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Time Traveling Shakespeare - A Subject Guide Covering Shakespeare's Transformation From Playwright to Pop Culture

Updated on December 18, 2012

Welcome, thy Amorous Being of Shakespearean Scripture!- An Introduction

This lens is a subject guide, or more descriptively, a subject bibliography. A bibliography, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is a list often with descriptive or critical notes of writings relating to a particular subject, period, or author. A bibliography is a resource tool for anyone wishing to find accurate and appropriate research in a particular subject. A subject bibliography is a bibliography that is dedicated exclusively to reviewing, analyzing, and evaluating resources on a specific topic. The books, audio files, videos and other items described here are all recommendations for my target audience: 8th graders who use the Bucktown-Wicker Park branch of the Chicago Public Library. I titled this lens "Time Traveling Shakespeare" because William Shakespeare's vitality is truly a sort of time-travel feat. From being the prolific author, poet, and playwright in his times, to today's world demanding that he maintain his spot as a current literary fixture while simultaneous being made into a Bobble-head, portrayed in Halloween costumes, knitted into stuffed dolls, and morphed into the lead character of horribly inaccurate Romantic Comedies, Shakespeare has successfully traveled through time and continues to enlighten learners and readers of young and old. Welcome to my guide of Shakespeare for Bucktown-Wicker Park CPL 8th Graders!

The Shakespeare Stealer

Historical Fiction/ Mystery

Blackwood, Gary L. The Shakespeare Stealer. New York: Dutton Children's, 1998. Print.

As a Notable Children's Book in 1999, this historical fiction/ mystery novel takes place in Elizabethan England, with a 14-year old boy who is told to steal one of Shakespeare's scripts for his sinister master. This book, an easy read for middle schoolers, will provide a truthful background and intriguing story to help engage readers into an understanding of Shakespeare's times and plays.

Booklist (June 1, 1998) Grades 5-8

Notable Children's Books 1999

Shakespeare's Secret

Fiction- E Book: Mystery

Broach, Elise. Shakespeare's Secret. New York: Henry Holt and, 2005. Electronic.

This E-Book is an engaging story written by an Elizabethan scholar, with a girl named Hero as the protagonist of this detailed, dynamic story that mimics Shakespeare's techniques of intertwining plots, mistaken identities, and rich language. Shakespeare's Secret was selected because of the various reviews that praise the historical details, the enthralling plot, and the use of real Shakespearean quotes through the girl Hero's search for a diamond that is rumored to be owned by the true author of Shakespeare's plays.

VOYA (August 2005) Grades 6-8

School Library Journal (June 1,2005) Grades 5-up

Booklist (May 1, 2005) Grades 5-9

Shakespeare: The Essential Guide to the Plays

REFERENCE: Non-Fiction Literature

Cousins, A. D., ed. Shakespeare: The Essential Guide to the Plays. New York, NY: Firefly, 2011. Print.

This essential guide really is an essential piece that covers the many themes, language, images, and context of Shakespeare's most popular plays through plot summaries, character lists, settings, quotes, sources, and an appealing layout containing graphs and charts on character relationships and other connections. This is an authoritative source whose editor is a fellow at the Australian Academy of the Humanities and its easy style, illustrations, and various ways for any eighth grader to become engaged in the content.

ARBA 2012

Essential Shakespeare Handbook

REFERENCE: Non-Fiction Literature

Dunton-Downer, Leslie, and Alan Riding. Essential Shakespeare Handbook. New York, NY: DK Pub., 2004. Print.

Not only does this book offer a great introduction for a novice, it also provides in-depth information through essays on Shakespeare's life, times, literature and of course his plays with graphic information comparing the plays, and the proportion of prose to poetry. This handbook is a very broad introduction to new aspects of Shakespeare with a lively presentation, facts, and comparative information that any 8th grader could use in a research project or paper.

ARBA Online 2005

School Library Journal Aug. 2004

Culture and Society in Shakespeare's Day


Evans, Robert C. Culture and Society in Shakespeare's Day. New York: Chelsea House, 2012. Print.

