I’ve got a question for you.
I’m going to assume, since you’re reading this, that you like Shakespeare. Maybe you’re a theatre geek in general, or maybe like me you’ve got no particular connection to the theatrical world, you just love Shakespeare’s work. You’ve probably got a bunch of it memorized, too, if by pure repetition if nothing else.
So here’s my question. How many friends have you got that you talk about Shakespeare with? Sure, if you’re in a theatre group in the first place the answer to this question might be obvious. But what about your friends, your family, your coworkers? If your life is anything like mine, most folks you encounter have little more than a passing high school knowledge of the man and his work. Most will never bother to learn any more than that, because they’re adults now and their time for being told what they have to learn is over. There’s bills to be paid and fantasy football teams to draft.
Why can’t we change that?
Why can’t we introduce Shakespeare and his work to children from the time that they’re born? Fine, there’s plenty of stuff in Shakespeare that’s over the head of most college students, let alone toddlers. Dr. Seuss wrote propaganda cartoons during World War II, too. But I’ll bet we can all quote Cat in the Hat.
How great would the world be if everybody you ran into on a daily basis was as familiar with “I know a bank where the wild thyme blows, where ox-lips and the nodding violet grows” as they are with “One fish two fish, red fish blue fish?”
“To be or not to be” and “Wherefore art thou” have tipped over into cliche, but wouldn’t you love to hang out with somebody who not only recognized “Be not afeard, the isle is full of noises,” but could complete it with, “sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not?”
Shakespeare is poetry. Children learn language through rhyme and poetry.
Shakespeare painted pictures with words. Children learn words through association with images.
There’s absolutely no reason why somebody can’t take Shakespeare’s poetry and Shakespeare’s pictures and put them in the hands of new parents to read to their children from day one. You know what happens when that happens? Those kids like it. Those kids ask for it. Those kids want more.
Most importantly, those kids grow up with Miranda and Ariel and Titania and Oberon in their brains right next to Winnie the Pooh and Piglet and the Wild Things and the Lorax and Alice and the Mad Hatter…
Before that little candle can throw its beams, somebody has to light it, and that is precisely what Erin is trying to do.
I know I’ve bugged you all about this already, but her Kickstarter deadline draws near, and she hasn’t hit the goal yet, so she still needs help. Back this project. Get this book into existence. I don’t care if you’ve got kids. Mine aren’t going to read this. But I backed it. Because I want others to be able to read it. Imagine one day going to the store (if they still have bookstores!) and seeing Shakespeare in the baby book section. Even better imagine buying it and giving something you love as a give to someone you love.