Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Shakespeare's Sonnets - a terrific app from Touch Press (ages 14 +)

Today is St. George’s Day, the patron saint of England, and it’s the day we traditionally celebrate Shakespeare’s birthday (see a timeline at Mr. William Shakespeare). I've been looking forward to reading Touch Press's fantastic app The Sonnets by William Shakespeare, and I snapped it up today when I saw it on sale. I want to share this wonderful enhanced, multimedia experience that provides both artistic enjoyment of classic literature and increased academic understanding of complex text.
The Sonnets by William Shakespeare
developed by Touch Press
version 1.0, 2012
available on the iTunes AppStore
Touch Press writes that "The Sonnets by William Shakespeare allows you to enjoy, explore and understand these immortal works of literature as never before." While that seems like hyperbole (as never before?), I am truly amazed at the rich experience that reading this app brings.

This app brings together dramatic performances of Shakespeare's 154 sonnets with the annotated, unabridged text and critical essays. Students can watch professional actors ranging from Patrick Stewart to Kim Cattrall recite the sonnets - an inspiring experience on its own. But you can also switch over to reading the poems while you listen to the professional reading, with lines highlighted as you go. Just watch David Tennant's performance of the famous Sonnet 18: "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"

The actors' readings bring me so much greater appreciation for these poems than simply reading the text by itself. I also love the way that Touch Press brought so many different actors to this project, providing readers with the sense that we all can connect with Shakespeare's works in different ways.

The academic notes and videos also provide many different ways in for readers, reinforcing the idea that there is no one correct interpretation of these poems. Since I was reading more for my own pleasure, I was drawn to the video interviews with different academics and professionals. It was fascinating to hear different opinions on the same topic, giving me insight into the range of debates that still surround these poems. For example, I never realized that we don't exactly know whom the Sonnets are written for or to. Students will also find the line by line annotations helpful.

Throughout, Touch Press marries the text and the narration, the artistic and the academic, the visual and the auditory -- providing a seamless, multi-layered, multi-media reading experience. Overall, this is an app that I will come back to again and again. Get this for students who are auditory learners, but also get this for friends who love listening to poetry or learning about Shakespeare's plays.

For more information, see the Touch Press website: The Sonnets by William Shakespeare. For more reviews, see: School Library Journal, The Guardian newspaper, and The Independent newspaper.

I purchased the review copy for my own home library. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

Review ©2013 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

No comments:

Post a Comment