Teaching Shakespeare!

A Folger Education Blog

Shakespeare and Young Adult Fiction

Novels can help engage students not only with Shakespeare’s language (as we discussed in Tuesday’s blog post about That Shakespeare Kid) but also with his characters and stories.

With spring break coming up, maybe your students will be interested in a little light reading that also keeps them thinking about the Bard.

Reading the Folger Shakespeare edition of Hamlet. Photo by Chris Hartlove.

Drawing on some suggestions that first appeared in Folger Magazine, here are a few of the books out there:

The Dream of Perpetual Motion

By Dexter Palmer

“Prospero, Miranda, and other characters from Shakespeare’s The Tempest resurface in this darkly imaginative novel set in a steampunk universe. The Dream of Perpetual Motion is the story of islands—both paradises and prisons—and the hero’s dream of redemption through impossible love.”

Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs

By Ron Koertge

“In this charming and clever sequel to Shakespeare Bats Cleanup, fourteen-year-old protagonist Kevin Boland explores baseball and poetry with equal enthusiasm. A novel in verse form, the book reads like the journal entries of a sharp and observant teen—funny, self-reflective, and disarmingly honest.”

The Fool’s Girl

By Celia Rees

“Forced to flee Illyria in disguise with only her fool for company, young Violetta embarks on a dangerous mission to regain her kingdom. This historical tale weaves together plot twists from Twelfth Night with vivid scenes from Shakespeare’s London into an engaging tale of a gutsy heroine’s quest for justice.”

Here are two blog posts from our archives with even more book suggestions:

Extra Credit: Romeo & Juliet

Extra Credit: Hamlet

Tell us: What books do you recommend to your students? What are some of your favorite Shakespeare-inspired novels for teens?


    By Lynne Kositsky

    Students are often excited to learn about the authorship question, and there’s a young adult novel that deals with it.

    From School Library Journal–
    for grades 6-9
    “Set in London, this novel begins with Perin Willoughby taking a summer-school course on Shakespeare. On a field trip to the Globe Theatre, she becomes separated from the rest of the class and is sucked through time during an eclipselike occurrence into the bard’s world…Disguised as a boy playing a girl, the witty and resourceful heroine eventually works her way on stage as Juliet…A serviceable introduction to the topic; an afterword provides background.”

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