Charlotte Mason believed that Shakespeare’s plays help instruct a student’s conscience and reinforce in story form the difference between right and wrong. William Shakespeare was a master of the English language and his writing provides powerful, beautiful thoughts for your student to mull over and enjoy.

Our three-step process makes Shakespeare approachable and simple.

Step 1: Read the Story

Read aloud a narrative version of the play, such as the wonderful retellings by E. Nesbit or Charles and Mary Lamb. A story form presentation will help your students get familiar with the plot and the characters, just as they do with other living books that you read to them.

Step 2: Hear the Script

Now that your students have the story framework in mind, go to Shakespeare’s words. Walk through the script in short sections. You can assign different people to read characters’ lines, or listen to a dramatized recording of the section and follow along in the script. The Arkangel dramatizations (available through Audible) are excellent and highly recommended.

Step 3: Watch the Play

Once you have read the story form of the play and gone over the script of the play, watch a performance of that play—whether live or recorded.

The plays listed below are the plays we recommend and the youngest grade levels for which we recommend them. Our Shakespeare in Three Steps books give you everything you need to follow the enjoyable three-step process, guiding you through a Shakespeare play step-by-step.

Grades 2–12

  • A Midsummer Night’s Dream—Humorous play about several couples, magic spells, fairies, and a bumbling troupe of would-be actors.
  • The Comedy of Errors—Humorous play about the confusing adventures of identical twins and how they eventually save their father’s life.
  • As You Like It—Humorous play about two girls, one posing as a shepherd boy, who find a banished father and loving husbands in the forest.
  • Twelfth Night—Humorous play about a girl, posing as page to a duke, who finds her identical twin brother and wins her true love amid a series of confusing events.

Grades 6–12

  • Romeo and Juliet—The classic play of forbidden love and its tragic end. Young people from rivaling families pledge love to each other and choose rather to die together than to betray that love. (Parental Advisory: We include this play because it is one of the most well-known of Shakespeare’s works; however, keep in mind that it is a tragedy about teenage passion. It does contain some beautiful passages, but it also includes some “locker-room talk” that you would be wise to approach with caution.)
  • The Taming of the Shrew—Humorous play of how a belligerent woman becomes a submissive wife.

Grades 9–12

  • Hamlet—Tragedy of the prince of Denmark who is doomed by his father’s murder to plot a bloody revenge.
  • Julius Caesar—Tragedy about the death of Julius Caesar on the Ides of March.
  • Macbeth—Tragedy of an ambitious nobleman who is driven by an evil wife to murder his king.