The kids and I have been studying Shakespeare since September. We start with E. Nesbit (easiest to understand), continue on to David Timson (more detail), and conclude with Charles and Mary Lamb (most original Shakespeare).
Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare for Children by E. Nesbit
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Shakespeare Stories by David Timson
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Here are my mini reviews for each version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, and Romeo and Juliet.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream:
E. Nesbit – The language isn’t as Shakespearean as the Lamb version, but that makes it easier for children to understand.
Daivd Timson – This version contains more details than either Nesbit’s or Lamb’s. It is easy to understand AND includes plenty of the original lines.
Charles and Mary Lamb – I, personally, love this version as it uses a fair amount of Shakespeare’s own language. My children, however, were still pretty confused as to what was going on. A Midsummer Night’s Dream has a complicated plot and is based on confusion, so it’s no surprise that they found it hard to follow.
E. Nesbit – I had to explain the story to my kids after reading it. It IS pretty confusing.
David Timson – The kids said this one was easier to understand (although that could be because they’re already familiar with it now). I appreciate that this version included the Malvolio plot.
Charles and Mary Lamb – Easy to understand but still retaining Shakespeare’s charm. Why do the versions for kids usually leave out the Malvolio plot?
Romeo and Juliet:
E. Nesbit – This version is clear enough for youngsters to understand, without being overly graphic. I talked with my children afterward about how this story is NOT a great romance. It is a cautionary tale to adults who hold grudges for no good reason.
David Timson – The retelling is decent, although my son pointed out that Romeo’s fight with Paris was eliminated. I had to deduct a bit for the giggle inducing sound effects on the audio – squeaky, smacky kisses, as well as gurgling noises when the lovers drank their various potions.
Charles and Mary Lamb – It’s been awhile since I read this version or saw Shakespeare’s play. I had forgotten the part about young ladies pretending not to love their lovers (so that’s where P&P’s Mr. Collins got the idea!). This is a beautiful story, but NOT a great love story. As my son so wisely pointed out – they don’t even know each other!