The Ides of March: Introducing Shakespeare to ChildrenMeredith Carroll
My fascination with the Ides of March began after I read Julius Caesar in high school. I liked the idea of having to “beware” of something; it added some mystery and intrigue to the early part of the year and my otherwise normal existence. To this day, I’m conscious of all-things superstitious on March 15th, even though any other day of the year I could care less if I walk under a ladder or cross the path of a black cat.
But my love of all things Shakespeare began forming earlier — when I was in my middle school production of The Taming of the Shrew. The poetry of the words and how easily the story related to my life (mean girls, a frustrated dad, unrequited love) set off what has become a lifetime love of the written word, especially if that word is courtesy of the Bard.
I feel like one of the greatest gifts I can give to my daughter is exposing her to great literature. She’s too young for anything as lofty as a full Shakespeare play now, and her book preference is generally limited to selections with hard covers and hard pages, but it won’t be long before I think we can start reading her sonnets.
She has taken a liking to songs that are very visual in her little world, like “My Favorite Things” she easily imagines and enjoys singing about rain drops, roses, kittens, snowflakes and girls in white dresses. Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18 talks about the darling winds of May, buds, gold complexion and summer, which I think could also help spark her imagination in an equally fun way.
And simply speaking some of Shakespeare’s elegant phrases are a great introduction for kids, too:
You are the rising sun which I adore.
You have a face where all good seems to dwell.
I’ll bathe my lips in rosy dews of kisses.
I wear you in my heart.
Hopefully it won’t be too long before we can start some longer passages, but baby steps with a toddler are better than nothing. The Folger Library site also has some great resources for helping kids learn about — and love — Shakespeare.
What’s the right age to introduce Shakespeare to kids?