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What if William Shakespeare wrote Star Wars, instead of George Lucas?  Wonder no more… Ian Doescher has answered that question for you with his series, William Shakespeare Star Wars.

When a friend of mine first introduced me to Ian Doescher, and this series, I thought, “eh, this isn’t really relevant to me because I teach the younger grades”.  But then I quickly remembered how interested obsessed my first graders were with Star Wars.  They couldn’t get enough!  We even celebrated with a school wide “May the 4th be with you” celebration.  So, I knew that by the time those kiddos of mine got to the middle grades and upper grades, they would be itching to get their hands on these.

“Return once more to a galaxy far, far away with this sublime retelling of George Lucas’s epic Star Wars in the style of the immortal Bard of Avon. The saga of a wise (Jedi) knight and an evil (Sith) lord, of a beautiful princess held captive and a young hero coming of age, Star Wars abounds with all the valor and villainy of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. ’Tis a tale told by fretful droids, full of faithful Wookiees and fearstome stormtroopers, signifying…pretty much everything.” (Quirk Books, 2014)

I love the implications of this series in the classroom.  I think this is a wonderful tool to use for your students who are either a) not interested in William Shakespeare or b) just can’t seem to grasp verses of iambic pentameter. Not to mention, there is an amazing educator guide that ties in with this series that explains more on how to best use it with your students.

The initial series was launched in 2013-14, with the prequels just being released earlier this year.  I encourage you to at least check out the series for yourself.  I’m not even a Star Wars fan, per say, however, I really enjoyed this series.

Finally, when you do use this with your students, make sure to tweet @iandoescher to let him know.  He’s pretty active on social media and is known to tweet back!

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This is also a perfect time to highlight two of my other Star Wars favorites, for the younger elementary ages, by the cartoonist Jeffrey Brown.  Written in graphic novel style, your students will truly enjoy Jedi Academy, as well as all the books in the series.  Vaders Little Princess is a bedtime favorite around these parts.

OMG Shakespeare

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While we’re on the topic of Shakespeare, perhaps you have seen the OMG Shakespeare series, that includes the two titles you see above, in addition to Srsly Hamlet and A Midsummer Night #nofilter.

“A Shakespeare play told through its characters texting with emojis, posting photos, checking in at locations, and updating their relationship statuses”, this series is perfect for young adults (Penguin Random House, 2015). It is a brilliant way to re-imagine the works of Shakespeare as told through the lens of the 21st century.

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Initially, people were quite upset about this series, saying that it was “disgusting” and a true “defamation of a classic” (Amazon reviews).  Personally, I think the people who reviewed this series in that way are taking it a bit too seriously!  Certainly, I don’t think these books should replace the classics, however, I think they are a great way to get kids excited about Shakespeare!

In the essence of differentiation, these books would be a nice compliment for those students who are truly struggling to grasp the works of Shakespeare.  They could even be used to introduce your middle school students to Shakespeare before they have to dive in and really study him in high school.  OMG Shakespeare may pique their interest enough to go into their high school English class with some schema and confidence.

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I also love the idea of asking your students to use emojis to re-imagine some of their favorite stories and books.  How fun would that be?!  And you’d also be accessing those higher levels of thinking and comprehension by allowing students to use these emojiis in the appropriate way.

See if you can figure out some of these below:

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Answers: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Giving Tree, and Charlotte’s Web [source: Buzzfeed]

Shakespeare can be fun!

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And since I am a first grade teacher at heart, I had to share this last series with you because it is one that I used often in my classroom and my students loved it!  The Shakespeare Can Be Fun series by Lois Burdett is excellent to use with second through fourth grade.  I taught at a magnet school for high achieving students, so it was appropriate for them towards the end of first grade.

I used this series in literature circles with my higher readers.  We also read it in a readers theater context and used it to book talk and study some basic ideas about William Shakespeare as a poet and playwright.  The kid friendly illustrations and easier text made this book ideal for book clubs and lit circles in the classroom.

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While Shakespeare is not typically a topic that I discuss often in the younger grades, I think that there are some really fabulous pieces of literature that will allow you to tie it in to your curriculum and differentiate for your students, no matter what age you teach!

Want more book recommendations like these?  Looking for something to do every other Tuesday at 7 pm CST?  Well come on over to the ITeachTV Network and follow my live Periscope show next Tuesday, November 17th at 7 pm CST!  Or catch the replay here.  Hope to see you soon!

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