My Favorite Resources for Charlotte Mason Homeschooling: Bible and Shakespeare

Charlotte Mason Shakespeare Resources -

Last month, I introduced a series of blog posts that I plan to go through over the next few months, sharing some of my favorite Charlotte Mason homeschool resources broken down by subject. These are the ones we’ve tried and have been so helpful in making our days run more smoothly. They have also engaged my kids in whatever subject we’re covering. In some cases, they’re resources that have been made by other homeschooling moms or are from reputable homeschooling companies, and sometimes they’re just different items that have been helpful to us in a specific subject.

These are by no means the only resources out there, and I will offer others in some subjects that I have heard of but haven’t had the chance to try yet, or I have friends who have used them and appreciate them. But the main list will be the resources we’ve used in our homeschool over the last (almost) six years that have been so helpful to us.

Today I’m sharing resources for Bible and Shakespeare! When I was looking at the list of subjects I wanted to talk about in this series, I decided to join these two together as I sometimes think back on Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and how the protagonist, Francie Nolan (inspired by Smith’s own childhood), reads a page of the Bible and a page of Shakespeare every day from a young age. It reminds me of Ms. Mason’s quote in A Philosophy of Education: “There is no education but self-education.”


The method of such lessons is very simple. Read aloud to the children a few verses covering if possible, an episode. Read reverently, carefully, and with just expression. Then require the children to narrate what they have listened to as nearly as possible in the words of the Bible. It is curious how readily they catch the rhythm of the majestic and simple Bible English. Then, talk the narrative over with them in the light of research and criticism. Let the teaching, moral and spiritual, reach them without much personal application. I know of no better help in the teaching of young children than we get in Canon Paterson Smyth’s Bible for the Young.

Charlotte Mason (Home Education)


J. Paterson-Smyth Commentaries
Bible Atlas

The AmblesideOnline Bible-reading schedule beginning in Year 2 is based on the J. Paterson-Smyth commentaries, so I started ordering them four years ago when my son was still in Year 1. These are not meant to be read to your student verbatim but are instead more of a resource for you as the teacher to give you a little more background about the readings. Generally, I do read the parts where he “sets the scene” to provide a better idea of the setting and any additional information that might be pertinent to the lesson. For instance, when we read about Moses as a boy, I showed my students the picture of the Egyptian “copywork” from the book. And when we read the story of the friends lowering the invalid down through the roof to be healed by Jesus, I built a little model with books as he outlines in the commentary.

Bible lessons are meant to be so simple there is no need to add a whole lot of commentary to them (especially of the “lecture” kind). However, I also think that these books have offered insight into passages that I have read many times before that I may not have otherwise considered. When I don’t read the commentary in advance of a Bible lesson or “set the scene,” I have noticed that my students are a little less engaged with the lesson.

An atlas is helpful to have on hand to see where a particular passage is taking place, especially as some of the locations in the Bible are known by different names. You can show your student how many of these stories overlap and that specific places are particularly sacred.

Charlotte Mason Shakespeare Resources -


We probably read Shakespeare in the first place for his stories, afterwards for his characters, the multitude of delightful persons with whom he makes us so intimate that afterwards, in fiction or in fact, we say, ‘She is another Jessica,’ and ‘That dear girl is a Miranda’; ‘She is a Cordelia to her father,’ and, such a figure in history, ‘a base Iago.’ To become intimate with Shakespeare in this way is a great enrichment of mind and instruction of conscience. Then, by degrees, as we go on reading this world-teacher, lines of insight and beauty take possession of us, and unconsciously mould our judgments of men and things and of the great issues of life.

Charlotte Mason (Ourselves)


Lambs’ Shakespeare (Form 1)
Nesbit’s Shakespeare (Form 1)
Arkangel Records on Audible (these are also available free on YouTube, but the quality isn’t great, and there are often ads thrown in)
Folger Shakespeare Library
Wordsworth Classics Shakespeare


A Programme for Shakespeare

For Form 1 students, I recommend reading either the Lambs’ or Nesbit versions of any of the plays (though the list of plays that were read in Form I in the article linked above is a good place to start). Generally, Nesbit’s versions are shorter than the Lambs versions. If you have the time, I would recommend Lambs first. According to the article above by Nancy Kelly, Lambs’ was specifically mentioned in Parents’ Review articles as an option for Form 1b students. She did not mention Nesbit as being suggested, so use your discretion here. I have read both versions in our home and Lambs’ specifically in our co-op, and have found them both to work well for my students.

Bruce Coville has also made a series of illustrated versions of Shakespeare’s plays, and I did use one of these at the very beginning of Year 1. They are (for the most part) beautifully illustrated, but I find the language from Lambs and Nesbit to be so much better.

For my Form 2 student, this was the first year that he didn’t have the option of participating with the other co-op kids in reading the play, which was a bit of a dilemma as I feel like these are best read with others. With that in mind, in Terms 1 and 2, we read the plays together, alternating the speaking parts, and then I also made a poster with all of the characters on it to make them easier to track.

Beginning in Term 3, per the recommendation of Karen Canon, when I was admittedly uncomfortable with some of the words and phrases my son was reading in his lines, we started to listen to the Arkangel version while following along in our books. This has been an enormous hit as these are high-quality, well-acted recordings with sound effects. I think as long as we are reading Shakespeare at home, we will use these recordings.

I also have two different book series listed above. The first is the Folger Shakespeare Library which was recommended during a talk I attended by Sarah Lancaster at the Charlotte Mason Educational Retreat in 2017. These are very helpful as every other page includes definitions, explanations, and even pictures of some of the more obscure (and even not-so-obscure) references in the play text. I get these for myself, but I do not recommend giving them to your students as many things really do not need to be explained to them, especially if they are younger. For the students, our co-op always used the Wordsworth Classics books that contain little-to-no commentary and just the text of the play, and they have worked well for us.

For keeping track of characters, I have done everything from drawing out the story on a whiteboard as we read through it to a poster with all of the characters written out, as well as printing out character cards. I think of the three, the last one is my favorite, and I have done this inexpensively by doing an image search for costume concept ideas for a given play (e.g., “midsummer night’s dream costume concept drawings”), finding a set that will work well and printing it out. I then cut each character out to make a card, write their name on it if needed, and then laminate the cards. These are nice to have as I can use them with my Form 1 student and then later in the upper forms when we read the actual plays.

So these are the resources we use in our Charlotte Mason homeschool for Bible and Shakespeare! In my next pIn my next post in the series, I’ll be sharing our favorite resources for History and Plutarch! If you’re not signed up for my newsletter, click here to get a notification when the new post is available!

Other posts in this series:

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