This hardcover book is 128 pages of illustrated content on Shakespeare's times, covering topics about daily life ranging from the country to royalty, providing historical information on crime, the Plague, medicine, and The Spanish Armada, and engaging the older reader with information about period related Folklore, The Gunpowder Plot, and rituals and ceremonies. This book is an educational, yet engaging item that provides an easy-to-understand and comprehensive history about Shakespeare's times, offering explanations of unfamiliar terms, recommended readings for possible research papers, and a bibliography.

Booklist (October 1, 2012) Grades 9-12

Women in the Age of Shakespeare

REFERENCE: Historical Non-Fiction/ Women's Studies

Kemp, Theresa D. Women in the Age of Shakespeare. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood, 2010. Print. The Age of Shakespeare.

An organized and thorough book that delves into Shakespeare's history and the Medieval and Renaissance theories and ideology that influenced Shakespeare when he was creating his famous heroines using primary documents and recent criticisms. As a work devoted solely to the women in Shakespeare, this highly recommended book offers information not usually touched upon in traditional handbooks on Shakespeare or his plays, giving the 8th grade student a new perspective on characters, Shakespeare's times, and his creative mind.

ARBA 2010

Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs

Fiction: Romance

Koertge, Ronald. Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs. Somerville, MA: Candlewick, 2010. Print.

As one of 2011's best books for young adults, this sequel to Shakespeare Bats Cleanup tells the story of Kevin Boland, a modern day baseball-loving Bard, who is torn between his girlfriend Mira and a new friend, Amy, who shares his love of poetry. This book contains scenes of emailing poems back-and-forth between two characters, mimicking the sonnets of Shakespeare, yet tying together modern-day teen troubles with the romanticism of poetry in an engaging and enlightening way.

Booklist (January 1, 2010) Grades 6-9

One of the Best Fiction for Young Adults: 2011 books

The Tempest

Non-fiction: Literature

Krueger, Susan Heidi. The Tempest. New York: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, 2009. Print.

With bright graphics, level-oriented reading, and specific, detailed, content, this illustrated novel of The Tempest maintains liveliness even throughout complexity. Geared a little older than the target group of 8th grade, this book was chosen for the reviews stating how the detailed content, analysis, introductions, and breakdowns of the play are written in an easy-to-understand way for the older youth reader.

Booklist (December 1, 2009) Grades 7-12

Couple with the audio available at:

Caleb and Kate

Fiction: Romance

Martinusen-Coloma, Cindy. Caleb and Kate. N.p.: Thomas Nelson, 2010. Print.

A modern-day retelling of Romeo and Juliet that is geared to older youth readers, deals with Caleb and Kate who fall deeply in love despite their rival families, yet thankfully do not end up with the same fate as the bard's original characters. I chose this novel because it is a love story that has a solid background in one of the world's most romantic love story, playing to the thrill of romance, heartache, and star-crossed lovers that 8th grade girls, and some boys, so love.

Booklist Online (June 15, 2010) Grades 7-10

WIlliam Shakespeare: His Life and Times


McDermott, Kristen, and Ari Berk. William Shakespeare: His Life and Times. [Dorking]: Templar /Candlewick, 2008. Print.

This book is presented as a scrapbook handed down by Shakespeare to his daughter, containing facsimiles of documents, maps, scripts and other items related to Shakespeare. Historically educational yet engaging and interactive, this biography is a great learning tool that will help to keep the attention of students who need more visual and tactile stimulation versus text alone.

School Library Journal - The Book Review (September 1, 2010)

Kissing Shakespeare

Fiction E Book: Romance/ Sci-Fi

Mingle, Pamela. Kissing Shakespeare. New York: Delacorte, 2012. Print.

A 16-year old girl named Miranda travels back in time during her high school production of The Taming of the Shrew and finds herself engaged in a task to stop Shakespeare from doing something that might cause his plays to never have been written after all. In this sci-fi novel that is filled with twists and turns, readers will find themselves rooting for both Miranda's successful 16th century disguise, and the romance that eventually evolves between her and her time-traveling cast-mate.

