I’m Taking On Shakespeare

filed under: Miscellaneous on March 19, 2010

I loved reading your comments about Shakespeare and how you have incorporated it into your lives… you really got me thinking girls!  In a very good way.

I agree that Shakespeare is an extremely intelligent writer, with great use of language and exquisitely described emotion.

I do not think it is appropriate for children.  Mostly.  Like  Seraphim mentioned, "Shakespeare wrote some of the most lyrical and beautiful verses that have
endured for centuries and I see no harm in sharing that with children."

True that.

In my personal experience, I read and saw Romeo and Juliet when I
was in middle school… I was totally distracted by the 'sex' scene. The story…the fantastic tragedy and
heart wrenching love saga… were all lost on me. I was a teenager.  And I do not believe mine was an abnormal response.

If one of the defenses is, "Children should learn this literature and the
human complexities behind it and understand the value of 'classic'

…well, then should they be reading adapted versions?  If
that is truly the argument, then what value is the 'childrens' version,
where the beauty of the language and the true story is not represented?

That being said, I do not think the content is appropriate for children.  Most certainly not for 7, 8, 9 or 10 year olds.

Now, am I so old fashioned as to try and shield my children from every genre that Shakespeare represents?

Golly no.

Thats what the Bible is for.  The original great

The Bible has its own share of lust, incest, murder,
deception, and greed.  The benefit of children hearing it from the
Bible is the follow through.  Not only are they exposed to the
grotesque sin of all man, but it is coupled with the grace, mercy, and forgiveness of a holy and loving God.

Can a child truly understand Shakespeare and his complex irony if
they don't have a strong Biblical foundation to perceive it from? 
Maybe.  But I am not willing to take the chance with my children.

So, thats my opinion.  I apologize if this is offensive to anyone. 

But I thank you for sharing your insights and hope you know that you made an impact!

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  • Jessica says:

    I didn’t answer on the Shakespeare because honestly I didn’t know. Not having kids myself right now, I couldn’t remember if it would be appropriate or not. I do know that at 16-17 years old I still barely understood it, so I totally agree with you!

  • Kim says:

    Definitely something for an older set of kids. I read Romeo and Juliet in middle school (about 14) and I don’t remember a sex scene, but I don’t remember much. I think it is old age kicking in. I think it would be appropriate to share bits and pieces but probably not whole works.

  • Kim@SoManyKids says:

    Definitely something for an older set of kids. I read Romeo and Juliet in middle school (about 14) and I don’t remember a sex scene, but I don’t remember much. I think it is old age kicking in. I think it would be appropriate to share bits and pieces but probably not whole works.

  • Mama23Bears says:

    you are so right!! kids will have plenty of time for all the that stuff when they are older.

  • Londa says:

    Awesomely put, Amanda! All literature pales in value to the beauty, depth, and most of all, life-changing grace that’s found in God’s Word!
    Happy Friday!

  • Erica Lea says:

    I agree. I think some parents wish to introduce their children to the “classics”, but don’t realize that there are many inappropriate scenes. Yes, the Bible is the best book to read about those subjects. It presents it in such an open, straightforward, un-romanticized way. Great subject for discussion!

  • Kate says:

    I agree with you ๐Ÿ™‚
    Besides, the beauty of Shakespeare is going to go over their heads until they’re much older, IMO.

  • Angie says:

    My kids are 15, 10, and 5. I’ve learned that I go with the cues that my kids are giving. What I mean by that is, kids are exposed to so many things at school, etc. When they come home and say a word or ask about something that isn’t always appropriate at their age, but must have heard it somewhere, then it’s time to give them accurate information. I’m finding that especially necessary with the 15 year old. They tend to call names that fly off the tongue, but truly don’t know the true meaning or don’t take the time to think about what the meaning of the things they say are. I think with Shakespeare I’d do the same. If they ask about it, or express an interest then it’s time. If they are old enough to ask, they are old enough to have it explained. I would rather them have correct information from me, than ask a friend and walk around with a lot of misconstrued thoughts or ideas.

  • Luciana says:

    I think that some books and some authors need a level of understanding that children do not posses and that’s fine, they’re children!
    So, they should be enjoying some lectures appropriate for them, and of course to learn about good and bad, kindness and sorrows in a more adult and strong way, they have the Bible.

  • Kristin says:

    Well said!

  • Traci says:

    I love how you put it into perspective compared to the Bible and I agree. The Bible is far superior and the fact that it ‘resolves’ in a Biblical way can’t be beat.
    I do see a place for adaptations as far as giving a general sense of a story and most are even ‘cleaner’ than the original work b/c of the paring down but I think it all comes back to establishing a Biblical worldview in a child that will become their filter and that should be a higher priority.
    Great discussion Amanda! Be blessed!

  • Liz says:

    I’ve been thinking about this more since yesterday and i agree, and disagree. The Bible, unquestionably, is the greatest book and should absolutely be taught.
    What I’d like to see with Shakespeare and kids is not so much reading or even teaching of it. I think much of the value of Shakespeare comes from the spoken language and that it would benefit kids to be exposed to that while they are still more attuned to learning “language” in an auditory way.
    However, I would only teach small portions of select plays and sonnets, much like we choose the portions of the Bible to teach at different ages.
    Hmmm…still thinking about it though.

