A Biography of Shakespeare for Children

Biographies written for children should be included in the library of every teacher or parent. This article reviews a good biography for the transitional reader. Teaching points are included.

A Biography for the Transitional Reader

William Shakespeare & The Globe traces the known life and times of William Shakespeare. The text also covers the recent rebuilding of the Globe theatre by Sam Wanamaker. The illustrations add a great deal to the content. It is designed for transitional readers or above.

This is a fascinating and detailed informational book as well as a biography of two men, Shakespeare and Wannamaker. Many students will require scaffolding to understand some of the text; sixpence, Tudor, and other words will be unfamiliar. Similarly, the quotations from Shakespeare’s work will require some decoding

This book is a good example of a biography as well as an informational text that supports the understanding of drama. Students will be able to see that biography, like general fiction, has a beginning, middle and end.

Lesson Plan Ideas for Younger and Transitional Readers

The text is suited to growing explicit understanding. The teacher could ask questions such as, “Where did William Shakespeare grow up?” and “What happened to the original Globe theatre?” Younger readers could participate in shared writing, summarizing basic ideas about the text. Summary statements such as “The London Bridge was a big market.” or “Plays were very popular.” might be jointly created. Personal responses about creativity and motivation could be explored in both developing and transitional classrooms.

Quotations in Elizabethan English pepper the text, offering an excellent opportunity to explain to transitional readers some of the changes that occur in language (spelling, usage, pronunciation) over time.

Introducing Drama to the Elementary Student

Reading this book as part of a unit on drama would help students understand the history of the medium. Students will eventually be exposed to Shakespeare in high school. Introducing them to him in a non-threatening way helps build interest and demystify the subject.

This book provides a way to introduce both biography and drama. It’s focus on a real, historical figure adds to its value. Educators will find many uses for the book by building on topics such as the evolution of language and drama to the study of biographies.

Meeting State Curriculum Standards

Most states will have standards similar to Michigan English Language Arts Standard 8 that encourages the student to explore different types of genres and language. This book provides the opportunity to discuss two genre, biography and drama as well studying the aesthetic elements of a smidgen of Elizabethan English.

Aliki has written a book that is a valuable resource for teachers and parents interested in introducing the elementary child to biography, drama, and the magic of words.


Aliki. William Shakespeare and the Globe. New York: HarperCollins, 1999.

A version of this article was orignally published July 5, 2010 on Suite101 (link).

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