We are a bit book obsessed in our house. As much as I love using our library (we often have the maximum number of books out on each on our library cards) I do still like having a selection of books that are permanent. Books that the kids can read multiple times over a number of years but I do try really hard to make sure that our permanent books are quality books, books on topics that you actually want the kids to read, multiple times over a number of different years. So a lot of our permanent books are non-fiction but we also have a permanent set of Classic stories (including Shakespeare). My oldest has actually started reading the proper unabridged versions of Shakespeare but we started collecting abridged retellings of his works quite a few years ago and I love these little gems.
I think we first stumbled onto the BIG CAT series around 4 or 5 years ago. It was quite by accident, I was looking for interesting readers and I found a few books in the series that looked interesting and then I noticed their Shakespeare collection and our own set of Shakespeare’s works started growing.
My aim was simple – I wanted my kids to discover Shakespeare at a young age so they would not be intimidated by the name Shakespeare. I wanted them to get a basic understanding of the plays – the characters and story lines so when they did start reading his original works they would already have a basic understanding.
And these abridged retellings have not failed. Both of my kids have read and reread them over the years. Both, now have an understanding of the basic plots and characters and when we do read Shakespeare together no-one is intimidated by the unusual words.
Each book is slightly different but they often include a summary of the main characters
and sometimes a summary of the story.
They also have interesting illustrations of the characters and events which always help to bring the story to life.
I am really glad we choose to introduce Shakespeare’s works in this format and even now, now that my oldest is reading the proper works she still dips backs and has a quick read of the abridged versions.
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