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Book review: 'How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare'

Ken Ludwig, author of

Ken Ludwig, author of "How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare" (Crown Trade, $25), helped his kids memorize passages of the famous plays, and says doing so is good for the soul.

As the kids editor, I’ve learned at least one truth: There will never be a shortage of parenting books. According to the quality of some of the titles that cross my desk, this can be a bad thing. And it can also be a great thing, especially when a book like “How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare” (Crown Trade, $25) shows up in the mail.

The forthcoming book is by playwright and director Ken Ludwig, whose shows include “Lend Me a Tenor” and “Crazy for You” and whose work has been commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company. He is a self-described Shakespeare fanatic who has turned his children, Olivia and Jack, into fanatics, too, by helping them memorize entire passages of his plays.

His idea is that learning Shakespeare — even one line — is good for the soul. “As for memorization, I’m convinced that it unlocks the whole world of Shakespeare in a unique way … You have to work slowly, and you have to understand every word of what you’re memorizing,” he writes.

For Ludwig, the benefits are many. It can help children learn how to form their own opinions, make them understand that feelings of hopelessness are not unusual, expose them to literature and bring enjoyment to their lives.

And, for him, working on memorizing passages with his kids one hour every Saturday and Sunday, provided him with “hundreds of hours of one-on-one time together that we never would have shared otherwise.”

When it comes to families, I can’t think of better things to do tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

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