Shakespeare’s Legacy – Books of the Bard for Young Adults

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Article in Category:Young Adult Fiction and Category:Themes categories.

Shakespeare’s Legacy – Books of the Bard for Young Adults

This list is good for teen readers interested in Shakespearean themes & characters, and also in the theater arts. Created in Fall 2009 for Musings, Crozet Library’s Teen Writing Group.

The Man Himself and His Times

  • Shakespeare: The World as Stage, by Bill Bryson—an engaging biography based just on what we can find out from historical sources.
  • Shakespeare Alive! , by Joseph Papp and Elizabeth Kirkland—Discover the London at the time when Shakespeare’s plays were first being staged. Who was who, how they lived, what it smelled like, and more.

Historical Fiction Set in Shakespeare’s Time

Modern Retellings

Stories involving Shakespearean Characters

  • Ariel, by Grace Tiffany—The story of the dark fairy from The Tempest and her role in the story of the shipwrecked Prospero and his daughter.
  • Enter Three Witches, by Caroline B. Cooney - This tells the story of Macbeth from the point of view of a noblewoman in the Scottish castle, who fights to save lives from the power-mad Macbeths.
  • Ophelia, by Lisa Klein—Ophelia’s viewpoint sheds light on her relationship with Hamlet, as he falls into madness.
  • Shylock’s Daughter, by Mirjam Pressler — Jessica, living in the Jewish ghetto in 16th-century Venice, elopes with Christian Lorenzo, causing problems with her father Shylock, all characters in The Merchant of Venice.
  • Wondrous Strange, by Lesley Livingston—In this dark fantasy, 17-year-old Kelley, an actress playing Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, discovers she is a changeling, and the fairy characters in the play are alive and all around. Try the sequel Darklight.
  • Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev. Beatrice arrived at the Théâtre Illuminata as a baby; and has lived there for all of her 17 years. The Théâtre Illuminata is no ordinary theater, however, and inside its walls live characters from plays, magically brought to life.
  • Lady Macbeth's Daughter by Lisa Klein.
  • Still Star-Crossed by Melinda Taub
  • Juliet Immortal by Stacey Jay

Shakespeare’s Influence on Modern Lives

  • The Blue Avenger Cracks the Code, by Norma Howe—Sixteen-year-old Blue finds himself in Venice, cracking codes for his English teacher, who believes that Edward de Vere was the true author of Shakespeare’s work. Literary detection at its best.
  • Interred with their Bones, by Jennifer Lee Carrell— This literary mystery suitable for older teens follows a theater director on an international journey to uncover a long-lost Shakespeare manuscript.
  • The Juliet Club, by Suzanne Harper—a group of American and Italian teenagers attend a summer Shakespeare program in Verona. They learn theater, history, and love while studying the play Romeo and Juliet. (The Juliet Club is an actual group in Verona, and was also featured in the 2010 movie “Letters to Juliet”.)
  • Romeo and Juliet Together (and Alive!) At Last, by Avi - Two eighth graders who secretly crush on each other are cast opposite each other in the lead roles of Romeo and Juliet.
  • Saving Juliet, by Suzanne Selfors—A teenage actress is transported into the story of Romeo and Juliet. Her actions may set the main characters onto a very different course than we expect—will the star-crossed lovers end up together?
  • Shakespeare’s Secret, by Elise Broach—Hero and her sister Beatrice (named for characters in Much Ado About Nothing) move to a new town, and Hero works to solve the mystery of an Elizabethan diamond hidden in a house next door.
  • King of Shadows by Susan Cooper – Nat is a young actor playing Puck at the Globe Theatre in modern London, when he mysteriously finds himself in the year 1599, and comes to the attention of Shakespeare himself. Many good historical theatrical details.

Want Just a Taste? Just Looking for a Good Quote?

  • Brush up your Shakespeare! by Michael Macrone—Famous phrases, the Bard’s own made-up words, a character index, and lots more Shakespearean tidbits.
  • Shakespeare on Fairies & Magic, compiled by Benjamin Darling. An illustrated collection of poems and quotations featuring the fairies and witches of Shakespeare's plays and sonnets.

Studying Shakespeare?

The library has “parallel text” versions of most of Shakespeare’s plays, which include the original text, side-by-side with the story told in more modern language – very helpful for students struggling with Elizabethan English. These also include discussion material and study activities. Click here to see available titles in parallel text.

Graphic Novel Versions

Illustrated by Gareth Hinds:

Manga Shakespeare series: