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Skip to 0 minutes and 14 secondsI have a 10-year-old son. I have two sons, a 10 and a seven-year-old. My 10-year-old has been coming and seeing Shakespeare since he was five. He saw All's Well That Ends Well when he was about five and a half. He's never been frightened of it. And he has now seen eight or so different Shakespeare plays. But because he was never told to worry about it, he's always understood it. I find it extraordinary. He, on his own, learned To Be Or Not To Be one afternoon just because he wanted to. And that's thrilling. I have another son who's seven. He likes doing. He likes playing. He's not interested in sitting still and watching.

Skip to 0 minutes and 56 secondsAnd when he's come to the theater, he's been bored rigid. And I completely understand both attitudes. I hate being in the theatre and watching. I love being in the theatre and playing. But I'm delighted that one of my sons can listen to the language and not be frightened by it. So Shakespeare is not something that anyone should feel they have to like or have to sit and watch. It something you can come and go from.

Shakespeare for children

In this video, James Garnon talks about the appeal of Shakespeare to children.

He contrasts the attitudes of his sons. One of them loves the theatre, the other one is ‘bored rigid’ by it.

  • Which of James’ sons most resembles you as a child?
  • Were you introduced to Shakespeare’s work as a child?
  • If so, what did you think of it?
  • Do schoolchildren in your country study Shakespeare? If so, which plays do they usually study?
  • What do you think is the best age for a young person to start watching Shakespeare?
  • Which Shakespeare plays are most suitable for children?

Tell us more
To what extent do you agree with this statement?

“Shakespeare shouldn’t be taught in schools. The language is outdated, the plots are unrealistic and most students just don’t get the message.”

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This video is from the free online course:

Exploring English: Shakespeare

British Council