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Shakespeare for Children


Introducing the Bard to Young Learners

When should students first be exposed to the world famous works of William Shakespeare? Should it be during high school or college years? Isn't it true that Shakespeare is inaccessible for most modern readers and certainly for all children?

No, not at all. The nuances of language may be out of the reach of elementary students, but the stories of Shakespeare's plays are well within their grasp.

Although your ultimate goal is for your children to read and enjoy Shakespeare's original works, don't wait until they can before offering them a taste of these classic works. Child-appropriate chunks of the Bard's works will lay a foundation for reading his original works later. At that time, they can focus their attention on the beautiful turns of phrase and poetic descriptions rather than the complicated plot lines which they already understand.

Tales From Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb

Charles Lamb and his sister Mary together wrote these prose adaptations of Shakespeare's plays intended for young readers. This book is in the public domain and can be found online for free.

Visit Tales from Shakespeare at Main Lesson.

Or for a free PDF download (or many other ebook formats), go to

Homeschool Mate has nicely matched the text of the stories (including the original illustrations) with MP3 files from Librivox so you can follow along as you listen. This site is very convenient if you want the text and the audio in one spot.


Free Shakespeare Texts

Since Shakespeare's works are available so widely, there is no excuse not to have some plays and poetry in your home library. Used book stores, garage sales, and thrift stores always have paperback dramas. You can also find complete texts online for free!

  • Shakespeare Online
    Here you can find original texts of Shakespeare's plays --histories, tragedies, and comedies.
  • The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
    Every known work of the Bard, in one large volume and in a multitude of formats suitable for printing or reading on a Kindle or other ebook reader.
  • Shakespeare in Modern English
    These eight plays are placed alongside a modern translation: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice,and The Tempest. This site is especially helpful for a parent preparing to teach
  • No Fear Shakespeare
    Like the above link, at No Fear Shakespeare the original plays are set alongside a modern translation. But there are eighteen plays (and a selection of sonnets) offered in this format: As You Like It, The Comedy of Errors,Henry IV,Henry V, Hamlet, Ju
  • Gutenberg Shakespeare
    Individual plays in various languages and various formats.

Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare by Edith Nesbit

Edith Nesbit was a prolific children's author of the late 1800s and early 1900s. You may be familiar with her novels Five Children and It or The Railway Children. She also rewrote twenty of Shakespeare's plays to make them accessible to younger readers.

These stories are in the public domain.

Find Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare at Main Lesson.

Or for a free PDF download (or many other ebook formats), go to

Plantagenet Plots: Shakespeare's Stories of the Middle Ages

The histories of Shakespeare are often neglected when it comes to renditions for children. No longer! Kelly Green has written the history of the Plantagenet kings in her novel Plantagenet Plots. This book is not only a great introduction to Shakespeare but also to the history of the Middle Ages, specifically the Hundred Years War and the Wars of the Roses.

What About You?


Free Shakespeare Audio

  • Tales From Shakespeare
    The text of Tales from Shakespeare, written by the Lambs, is recorded here in audio format, available for free download.
    Many of Shakespeare's plays have been recorded by volunteers at These are all available for free download!
  • Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare
    Edith Nesbit's Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare can be downloaded in MP3 format from this website.
  • Speak the Speech
    Another site with free audio files of some of Shakespeare's plays.
  • A Child's Introduction to Shakespeare at Children's Records
    This old vinyl record, narrated by Mary Douglas Dirks, has been converted into mp3s which you can download for free. It includes a few famous scenes from selected Shakespearean plays.

Shakespeare Audio to Buy


Articles about Teaching Shakespeare

My assumption is that if you're landing on this page, you already believe that Shakespeare is worthy of being studied. But if you'd like some well thought reasoning as to exactly why or some ideas about exactly how to do it, read some of the articles below.

Scroll to Continue

Teaching Shakespeare


Here is a reference book for the teacher --how-tos and whys for teaching Shakespeare.

Shakespeare Printables - Notebooking Pages, Minibooks, Timelines, and Copywork


Some of these printables are my own creation; others are links I've discovered online.

Be sure to click over to this Flickr set of Mad House Academy's Shakespeare Study photos. You're sure to be inspired by how she used many of the printables available here. Have Fun- Live Life blog also shows some great Shakespeare lapbook photos.

Shakespeare Coloring Pages

These pages are great for the little learners or for a notebook or lapbook cover.

Kid Friendly Facts about William Shakespeare


For a quiz about Shakespeare, see this link.

