The Random House Book of Shakespeare Stories - Andrew Matthews;Angela Barrett
To read, or not to read? That is the question. To read adaptations of Shakespeare's stories to the little ones, that is. Some people seem to think it is the equivalent of taking a dump on the Mona Lisa. If you begin with the premise that the stories themselves are sacred, then I suppose they have a point. Considering that Shakespeare himself drew heavily from other sources, I don't really see the issue. Good stories are good stories. Most young children simply aren't ready for the full Shakespearean experience, but they are ready for a good story. These stories are universally appealing and it doesn't seem entirely fair to leave the kiddos out of the fun.

In truth I don't have a basis for comparison, but I found this to be a remarkably good collection. I think the choices were wise (Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, Hamlet, Antony and Cleopatra, Henry V, and The Tempest). The stories are told in an enjoyable and engaging way. The author wisely doesn't even attempt to mimic Shakespearean prose, but a direct quote from the selected play is included at the beginning and end of each story. The illustrations by Angela Barrett are lovely. What's not to like?

Other collections to consider:

[b: Tales from Shakespeare|32509|Tales from Shakespeare (Wordsworth Children's Classics)|Charles Lamb||798808]
[b: Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare for Children|1410104|Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare for Children|E. Nesbit||1400407]

Additionally, [a:Bruce Coville|10087|Bruce Coville|] has written some really nice looking picture book versions illustrated by a variety of artists.