Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Manga Shakespeare Series

School recently began, and some English teachers will be assigning selected works by William Shakespeare. Reading “the Bard” can insight fear in teens who already dread reading, but fear not. There is a series of books that tell Shakespeare’s stories, but they are in a manga format. Instead of words, words, words, Shakespeare’s works are accompanied by anime-inspired drawings, which makes the story-telling much easier and enjoyable.

The library currently has copies of As You Like It, Julius Caesar, and Othello from the Manga Shakespeare series. As You Like It is one of Shakespeare’s more famous comedies, which involves love triangles and reversed gender roles. Julius Caesar is Shakespeare’s tragic retelling of the real-life events surround Caesar’s assassination. Othello is another dark drama, which addresses jealousy, love, betrayal, and racism. Shakespeare’s works continued to be used in schools because of their historical context and relevance in modern society.

I am not encouraging teens to not read their assigned Shakespeare text, but rather suggesting they check out these manga-style retellings to further the reading experience. The stories are abridged, which means the story is a reduced length. The creators of these books focus on the key scenes of the plays. If you are having trouble reading Shakespeare, which at times reads like a foreign language although it is English, the combination of the text with visual images might help you easily translate the author’s intentions.

For teachers and parents who may be reading this blog, Manga Shakespeare uses the skills of a Shakespeare scholar and educational editor when developing their books. As well, they are advised by teachers in making the work more accessible to young adults. Manga, graphic novels, and comic books are effective teaching tools, especially with those who are reluctant to read or where English may be a second language. As well, both boys and girls respond well to this format of storytelling.

Available at Moore Memorial Library: As You Like It, Julius Caesar, and Othello

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