Shakespeare in Bits: Romeo & Juliet iPad Edition

App review by
Erin Bell, Common Sense Media
Shakespeare in Bits: Romeo & Juliet iPad Edition App Poster Image
Invaluable study guide brimming with supplemental material.

Parents say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn the language, plot, context, and meaning of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Everything is included in-app with easy access to notes, vocabulary, synopsis, and analysis. Kids can add their own notes to help with essay writing, record questions, or deepen their understanding. Shakespeare in Bits: Romeo & Juliet iPad Edition makes a great supplement for kids studying Romeo & Juliet in school or just looking to explore Shakespeare on their own.

Ease of Play

Scenes are divided into easy-to-digest sections with about a page of text each and accompanying video. Video and text are side by side so kids can follow along. The app is tabbed and easy to navigate, with clickable words highlighted to stand out.

Violence

Violence is central to the play. Three of the characters are slain by swordplay. Cartoon videos depict the stabbings in silhouette, and characters are shown with blood on their chests and mouths. Both central characters commit suicide by drinking poison.

Sex

The play emphasizes love rather than sex, but there are a few examples of Shakespeare's trademark "bawdy humor" at work. In the opening scene, two servants make sexual puns about taking a maid's virginity (cutting off their "maidenheads").

Language
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Shakespeare in Bits: Romeo & Juliet iPad Edition presents the full text of the play enriched with extra goodies to help facilitate deeper understanding and enjoyment of the material. Kids can click on highlighted words and phrases to get their modern translations and historical context and to understand how certain lines tie into the play's larger themes. There also are scene notes and synopses, character profiles, notable quotes, and a bio of Shakespeare; however, the app's crowning achievements are the cartoon reenactments of every scene that literally bring the play to life, complete with lines that highlight in red as they're being spoken so readers can easily follow along. There is a similar version for the iPhone and iPod Touch called Shakespeare in Bits: Romeo and Juliet that costs $7.99. You also can try each version for free with the Lite versions.

User Reviews

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Adult Written bycordsie November 16, 2010

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What's it about?

The full text of the play is featured side by side with an animated reenactment with professional actors reading the parts. Within the text, vocabulary is highlighted and can be tapped to view a more modern-day wording. Tabs at the top of the text let kids move easily among the text, section notes, a synopsis, and their own notes. A navigation bar at the bottom of the screen shows all options: viewing by scene, examining characters, reading analysis, and reviewing notes.

Is it any good?

SHAKESPEARE IN BITS: ROMEO & JULIET IPAD EDITION, as with the other Shakespeare in Bits apps, is an invaluable study guide for students or anyone looking to immerse themselves in one of Shakespeare's most famous works. As if the annotated version of the play wasn't enough, you can follow along with cartoon videos and hear every line read by professional actors (Kate Beckinsale and Michael Sheen), which enriches the experience considerably. And, unlike some Cliff's Notes-type books, you don't get the impression that the only purpose of this app is to help students write essays. It was truly designed to help people get the most out of a classic piece of literature.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about other tales of star-crossed lovers, from Gnomeo & Juliet to West Side Story.

  • Talk about the characters' choices and how they affect the outcomes of the play. Why do they make the choices they do? What would have happened if the characters had made different choices?

  • Since Shakespeare's plays were really meant to be seen, talk about the differences between reading the play and watching it. Consider going to a live production so kids can experience the play on a stage.

App details

For kids who love reading and learning

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