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Shakespeare for Kids

Ben Jonson argued that the genius of William Shakespeare was for all time. He could also have said that his icon will be for all group ages. Here is a sampling of some of the Shakespeare products especially designed for children and toddlers. Note: the name which appears on the Prezi account is Franz Bangalan, and not Gian Carlo Velasco, because I “squatted” on his account. My own account doesn’t work.


  1. isheee
    March 14, 2011 at 7:27 am

    I think it’s amazing that people have come up with anything Shakespeare, even merchandise that are targeted for the younger age groups. I particularly am curious about that board game with the name words Play’s Thing? Those little cardboard people intrigued me.

    Although I can’t help but wonder how much ‘Shakespeare’ can these kids actually know? I mean, the people who these were designated for. I’m assuming, around 7-12 years of age? If I would look back at the time when I was that young, I would have played with practically anything (because I never fully appreciated Shakespeare’s works then) and it would not have made a difference for me.

    I’m thinking that the groups who market these earn more from Shakespeare devoted people who buy it as a collector’s item. It would be a waste though, to not play with it. I mean, look at those Barbie dolls!

    P.S. I can’t believe that the magnetic poetry kit actually exists! I read about it in “The Rule of Four”, and I just never really thought that it does exist in real life. It just goes to show that Shakespeare is practically EVERYWHERE.

    • March 14, 2011 at 11:31 am

      Yes it’s amazing how much breadth Shakespeare merchandise has. Those little cardboard people in the “Play’s Thing,” according to my research, are actual characters from the plays. Funny, right? As to these toys’ being more of collectors’ items over educational or pedagogical implements, I think it goes both ways: they are entertaining for children and toddlers, although not necessarily more than other board games by virtue of their association with Shakespeare; and, at the same time, valuable for adults who recognize their rarity and cultural significance.

  2. March 18, 2011 at 11:26 pm

    WOW! I can’t believe that there are even Shakespeare Barbies. People are so creative. Now i want to see something that hasn’t been portrayed as something in relation to Shakespeare!

  3. humunahumuna
    March 20, 2011 at 5:16 am

    Those bard (hehe, clever btw) games could actually be a pretty cool education tool to learn Shakespeare. I personally would prolly get into Shakespeare as a kid if it meant playing with those things. The duck Shakespeare was pretty random though. Why a duck? Was it his favorite animal or something?

    Oh, some of the souvenirs from Stratford-Upon-Avon would fit right into your presentation. I bought home a pencil sharpener with Shakespeare’s face on it from the place and I can’t imagine them being marketed for anyone but school-age kids.

    • March 20, 2011 at 2:18 pm

      Hello Shakespeareonhand and Humunahumuna! Yes I agree with you both. The human race has proven its unending creativity in the various ways it has recast the bard, and some of these, such as toys and games, can serve as introductory instruments for his more “serious” works. Funny, but were you also thinking of Charles and Mary Lamb while watching my presentation? As for the duck, I myself am unsure of its being chosen. Lol. But it does seem strangely cute, right?

  4. mjcshimada
    March 20, 2011 at 4:38 pm

    I find it cute (for lack of a better word) that people exert effort–such as creating Shakespeare toys–in introducing and making Shakespeare their kids’ new friend. Though for literary awareness, or simply because of the fact that they find it impressive in children to know their Shakespeare at such a young age, this may be the step to a truly global Shakespeare, not only in western ideals, but as adapted and understood by all cultures. Because if children are on their way to knowing and recognizing Shakespeare, then perhaps this may be the motivation the elders (lol) need. I am also expressing my sentiments that maybe us Filipinos could use this as a way to spread Shakespeare, especially the transmedial aspect of him, perhaps through merchandise as an introduction, we might get a move on to movies, then TV series/ adaptations, cartoons, etc. 😉

    • March 21, 2011 at 3:19 am

      Ms. Shimada that is not an entirely far-fetched idea. I imagine that perhaps Shakespeare is too foreign for us in order to appreciate firsthand, and why mediating tools such as these toys and this website help a lot. There is a risk in choosing this option though, for as in our class discussion on Shakespeare in Graphic Novels or Comics underscored, most persons, once having read an “easier” adaptation of Shakespeare, or worse, having watched a “contemporary” version of any of his plays, become too lethargic and dangerously complacent, so much so, in fact, that they rest contented knowing these introductory pieces only, and do not bother anymore in proceeding to the plays themselves, by which of course I mean the plays that adopt Elizabethan English and run on for more than a couple of hours. Nevertheless is it better to have, at least, experienced the bard through these introductions than not at all? Can they really introduce the plays, or does using them as introductions unavoidably end up in conditioning one’s mind with false standards, with something quite unlike the “real” thing though dressed up as something akin to it? Can Shakespeare really be taught to children, or better yet, should he really be taught to children? I will stop here, but Ms. Shimada, you can continue the drift of these questions on your own. Thank you btw for commenting on my post, which, compared to yours, is mere child’s play 🙂

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