The ‘What on Earth?’ Wall Book of Shakespeare by Dr Nick Walton and Christopher Lloyd

Published by What On Earth Publishing Ltd (ISBN: 978-0956593672)

Using the ‘What on Earth?’ format, this book offers an introduction to Shakespeare and his plays in a unique way. The book folds out into a long rectangular spread which has a cartoon about each play showing a synopsis, quotes and the expressions which have made their way into everyday usage. Along the foot of this side is a timeline from 1590- 1613. The other side has information presented as newspaper articles dating from Shakespeare’s death in 1616 to the launch of Shakespeare Week in 2013.

Children LOVE the ‘What on Earth?’ format and this is a book that I have used in class frequently. Children who claim to have no interest in Shakespeare are drawn in and can’t help but ask questions about what they see and read. It is an excellent starting point for further work!  One thing I really like about using it in class in how many children can be involved at one time, leading to lots of smaller discussions that can be fed back to everyone. 

This book is a valuable resource for history – life in Elizabethan (early Stuart!) times, history of the theatre, costume, buildings, etc. - and literacy- the plays, language, etymology etc. However, although the subject matter here is mainly history/ literacy, children can learn a lot about presenting information in different formats, evaluating its success and then applying this in contexts across the curriculum. 

On the website, there is a teachers’ resource sheet called Shakespeare – Dressing the Stage.

Although it is not a book on our list, I cannot resist recommending David and Ben Crystal’s fantastic book, ’The Oxford Illustrated Shakespeare Dictionary’ and the website. Absolutely fascinating!