richard was born in India and educated in Dorset and London where he has lived since graduating from the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art.
As Actor:
Theatre: Cause Celebre, Forever Ivor, Ivanov, Twelfth Night, Hamlet; Cyrano de Bergerac, Much Ado About Nothing, Rebecca, As You Like It, Hamlet. Hedda Gabler, The Magistrate, She Stoops to Conquer, Gaslight, Love for Love, The Tempest.
Film: My Week with Marylin, String Caesar, The Edge of Love, As You Like It, Henry V, Dangerous Man, Much Ado About Nothing, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Carrington, Frankenstein, The Fool, Little Dorrit. Television: Sparkling Cyanide, An Accident waiting to Happen, Desmonds, The Fortunes of War, Queen of Swords, Brother Cadfael. Richard is partner in a film company: Bits and Pieces Picture Company
As Director:
Heartbreak House,The Game of Love and Chance, Elizabeth the Queen, All’s Well That Ends Well, She Stoops to Conquer The Mikado, Pirates of Penzance, The Tempest The Fairy Queen, Comus. Breaking the Code, Playing the Wife, Die Fledermaus.
Richard has directed various Galas, including both in the UK and abroad, The Royal Shakespeare Company at the Durbar Hall London, The Folger 75th Anniversary Gala Washington, The Golden Quill at the Middle Temple London.

Frances’s theatre credits include: Julius Caesar [Donmar]; Les Parents Terribles [Donmar];That Face [Crucible, Sheffield] 2010 Nomination for TMA Theatre Award in the Best Performance in a Play category; Afterplay [Kings, Edinburgh / Gate, Dublin]; Madame De Sade [Donmar/Wyndhams]; King Lear & The Seagull [RSC]; Anthony & Cleopatra [Globe]; One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest [Edinburgh,& Gielgud] (Whatsonstage.com Theatregoers’ Choice Awards 2005 Best Actress nomination); Tales From Vienna Woods [Royal National Theatre]; Closer to Heaven [Arts] (What’s On Stage Award Best Actress in a Musical); Closer [Lyric]; Uncle Vanya [Chichester & Tour] (1996 TMA Regional Award Best Supporting Actress & 1996 Olivier Nominee Best Supporting Actress); Insignificance [Donmar]; Pygmalion [RNT]; The Night of the Iguana [RNT]; Imagine Drowning [Hampstead] (1991 John Whiting Award Best New Play by Terry Johnson; directed by Richard Wilson) The Dead Monkey [RSC]; Love’s Labour’s Lost [RSC]; Hamlet [RSC]; Camille [RSC & Comedy Theatre] (1984 Olivier Award Most Promising Newcomer). Her numerous television credits include: Psychobitches and The Spa, both Tiger Aspect series for Sky Television; a new regular in the series Silk [BBC]; several episodes of Doctor Who [BBC]; Midsomer Murders [ITV]; A Passionate Woman [Rollem]; The Fattest Man in Britain [ITV]; The Street III [BBC] [BBC]; Boudica [Box]; Love in a Cold Climate [BBC]; and 10 series of Bremner, Bird and Fortune for Channel Four. Her film credits include: Goal!1 & 2; Suzie Gold; Superstition; Shiner; Still Crazy; Photographing Fairies; Soft Top, Hard Shoulder; Sammy & Rosie Get Laid; Prick Up Your Ears; A Zed and Two Noughts; and The Missionary.

How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig

Barnes & Noble

Shelf Talker
Quotation Sheet
Passage 1-5
Passage 6-10
Passage 11-15
Passage 16-20
Passage 21-25
Bonus Passage