This specialized guide for parents hoping to instill a bit of literary genius into their youngsters is both a how-to book and a simple but serious analysis of many of Shakespeare’s major works. Olivier Award–winning playwright Ludwig’s (Lend Me A Tenor) compelling argument is that although it’s out of fashion, memorization—and particularly memorization of great literary works—is a gift you can give your children that will influence their academic and personal life. The book begins with an immediate lesson—memorizing a nine-word line from A Midsummer Night’s Dream—written in a direct, personal tone to show how easy and enjoyable the process can be; once this is demonstrated, Ludwig explains his methodology and purpose in the second chapter. Within 20 pages, the book turns to analysis of the chosen works as well as general lessons about Shakespeare’s life and important dates of the Renaissance, and discussions of the difference between poetry and prose. Ludwig breaks more famous speeches down, sentence by sentence, and highlights juicy bits and plot twists to hook children’s interest. The book, in coordination with a Web site of printable resources, will best suit parents with a real interest in and knowledge of Shakespeare, but will inspire any who wish to give their children the “benefit of his considerable knowledge and artistry.” Photos. Agent: Eric Simonoff, William Morris. (June)
Ken Ludwig's enthusiasm for Shakespeare and his lucid, accessible and inspiring book on How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare is a rare treat. You and your children will be transformed into the magic and mystery of Shakespeare and his stories in an instant. I highly recommend the book to all who have a love of language and history.” —Sir Derek Jacobi, CBE
“How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare is an inspired and inspiring book. It’s also a deeply rewarding one that will bring a great deal of pleasure to many parents and children. Ken Ludwig, a wonderful playwright, proves to be a superb guide to Shakespeare as well.” —James Shapiro, author of A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare and Contested Will
“I wish someone had given this book to my parents. It would have made a life-changing task downright fun. Ken Ludwig is a smart, congenial and inventive guide, and everywhere in this remarkable book he takes the strangeness out of Shakespeare's work and leaves the enchanting mystery. A book for all lovers, and potential lovers, of Shakespeare. Like nothing else, it creates a magical home theater for parents and their children.” —J. D. McClatchy, Yale University
“I have been in [Ken's] home. His children really do know Shakespeare. Read the book and you'll see why. It's scholarship dancing around with fun.” —Hal Holbrook
“Don’t be fooled by the title. This book is for anyone who wants to brush up on Shakespeare… Don’t buy this book to teach your children; take them along as you commit these beautiful speeches to memory.” —Kirkus Reviews
“[Ludiwg’s] enthusiasm is also infectious . . . it’s hard to come away from this book without wanting to find someone, child or adult, to convert.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer
Don't be fooled by the title. This book is for anyone who wants to brush up on Shakespeare. Playwright Ludwig, who has written numerous hit plays for Broadway and London's West End, explains his simple, proven method for teaching the works of the Bard of Avon--and we know it works, since he has used his children as guinea pigs, starting when they were 6. Now that they're off to college, flipping quotes back and forth, it's obvious that the simple repetition of short sections of speeches is most effective. The author includes a wide variety of speeches from such classic Shakespeare characters as Puck, Orsino, Macbeth, Falstaff, Rosalind and Hamlet. Learning to quote Shakespeare is one thing, but Ludwig opens up the secrets of the plays, the characters and the genius of the man. The best person to learn from is one who is passionate about his subject, and Ludwig certainly fits that bill. There is subtlety here: "no one in history, before or since, has written better than this." There is sufficient sprinkling of like praise and professional envy throughout the book. Shakespeare's creativity serves to cause creativity in those who read him. The difficulties we often encounter in his works are the unfamiliar words (though an English schoolchild would know more than an American), the oddly curious sentence structure and the broad use of metaphors. Shakespeare's dramatic methods, such as repetition of sounds, inversion of thoughts, curious rhyming and breaking right into the action are just a few of those that make him great. Some readers may liken it to a foreign language, but once the key phrases are explained, they will appreciate the magic and begin to fall in love with Shakespeare. Don't buy this book to teach your children; take them along as you commit these beautiful speeches to memory.