Recently, the Wall Street Journal asked me to review Ken Ludwig’s new book How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare. I really, really wanted to like this book. And for the first few chapters I loved it. And then…

By the time I got to Chapter 37’s instructions on memorizing Hamlet’s soliloquies (“that possibility—that death would bring us the nightmares of hell . . . stops us from killing ourselves”), I was pretty well convinced that children have no business reading Shakespeare, let alone memorizing it.

You can read the whole review at the Wall Street Journal online. (If you have trouble getting past the “subscribe” page, you can also google “Wise Bauer” “Fancy’s Children” and follow the top link…for some reason that brings up the full article while the above link doesn’t always. Putting your browser on “incognito” or “private” will also help. And no, that wasn’t my original title. I liked mine better.)

Showing 13 comments
  • Jessica

    Links to Wall Street Journal…only subscribers may access. 🙁

  • Susan

    Jessica, I added an alternate way in–try googling “Wise Bauer” and “Fancy’s Children” and then clicking on the top link.

  • WTMCassandra

    Susan, Aha! Your fix worked. Thank you!

  • Leah

    The Google method didn’t work for me. Perhaps it is because I’m looking from a mobile device.

  • Jessica

    Wonderful! Thanks so much for this review. Wise as usual. 😉

  • Susan

    Leah, I noticed that too–it loaded from my laptop but not from my iPad. I’ll post the whole review once it’s out of the WSJ subscriber-only content, but I can’t do so while they’ve still got it protected.

  • Lissa

    Won’t work for me on a laptop even with the fix. Boo.

  • Susan

    Lissa–try with an incognito or private browsing window. That brought it up for me.

  • Marcy Novak

    The link comes up, but only the first sentence is visible. Them you have to sign in or subscribe. My 7 year old enjoys Jim Weiss reading. I’m curious to read your review.

  • Sebastian

    Got in using the Google search terms. WSJ tends to restrict mobile access more than desktops also.

    I thought the review was good. The distinction between enjoying or even loving Shakespeare and thinking that all bits of his work are worthy of memorization is a good one to draw.
    Have we simply reached a point where children are viewed as mini adults, who ought be dosed with whatever adults relish? (Or maybe returned to that idea, as I remember hearing that this was a view held in past eras. Puritans? Renaissance?)

  • Kenny Gannon

    I use a book called Will Power. It is a clear, detailed, simple step by step process for demystifying the Bard. The Ludwig book sounds like an awful throwback to the bad old days of positivism. This is what means. Thanks for the review.

  • Loren Swan

    I was in sixth grade when I was introduced to Macbeth and I much enjoyed it. If convicts with a third grade education can reinact The Tempest, surely there is much to be gained despite a child’s still developing craniums. I think we really underestimate children’s potential. In John Taylor Gatto’s Underground History of American Education, he makes this emphatically clear by showcasing the aggressive approach to the educational standard of the youngest brood. But is this Limey book a gimmick? I guess I would have to read it for myself. Luckily I have no small litter to appease at the moment 🙂 It is not of a great priority. Recently I have read The Well Educated Mind (review on goodreads) and I wonder, with the advent of eBooks is a new edition in order? The way we read is changing don’t you think? Do you feel a need to address this?

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