9781594746376T. S. Eliot famously wrote that “April is the cruelest month”—and William Shakespeare may be apt to agree with him, as he died on April 23, 1616 in Stratford-upon-Avon shortly after his fifty-second birthday. However, though the Bard himself passed away, his work and his words have proven immortal. It’s impossible to know if Shakespeare was cognizant of the way in which his tragedies, comedies, and histories would persist throughout the centuries. Who knows? Maybe he wouldn’t have been surprised in the least that in the twenty-first century he still takes center stage in English classes across the globe (or that his plays are still performed at that other Globe). Still, could he, in all his wisdom and piercing insight into humanity, ever have predicted that someday there would be a Shakespearean retelling of Star Wars? Probably not. (more…)

by Ken Ludwig, author of How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare (Broadway Books, July 2014)

Since my early teens, I’ve felt strongly about the value of Shakespeare, but it wasn’t until I became a father that I figured out how to share my passion with the people I love. One day, my daughter came home from first grade spouting a line of Shakespeare—“I know a bank where the wild thyme blows” from A Midsummer Night’s Dream—and at that moment, a light bulb went off in my head.

Starting that weekend, I set up a routine. My daughter and I would spend two hours each week memorizing speeches from Shakespeare’s plays. We started with short passages from the comedies and, gradually, increased the length and complexity of the passages we studied. To my delight, my daughter took to it immediately, and the hours we spent learning Shakespeare together were some of the best family times of our lives. (more…)