Including Shakespeare stories in comics and children’s films has proven to be a perfect way to introduce Shakespeare’s stories to children. Two examples of extremely successful cartoon adaptations of Shakespeare are the Shakespeare manga series and Disney’s The Lion King (which is based on Hamlet.) Telling these stories through animation is both a successful and effective way to introduce Shakespeare to a younger audience.
The BBC picked up on the success of cartoon adaptations of Shakespeare and created Shakespeare Animated Tales For Kids. Shakespeare Animated Tales For Kids was created by the Christmas Films Studio in Moscow, and uses a wide variety of animation techniques. In North America, the Shakespeare Animated Tale For Kids series originally aired on HBO and was hosted by Robin Williams.
Episodes are available on YouTube, but you can also purchase a box set of all the half-hour long episodes. (Keep in mind that there is a love scene in Romeo and Juliet, so you may want to skip over that part if watching it with a little one!)
Each episode is a half-hour long, and is intended to introduce Shakespeare’s plays to children and young adults. The objective is to make them familiar with the plot and characters of each play in a simplified, easy to understand format before they study the play in school or go see a full length theatre production. The cartoon medium is friendly, contemporary, and familiar therefore it helps makes Shakespeare’s stories make sense to a younger audience.