Booklist (September 15, 2012)

School Library Journal (August 2012)

Cooking With Shakespeare

REFERENCE Non-Fiction: Cooking

Morton, Mark, and Andrew Coppolino. Cooking with Shakespeare. N.p.: Greenwood, 2008. Print. Feasting with Fiction.

Written by Mark Morton, a man with a PhD in English, this book goes beyond just recipes and instead encompasses period ideology, dietetics, law, pharmacology, etiquette, and indexes like "Hard to Find Ingredients", and "Wages and Prices". This 67 page, 189 recipe book is a highly recommended for all ages delicious interactive cultural piece for students interested in delving into Shakespeare and his time period, adding to any class project or at-home continuance of studies.

CHOICE Reviews Online Sept. 2008

Day of Deliverance

Historical Fiction/ Sci-Fi

O'Brien, Johnny. Day of Deliverance. Somerville: Templar, 2010. Print.

This time its time travel for the boys with Jack and Angus (in another sequel to Day of the Assassins) traveling on accident to 16th Century England to make sure that the Spanish Armada still happens and that a changed history won't bring about a changed future. With the boys running into Shakespeare, Marlowe and players who are about to perform for Queen Elizabeth I, this read is an exciting novel that pairs sci-fi with history, providing an accuracy that is aided by maps, prints and portraits,and successfully bringing any 8th grade boy or girl along for the ride.

School Library Journal (March 1, 2011) Grades 6-9

Romeo and Juliet

Fiction: Graphic Novel

Powell, Martin, Eva Cabrera, Jorge Gonzalez, and William Shakespeare. Romeo & Juliet. Mankato, MN: Stone Arch, 2012. Print.

This graphic novel version of the popular star-crossed play is a shorter retelling for younger readers, focusing on an understanding of the plot using thorough explanations. This would be a great book to either be read along-side the play, or as an engaging extra for modern readers who need more stimulation from text, explanations of Shakespeare's language, a history behind the play, and a short biography.

Booklist (December 15, 2011)

Shakespeare: His Work and His World

Non-Fiction: History

Rosen, Michael, and Robert Ingpen. Shakespeare: His Work and His World. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick, 2001. Print.

This vivid and lively book engages students through discussion of medieval to renaissance theater, reconstructed images, compelling narrative and text, a strong introduction on Shakespeare, his life during tumultuous times, his marriage and death, and looks closely at Romeo and Juliet while briefly touching on A Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, King Lear, and The Tempest. An exciting and beautifully illustrated book, Shakespeare: His Work and His World gets raving reviews in books for grades 7-9 and is a breath of fresh air for students who are not easily engaged in a more traditional descriptive biography.

Book Index with Reviews:

Publishers Weekly Dec. 2001

BookList Nov. 2001

School Library Journal Nov. 2001

Shakespeare's Language: A Glossary of Unfamiliar Words in His Plays and Poems

REFERENCE: Literature

Shewmaker, Eugene F. Shakespeare's Language: A Glossary of Unfamiliar Words in His Plays and Poems. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Facts On File, 2008. Print.

As a second edition, this book offers a new introduction to Shakespeare's language and descriptively goes over a few larger passages by reviewing the plays' text and editorial problems, dictation, spelling, and over 17,000 words total. Including more than just currently unused words, this book also has place names and a detailed lexicography that would he helpful to students doing research for a project or who are reading a play and are unsure about certain words and wish to clarify their understanding.

ARBA 2009

William's Midsummer Dreams

Historical Fiction

Snyder, Zilpha Keatley. William's Midsummer Dreams. New York: Atheneum for Young Readers, 2011. Print.

William S. is the main character in this middle-school-aged sequel, and his trials and tribulations of a difficult youth and playing Puck in a summer theater program are the theme. I chose this book because it provides some of the more cruel realities of youth, like being an orphan in an unloving family, yet also ties into it some mystery, history, and actual literature of Shakespeare's plays.

Booklist Online (November 28, 2011) Grades 5-8

The Characters of Shakespeare- DVD

Nonfiction- Literature

The Characters of Shakespeare. Schlessinger, 2009. DVD.

This DVD is a great way to introduce reluctant readers to a background of Shakespeare's characters and techniques. After watching the online clip, I am satisfied with the reviews which state that this is a stimulating DVD that is easy to understand, engaging, and a great companion to the reading of Shakespeare's works.