  • mindy says:

    You really had me thinking!! And sheesh! Like this would stop me from reading you.. bah! I think scripture is more important than any work of literature when we teach our children. It is the greatest foundation for all learnings in life. I don’t set out to teach my children certain things when it comes to that of the world, but as the 13th Article of Faith (a document of beliefs in my church) states, “Anything virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.” So it is among those things that we choose to teach our children. The timeline is often set by promptings, and planned for the the ultimate creator, one who I consult everyday with my role as a mother. I think that opinions make the world a lot more fun and colorful than it would be if we all thought or believed the exact same way.. that being said, I LOVE YOU (and your opinions/beliefs and that you SHARE them)!!! ๐Ÿ™‚

  • Kristin Kunoff says:

    Do not apologize for offending anyone. Christ did not apologize for offending ppl, neither should you…and I say this with the best intentions. I am not shaking my finger at you, but trying to encourage you and your faith! I hope this comes out like I’m trying to make it sound.
    Anyway….I enjoy reading your blog and love the fact that you are a fellow sister in Christ. I know when I come to your page that I will be uplifted. Thank you for your commitment to Him!

  • carma says:

    the extend of my knowledge of Shakespeare comes from watching his plays at a local college back in the 90’s. I don’t think I paid much attention unfortunately.
    I’m sure it will be more appropriate than my son’s worksheet, so I say go for it…

  • carma says:

    After reading everyone else’s well-crafted comments with knowledge to back them up, please ignore my previous comment. It comes across as crass.

  • Bethany says:

    Great perspective. ๐Ÿ™‚
    I was thinking after I wrote my comment yesterday, I was thinking the Bible and Shakespear had a few things in common. The big difference is there isn’t the same inuendo or suggestiveness in the Bible. Sure there’s the Song of Solomon, but that’s written with the purpose of celebrating married sex. JMO ๐Ÿ™‚

  • MommyTopics.com says:

    It always amazes me how often parents let their guards down regarding the content of books their children are reading in the name of “just making sure they’re reading.”
    I don’t agree with your perspective on Shakespeare because:
    1. There are Children’s versions on his work that are as benign of adult content as the Children’s versions of the very gruesome Grimm’s Fairytales.
    2. It’s not about introducing 7 year olds to the beauty of the language now. It’s about introducing them to Shakespeare himself and the plots of his stories so that in high school when they are challenged with his difficult language, they wont feel nervous about it, but will have been familiar with his stories since childhood.
    However, I love that you brought this up, and I definitely do appreciate your perspective on it and wanting to protect your children’s innocence. I do too, but I just feel I’ve found ways to do that and also introduce them the Shakespeare in an age appropriate way.
    And for the record I think Romeo and Juliet is the story we are the most familiar with as adults, but it is one of the stories I’ve never shared with my children and wont until they are in their late teens because of the issue of suicide at the heart of the climax of the story. Your are right… that one is not appropriate but, Shakespeare has much more to offer than Romeo and Juliet.
    I’m glad you brought this topic up and got everyone thinking about it, talking about it, and hopefully being more purposeful and vigilant in making decisions about what they allow their children to read.
    Blessings Friend!

  • Cop Mama says:

    My favorite Bible story to tell my kiddos is Noah and the Ark. Um, Shakespeare…not so much with a 1 and 3 year old…lol!

  • Ruth says:

    Hmmm… That’s pretty good. Like I said before I’d really never thought about it much, having not really run into it. I’m pretty familiar with the curriculum my kids are taught at school and I fairly certain it does not include shakespeare, so it never really crossed my mind.
    However, with the kids I do work with I wish some parents were more aware of what their children were reading, listening to, watching on television, and doing on the internet. There are so many more places they can be exposed to this stuff than just Shakespheare’s plays.
    I like how you drew the paralell with the Bible that. That was like a rock’em sock’em punch!

  • Melissa says:

    totally not related but your rainbow cake post wouldn’t let me post…
    I did assembled it a little differently that saved a lot of time. I baked all six layers and froze them wrapped in saran wrap. Then I assembled all the layers at once with the frozen layers.
    Also, I cut out a piece of parchment paper for the bottom of my cake pans that let the cakes slide right out.

  • ElizaBeth says:

    Having recently written a paper on book banning, a thought *sarcasm noted ๐Ÿ˜‰ occurred to me. Mark Twain’s target audience was adults, yet we have our children read his books. Why and to what benefit? Who was Shakespeare’s target audience? Adults, as well. I think that we, generally, have become desensitized to violence and indecency. Why and how do we change that for ourselves and our children? “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8 KJV. Thank you for really getting me to examine my purpose in choosing what I teach my children.

  • Tauna says:

    This is a great post and it was interesting to read all the comments. My kids are a bit young to even think about it yet (2 and 6 months) but I agree with you completely. Love the point about the Bible being a rich resource of stories that raise your eyebrows or make you cringe, but its the Word of GOD! However, as an aside, I’m actually a big fan of movies and literature and even the Bible modified to age-appropriate levels. How cool is it to see the David and Bathsheba story represented by yellow duckies? C’mon, admit it. It was pretty cool.

  • ClassiclyAmber says:

    I agree with you, and believe that you are striking a fine balance on this one!