World History Reading List, 1590s

shakespeare for kids

Books on William Shakespeare, the Globe Theatre, Galileo

What better way to introduce Shakespeare for kids than with a few great books. This section of our Living History Book List is all about the 1590s, and the star of the show in the 1590s is definitely William Shakespeare.

It is hard to pick just one or even two favorites from books on William Shakespeare and the Globe Theatre. There are several great historical fiction titles for the elementary grades, fabulous picture books of Shakespeare’s plays, and some great informational titles!

Of course, the 1590’s also includes the great Galileo. In fact, books on Galileo are actually listed first.

Out of all the books on Galileo, Five Secrets in a Box stands out as a beautifully illustrated, simple tale on Galileo for the kindergarten child. Another favorite picture book for the lower elementary grades is Starry Messenger.

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WORLD HISTORY: 1590’s — Galileo

Five Secrets in a Box by Catherine Brighton. E. P. Dutton, 1987. K
Very simplistic; would require additional explanation of Galileo. Basic concepts of his work are portrayed in the 5 items his daughter finds on his desk.

Galileo by Leonard Fisher.

Galileo: Scientist and Stargazer (What’s Their Story? Series) by Jacqueline Mitton, illus. Gerry Ball. Oxford Univ. Press, 1997. E-UE+
Vibrant color illustrations and short paragraphs. A depth of information.

Galileo and the Universe (Science Discoveries series) by Steve Parker. Harper Collins Pubs., 1992. UE+

Starry Messenger by Peter Sis. Frances Foster Bocks, Farrar.Straus.Giroux, 1996. K-UE
Caldecott Honor. The imaginative illustrations complement the simple text with symbolism waiting to be discovered. Caution to those of faith: The book seems to indicate that the Bible misled people to believe the Earth was the center of the universe.

WORLD HISTORY: 1590’s — William Shakespeare and the Globe

Bard of Avon: The Story of William Shakespeare by Diane Stanley & Peter Vennema. Morrow Junior Boks, 1992. E-UE+
Full-page, color illustrations on every page. Historically thorough, covering his early childhood to his death. Recommended.

I Will Adventure by Elizabeth Janet Gray. E-UE+
A 12-year-old boy on his way to London to be a page stops to see a Shakespearean play. Later he meets the playwrite, who influences him to treat life as an adventure. Period customs, dress, and lifestyle are woven into the tale.

King of Shadows by Susan Cooper. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 1999. *JH+
A member of a boy’s acting troupe at the present-day Globe Theatre is transported back to Shakespeare’s time. Excellently shows the contrast between lifestyles of both eras. Creates a high interest level for Shakespeare and his plays. Note: Read A Midsummer Night’s Dream along with this. *Caution: Profanity used several times equate it with a PG movie rating; otherwise it would be appropriate for UE.

MacBeth For Kids (Shakespeare Can Be Fun series) by Lois Burdett. Firefly Books Ltd., 1996. E-UE+
Story told in rhyme and illustrated with children’s drawings. Younger readers may still need explanation. See also: A Midsummer Night’s Dream For Kids; Romeo and Juliet For Kids; Twelfth Night For Kids; Hamlet For Kids; Much Ado About Nothing for Kids; and The Tempest For Kids.

William Shakespeare’s a Midsummer Night’s Dream by Bruce Coville, ill. Dennis Nolan. Dial Books, 1996. E-UE+
Beautiful illustrations on every page give this book irresistible appeal.

The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood. Dutton Children’s Books, 1998. UE-JH+
An orphan boy is ordered to steal Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” — or else. A story of danger and intrigue set in London and the famous Globe Theatre. (see sequel, Shakespeare’s Scribe)

Shakespeare’s Scribe by Gary Blackwood. Dutton Children’s Books, 1999. UE-JH+
Sequel to The Shakespeare Stealer. Chamberlain’s Men are barred from performing in London due to the plague, so they take the show on the road.

Shakespeare’s Spy by Gary L. Blackwood. Dutton Children’s Books, 2003.
A new edition by the same author as The Shakespeare Stealer and Shakespeare’s Scribe above. Not yet reviewed.

Shakespeare’s Theatre (Inside Story) by Jacqueline Morley, illus. John James. Peter Bedrick Books, 1994. E-UE+
Learn the Globe’s history, watch its construction, and explore every detail of putting on a play!

Shakespeare’s Theatre by C. Walter Hodges.

Tales from Shakespeare (Puffin Classics) by Charles & Mary Lamb. JH+
Shakespeare’s plays are condensed, allowing the reader to gain a general understanding of them all.

The Tempest, retold by Ann Key Beneduce. Philomel Books, 1996. E-UE+
Another beautifully illustrated book that tells a Shakespearean story for all ages. Also, consider reading Miracle: The True Story of the Wreck of the Sea Venture, since it is noted that Shakespeare based the play on this event.

William Shakespeare & the Globe by Aliki. HarperCollins, 1999. E-UE+
This book does not end at his death, but also covers the rebuilding of the Globe in the late 1900’s. His original expressions and a chronology of his works and life events are listed separately in the back.

Will’s Quill: or, How a Goose Saved Shakespeare by Don Freeman. Viking Press, 1975, 2004. K-E
Charming story & illustrations introduces Shakespeare to the younger child.

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