Booklist (November 15, 2009) Grades 7-12

Great Historical Shakespeare Recordings- Audiofile/ Digital Download


Bernhardt, Sarah, John Barrymore, and Sybil Thorndike, perfs. Great Historical Shakespeare Readings and A Miscellany. Naxos Audio, 2000. MP3.

Naxos offers an amazing array of monologues performed by some of the world's and time's best Shakespearen actors all on a nice audiofile. Performances from John Barrymore, Sarah Bernhardt, Laurence Olivier and more are extremely engaging, helping any teacher in the classoom to provide students with the ability to not only read the text of Shakespeare's plays, but to hear them as they were meant to be heard; played.

Library Journal (October 1, 2010)

Interactive Map of 16th Century England

"England, the 16th Century." PBS. PBS, n.d. Web. 15 Oct. 2012. />.

This is an interactive map on the website, just one of many links devoted to their 'In Search of Shakespeare' project. I chose to include this website even thought it was not found using a professional review site because of the well-known authority and accuracy of PBS, which doubles when coupled in a partnership with the Folger Shakespeare Library, as the In Search of Shakespeare project is.

Professional Resources Bibliography

ARBA Online


Book Index With Reviews

CHOICE Reviews Online

Middle and Junior High Core Collection (H. W. Wilson)

NoveList Plus

School Library Journal

Library Journal


Reflection Paper

My Plan, Process, and Problems

The most important thing to me when beginning this subject guide was that I actually held an interest in the subject. The second most important thing was that I was able to find an array of exciting, well-rounded, yet still informative materials. My original plan was to choose an academic or research library, however, upon researching materials I realized that there would not be enough of the formats available that I was so hoping to find. So I thought back to some of the best and most exciting topics/people I have studied over the years, and by far, Shakespeare won. To best fulfill my wish of finding multiple formats that disseminated information in more than the traditional essay format, I chose to make my guide for the younger student, anticipating finding historical fiction, cookbooks, costume books, engaging historical materials, and unique online pieces.

I was more than pleased with my result. When I first began my research I started with searching Booklist Online, VOYA, and School Library Journal. I chose only the best books and the ones that held an interest to me. But then I was stuck. How was I to find the reference books? What would count as reference for an 8th grade Shakespeare class? And what other professional review sources are there as we had yet to go over them in class yet. Attending the final weekend course really gave me the confidence I needed to find the best books possible, and my online guide shot up from the 12 sources I had originally to over 25. And I hadn't even searched for books contained in my particular library branch yet.

Finally, having used ARBA Online, I found materials that counted as resources, and using the Bucktown-Wicker Park library's branch page online I saw that one of my chosen books was already being held there. I was originally planning on posting many books that were held at the library, however, as it is a small branch and as I didn't find any other materials that had been professionally reviewed, I did not feel comfortable adding them to my subject guide. But the best thing about a CPL library branch is that any book from the main library can be transferred there, and students can simply search for a book using the online catalog and can have more of the Shakespeare options at their fingertips.

I chose to use to Squidoo, honestly, because of the silly name. It caught my attention and if it caught mine I knew it would also catch the reader's attention. In-putting the material was the hard part, and it was not the easiest of platforms to use, but I loved the quirky design and the fun vibe that I would not have been able to attain using a blog, Google websites or Weebly, was attained. I chose to focus on using only two sentences to describe each resource so that there was a solid format throughout the site and while the first sentence described my material to the best of my abilities, the second sentence iterated why I felt that this was an appropriate item to be in the subject guide. Beside using the internet, there are no other special technological competencies required to use the format, and I felt that the online availability was a perfect option so that parents could also browse the resource guide with their 8th graders. Once I had chosen the best possible resources, I finally published the site and I am happy to say that there have been about ten visitors so far. I am also happy to say that I plan on continually searching for and updating this guide, because while it was a lengthy and time-consuming process, it was rather quite fun and informative on my part. I believe I have a strong core collection here for 8th graders, from fact to fiction, and I know that this reference experience will be valuable to my future as a librarian.


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