Growing up in Argentina, my literary diet consisted of a rich and diverse menu of Spanish, German, American and British authors. Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra and Juan Ramon Jimenez populated my bookshelf with illustrated volumes of Don Quixote and Platero y Yo, respectively. Joanna Spyri cultivated in me an awe for the Swiss Alps in her all inspiring Heidi, while the vivid poems of William Wordsworth competed with the nourishing prose of Louisa May Alcott.
But Shakespeare? We had dabbled on it in school, but I think even the teachers were afraid to approach it. Of course, we learned of his greatness with plays and poetry and language and symbolism–the list goes on. However, we never really did venture to the heart of it.
As I became older, I tried–I really, really did–to incorporate Hamlet, King Lear, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream into my repertoire of read books, to no avail. Invariably, I would shut them close, frustrated at my persistent inability to understand them.
One to never give up, and intent on answering the basic question of why Shakespeare endured and survived across the ages, I came across a gem at my local library. Nestled among books on literary criticism was How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare, by Ken Ludwig. What an idea! What if I pretended to be a kid again and let myself be spoonfed by the author? I took the book home and settled under my mango tree in the backyard.
And thus began a journey from which I will never return. For you are never the same after you come back to planet Earth from an exceptional work of fiction or poetry. And this, my friends, was no exception. Ken Ludwig holds your hand as you both traverse the forest of Shakespeare’s worlds. He explains in detail the function of each tree in that forest–phrases, sentences–and reveals the textures, smells, and sounds particular to each leaf–the words that conform those phrases–delivering a delectable understanding of the master and his masterpieces.
So if you don’t have children, or they’re grown up, teach Shakespeare to your inner child–the one within that once in a while will play peek-a-boo to remind you there’s still time for good literature.