Closer Readings Commentary

Experience The Wonder of Will at 400!

We still pay attention to Shakespeare because, no matter how networked our world becomes, he remains one of the ultimate connectors. — Michael Witmore, Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library

Join in The Wonder of Will Live on April 23 to commemorate the joint anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth and death, as the Folger Shakespeare Library hosts an international live streaming event from the historic Paster Reading Room in Washington, D.C.

For this occasion, the Folger has brought together a diverse array of actors, community leaders, artists, and scholars, including “Bro” Adams, the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, to share their connections to Shakespeare through compelling performances and personal stories. 

Watch the broadcast on C-SPAN2 Book TV Sat, April 23, noon1pm EDT. A national call-in show hosted by Book TV's Peter Slen follows the broadcast.

More ways to celebrate

The Folger Library extends this commemoration of Shakespeare throughout 2016 with exhibitions, performances, and special events—on site at the Folger, online, and across the United States in a variety of venues. These events and experiences include educational components that teachers will want to tap into with students. More information about all these 2016 events can be found on The Wonder of Willwebsite. Here are two highlights:

Your Shakespeare Stories

The Folgers offers teachers and students the opportunity to “Share Your Shakespeare Story.”

Follow these steps to record your personal connections to Shakespeare and his work through social media:

  • Record a video

  • Use social networks to share it (#MySHX400)

  • Ask others to share their stories

First Folio on Tour

Don’t miss this once-in-a-lifetime chance to take students to see an original 1623 First Folio—one of the world’s most influential and valuable books, and the original printed source for 18 of Shakespeare’s 38 plays.

In 2016, the National Endowment for the Humanitities is sponsoring this national tour of the Folger’s First Folio! exhibition to all 50 states, as well as Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico. A full list of tour stops and dates is available at First Folio Tour.

  • A special touring production of the Gravedigger’s Tale accompanies the First Folio! exhibition to selected sites. This interactive performance enlists the help of Shakespeare's gravedigger, a minor character in Hamlet, to answer audience “questions” using the text of the play. 

Discover Folger Library online

Many terrific materials to enhance your study of Shakespeare can be found in the Folger Library’s huge array of online resources that run the gamut from original sources to modern interpretations.

Experience the power of performance, the wonder of exhibitions, and the excitement of groundbreaking research. Work with early modern sources and drive students of all ages toward discovery with the Library's Teach and Learn opportunities. Here are several highlights: 

  • Shakespeare Documented is the new online portal for primary sources that documents the life and career of William Shakespeare. Find authoritative materials from institutions in the United States and the United Kingdom, as well as images, descriptions, and transcriptions of more than 500 manuscripts and printed works that contain references and allusions to Shakespeare and his works during his lifetime and shortly after his death.

  • Professional Learning Days are on-the-road daylong teacher workshops that introduce middle and high school teachers to the “Folger approach” to education. These workshops, which occur all around the country, offer teachers hands-on strategies to engage students in active reading, speaking, listening, and writing so that they develop rich literacy and a sense of ownership. They will enhance your ELA-based foundation with elements of performance and scholarship to contribute to your content knowledge and invogorate your classroom techniques for reaching all kinds of students in all kinds of schools. Find out how to connect your students with Shakespeare’s language head on, so that they own the plays and everything in them! For more information, contact Corinne Viglietta (

  • Teaching Modules apply the Folger approach in a close study of Shakespeare's works to uncover dynamic new ways to approach these complex texts. These activities integrate performance activities, primary source documents, textual studies, and strategies for adapting and assessing learning.

  • Shakespeare’s Works provides overviews of every Shakespearean play and poem, offering teachers information and images that are perfect for in-class activities or for self-directed learning.

  • Shakespeare for Kids believes it's never too early to discover Shakespeare! Tap into interesting facts, cool trivia, and fun word games to induct students into Shakespeare's life and work.

Folger Library Director Witmore underlines the relevance of Shakespeare in the 21st century: “Four hundred years in, we still need Shakespeare’s powerful, adaptable, indispensable stories to teach us who we are.”