  1. Shakespeare was the oldest child in his family. He had seven siblings!
  2. He was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, in the country of England on April 23, 1564.
  3. He married a woman named Anne Hathaway, and together they had three children -- Susanna and twins Hamnet and Judith.
  4. Shakespeare wrote his first play when he was about 25 years old.
  5. Shakespeare wrote 37 plays and 154 sonnets during his career.
  6. Shakespeare actually performed in some of his plays as an actor!
  7. Shakespeare wrote his own epitaph -- the words on his tombstone. In it, he cursed anyone who would dare to move his bones. And it worked! Although it was commonplace to move previously buried bones to make room for new bodies, Shakespeare's bones were never moved!

The Globe Theater

In 1599, once Shakespeare had become an established playwright, he and some others bought the Globe Theater.


For a fantastic, kid-friendly interactive and virtual tour of the Globe, visit The Virtual Globe. Far more than just images, this site will teach your children all about the theater during Elizabethan England.

For a free, printable paper craft model of The Globe, visit Paper Toys.

Your Favorite Plays

Shakespeare -- Master of Coining New Words and Inventing Phrases

Shakespeare was a master of the English language. He coined or made up hundreds of new words that are still used today! For more information and examples, visit this link.

The Notebooking Fairy offers free printable notebooking pages especially for listing Shakespeare's coined words and expressions.

For more of his phrases, visit this link. And for some rowdy fun, try the Shakespeare Insult Generator.

Here is a sampling of words and phrases which Shakespeare introduced to our language:

  • bump
  • luggage
  • zany
  • watchdog
  • dwindle
  • hobnob
  • lapse
  • swagger
  • yelping
  • as dead as a doornail
  • at one fell swoop
  • in a pickle
  • there's method in my madness

Tales from Shakespeare - Picture Book Shakespeare

For a highly visual learner or for the youngest children, these picture books written and illustrated by Marcia Williams are a great choice. They cover a wide sampling of Shakespeare's plays using a combination of comic book style retellings and actual quotes.

The second book in the set is More Tales from Shakespeare.

William Shakespeare & the Globe - An Excellent Picture Book

Shakespeare for Children Guestbook

fcinternetmarketing on July 19, 2013:

Beautiful lens !

anonymous on May 12, 2013:

In 1968 Scholastic published Shake Hands With Shakespeare by Albert Culum in which eight plays were rendered in very straight forward wording and each about an hour long. This was a great for very young readers, reluctant readers and a way to introduce the stories.

Michelllle on March 03, 2013:

I'm passionate about this subject. Another great resource which would complement your list is a series of books by Lois Burdette. "A Midsummer Night's Dream Shakespeare for Kids". Lois Burdette has the other plays written in the same format.

blessedmomto7 on February 26, 2013:

As usual, you have outdone yourself. Thanks for this great resource, we just started Shakespeare today in our homeschool. Blessed.

HomeDecorKnight on September 26, 2012:

wonderful lens, thanks for sharing it.

bskcom on September 05, 2012:

I sometimes wondered how difficult it would be to teach Shakespear to the younger generation. Apparently, you gave me the answer. Thanks for an insightful Lens.

Rose Jones on September 03, 2012:

Wonderful lens. I don't know how it is that I have been at the Squid without knowing you, but I am pleased to make your acquaintance now! You are one of the people at Squidoo that I think I would love to have a cup of tea with - we have so much in common, our love of kids and education that is fun, and love of life. Blessed.

VivianAldana LM on August 28, 2012:

Thoughtful lens...I will be using this lens with my eight year old. Thanks for all the hard work!

funbee lm on July 30, 2012:

great work on helping make Shakespeare accessible to children, I have a lens about history being more accessible to children.

VeseliDan on June 12, 2012:

Thank you for this outstanding piece of work! I love Romeo and Juliet! *blessed*

anonymous on May 22, 2012:

It amazes me when I find a website, such as yours, where I can see the love, time and effort that someone put into trying to share something that they have knowledge of, and obviously are passionate about. Thank you so much for the wonderful information and links you have shared. I am just a homeschooling mom who wished to teach some Shakespeare to her kids. So, I decided to teach it for my class at our co-op. I had very little Shakespeare experience myself, but am for some reason interested in, and would like to learn about Shakespeare. You have given me so much information to work with! Thank you so much. God bless. Carol

Kumar P S on April 29, 2012:

A great introduction to the greatest writer of the world.

JimDickens on April 07, 2012:

Wonderful. I think kids would love most of Mercutio's soliloquy on Mab and her chariot

Stephanie Tietjen from Albuquerque, New Mexico on April 02, 2012:

It was a rough journey for me to come to appreciate Shakespeare. I wish I'd someone like you as a teacher. Thanks for this great page.

AJ from Australia on March 02, 2012:


HOPEHomeSchoolConsulting on February 23, 2012:

Awesome lens.

esvoytko lm on February 20, 2012:

This lens is great. Wish I had greater exposure to Shakespeare as a child!

