A while ago, my boyfriend and I stumbled upon some OMG Shakespeare books and I found them so incredibly cool. This lead to my boyfriend surprising me and buying me all the books that were currently out for the series. As a teacher in high school, I find that these books can be used to bridge the gap between Shakespeare and the modern reader. Shakespeare’s language can be intimidating for students, but once they overcome it they begin to realize that within the Early Modern English lies very modern ideas. When I taught Romeo and Juliet for the first time, my students were fortunate enough to have access to a dual book, allowing them to transition between both languages. These books stand out to me because they take Shakespeare a step further into modernity. If you think about it, emojis have created an entirely new language – one that our students are fluent in. Of course I would not teach these books as substitutions for the actual plays, but they are excellent supplemental materials. When reading Romeo and Juliet, I had my students perform character analysis through documenting what would be found in a select character’s phone, and they loved it. I can only imagine how much they would love OMG Shakespeare and I certainly plan on using the series in a future curriculum.
I came across Romeo and/or Juliet recently and I was intrigued right away. Many times students question a character’s decision and ask about alternative choices – but it only ends in speculations because we can only go as far as Shakespeare allows us to. Yet with this book, students (and myself) can take an active role in determining the course of the story. Although I have yet to read this book, I feel like this would be a fun activity for students all while teaching them the importance of character choices and author’s intention.
Some people are thrown off because of books like this because they assume that it distances the reader from the authentic text, but I would argue against it. If anything, texts like this cause a new audience to form – one that may not have existed without such books.