In honor of 'Gnomeo & Juliet,' the latest Shakespearean film adaptation to hit theaters, we've come up with a short guide to introducing kids to the Bard's work. We've left off some of the bloodier or mature works altogether (no 'Titus,' 'Tempest,' 'Merchant of Venice,' 'Richard III,' etc.) to narrow down the field to an abridged list of classics and comedies that kids, tweens and teens would be most familiar with or find most accessible. Check out our suggestions and get thee to the video store or Netflix queue to curate your own mini-Shakespeare festival.

'Gnomeo & Juliet' (2011, G)
Common Sense Media Rating:5+
Why See It: It's Shakespeare-meets-Elton John by way of warring English garden gnomes. It sounds a bit mad, but it's a wonderful way to introduce young kids to the themes in Shakespeare's tragic play (less war, more love, down with useless discrimination, etc.). Plus, there's no double suicide to worry about, because this Gnomeo and Juliet get to live happily ever after. clear="all" />
West Side StoryFor Tweens:
'West Side Story'
Common Sense Media Rating: 11+
Why See It: It's one of the best musicals of all time, and it reimagines the Romeo and Juliet tale from Renaissance-era Verona to 1950s New York City, where a boy and a girl from two rival, working-class gangs -- the white Jets and the Puerto Rican Sharks -- meet and fall in forbidden love. The Oscar-winning performances, legendary songs, iconic dance moves (you know you want to snap your fingers!) and irresistible love story make this a great adaptation to watch as a whole family.

'Much Ado About Nothing'(PG-13, 1993)
Why See It: Although Romeo and Juliet have influenced almost all love-at-first-sight couples in popular culture, so have Benedick and Beatrice (played here by then husband and wife Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson), whose love is based not on a swoony "it physically hurts to be away from you" (think 'Twilight's' Edward and Bella), but on a meeting of minds and wit and passionate banter (think 'Harry Potter's' Ron and Hermione). Also starring Denzel Washington, Kate Beckinsale and Robert Sean Leonard (and, sadly, Keanu Reeves), Branagh's adaptation is whip-smart, fun and romantic.

10 Things I Hate About YouFor Teens:
'10 Things I Hate About You'(PG-13, 1999)
Common Sense Media Rating:13+
Why See It: Ah, Heath Ledger before he was famous. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Julia Stiles are in this, too, but it's Ledger who stole the show of this teen retelling of 'The Taming of the Shrew.' Sure, the play itself has been criticized for its misogynistic message, but the movie portrays Kat (Stiles) as a smart, independent high-school senior -- not a "shrew" who needs a guy to be happy. Teens -- especially girls -- will get a kick out of the untraditional romance and strong female protagonist (and, OK, a dreamy Heath Ledger).

'Hamlet'(PG-13 1996)
Common Sense Media Rating:14+
Why See It: Laurence Olivier's version may be the standard, but Kenneth Branagh's is the only unabridged big-screen adaptation (although the setting is moved up to the 19th century). For teenagers, particularly high-schoolers, who take their English literature courses seriously, this comprehensive, 242-minute tribute features an A-list cast led by Branagh as Hamlet and Kate Winslet as Ophelia. For a much shorter (but less-critically acclaimed) version with still-relevant stars, check out Mel Gibson and Glenn Close in Franco Zeffirelli's 'Hamlet' (1990).

'Romeo and Juliet'(PG, 1968)
Common Sense Media Rating:14+
Why See It: Zeffirelli's definitive retelling of the doomed love story is timeless and beautifully acted (Olivia Hussey will forever be Juliet and Mary from 'Jesus of Nazareth' to this moviegoer). It is a classic, and a perfect accompaniment to any eighth or ninth-grade reading of the play. However, parents should know that a big love scene involves some brief (but tasteful) nudity, which caused quite the controversy when shown in my sixth-grade class.

William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet'William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet' (PG-13, 1996)
Common Sense Media Rating:14+
Why See It: Once your teens have seen the traditional (but largely abridged) version, it's time to graduate to Baz Luhrmann's edgy, MTV-ized adaptation, which retained much of Shakespeare's language but updated the setting and added a contemporary soundtrack. It's violent, sexy and really loud, but still a bittersweet pleasure to watch -- particularly because Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes play the star-crossed lovers. It's not for the wee ones, but teens should think it's cool, even 15 years later.
In Theaters on December 25th, 1996

Shakespeare's Danish prince (Kenneth Branagh) avenges his slain father. Read More

Gnomeo and Juliet
Based on 28 critics

Love-struck garden gnomes become caught up in a feud between neighbors. Read More

Romeo & Juliet
In Theaters on October 8th, 1968

Shakespeare's tragic Renaissance lovers (Leonard Whiting, Olivia Hussey). Read More

West Side Story
Not Yet Rated1961
In Theaters on October 18th, 1961

Rival gangs affect a couple's (Natalie Wood, Richard Beymer) love. Read More

September 22, 2016
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William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet
Based on 20 critics

Twentieth-century teenagers (Leonardo DiCaprio, Claire Danes) tragically fall in love. Read More

August 31, 2016
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10 Things I Hate About You
Based on 26 critics

A student can't date till her older sister (Julia Stiles) does. Read More

Much Ado About Nothing
In Theaters on April 15th, 1993

Don Pedro, Claudio and Hero join together to get Benedick and Beatrice to wed. Read More