Shannon from Florida on February 14, 2012:

Fabulous lens! Thank you for sharing! Blessed & liked.

HOPEHomeSchoolConsulting on February 09, 2012:

Thanks for sharing. Lots of great stuff.

SarahHappens on February 05, 2012:

I love all these resources you've pulled together. I wish I had been exposed to Shakespearean themes and stories as a child. I agree that learning about the plays' plots and characters earlier on can give youth and adults a richer experience of the depths of the words, lyrics and stanzas when it comes time to study them in school. Great idea for a lens. Thanks for sharing!

jimmyworldstar on February 04, 2012:

I think some of the language is lost to young students if you simplify Shakespeare too much. At least keep the original text along with a modern translation.

arunadavis on February 03, 2012:

The Bard & The Beautiful! Enjoyed reading and then learning some!

Heather Bradford from Canada on December 20, 2011:

How delightful your lens is! Very extensive and a nice take on what is commonly considered children's literature!

Giovanna from UK on December 05, 2011:

Theatre is my second passion. Ah the Bard - bring it on! Great lens

Johanna Eisler on November 23, 2011:

We had a collection of books when I was young called "Shakespeare for Children." I remember reading simplified versions of the Bard's plays over and over again.

Paki Bazar on November 17, 2011:

i love this blog you are working really good



anonymous on November 04, 2011:

Awesome lens. I remember listening to Shakespeare while i was pregnant to enhance my child's brain. It surely worked as his grades are all above 97%. Shakespeare will always be an inspiration for us all. These books for children are amazing!! What a great idea for parents.

desa999 lm on November 04, 2011:

Nice lens I never forget Sir John Guilgood performing Shakespeare when I was in year 12. Nice lens

Lee Nitus on November 02, 2011:

This is a very impressive lens. I think I will have to let my wife know about your ideas of Shakespeare for children. Hmmm, maybe I can convince her to develop a curriculum for teaching Shakespeare the classroom! Thanks for inspiration.

CruiseReady from East Central Florida on October 08, 2011:

I love the Charles and Mary Lamb boo, and have given a copy to each of our grandchildren when they were babies.

As for when kids should start reading Shakespeare . . . I didn't get exposed to him until the age of 13 - in eighth grade. However, I wished then that someone had started me on his plays sooner.

When my daughter came along, I started reading to her from Shakespeare when she was an infant.

ananimoss2 on October 07, 2011:

It was very entertaining and well written lens! I wish I read this last year when I was homeschooling (kinda...). I will have to come back to this soon. Thank you.

cdevries on September 30, 2011:

What a nice, kid-friendly take on Shakespeare.

Kids can have a great time acting out scenes. But the best kid-acted Shakespeare I've seen was A Midsummer's Night's Dream done Bollywood style, here in Dallas a few years ago. Inspired!

anonymous on September 25, 2011:

Thanks so much for this resource. I am doing Shakespeare with kids ranging in age from 3 to 12 and there is something for all of them in this study.

Laraine Sims from Lake Country, B.C. on September 15, 2011:

I found this little bit of information interesting:

Columnist Sydney J. Harris recently pointed out that William Shakespeare incorporated into his plays more than 1,000 Biblical references. âThus,â he explains, âmany people imagine they are quoting Shakespeare when they are really quoting the Bible.â

I agree with you that children can benefit from learning Shakespeares works and I enjoyed your lens.

Tolovaj Publishing House from Ljubljana on August 18, 2011:

Shakespeare is one of cornerstones of education of civilized man. Great list of resources. Thanks for sharing.

reasonablerobby on August 11, 2011:

I think this is a great idea! I'm just re-reading Hamlet at the moment and my favourite has to be King Lear. Kids can learn so much from these plays at many levels.

Deb Kingsbury from Flagstaff, Arizona on August 10, 2011:

I believe I was first exposed to Shakespeare in seventh ... or maybe it was eighth ... grade, when a teacher had us go around the room and read one of his plays aloud. I'm not sure which it was, since I did the same thing in highschool classes, but I know one of the plays I read aloud in a class was Macbeth. I really enjoyed that, even though I more got the "gist" of the meaning than the exact meaning of every sentence. It wouldn't have been the same trying to read the plays quietly to myself. Anyway, really interesting lens, especially the factoids about Shakespeare, none of which I knew. *Blessed by an angel on the Back to School Road Trip*

drum_stick on August 04, 2011:

nice page :)

NAnand on August 01, 2011:

Nice to see a lense dedicated to the Bard. Brings back memories of childhood. Thank you.

shakespearelovepoems on July 28, 2011:

Nice lens. Really great idea making Shakespeare more accessible to kids

Travel_Zone on July 22, 2011:

great lens.....reminded me of my school days.lovd shake spear specially Julius Caesar..."Ete Tu Brutte then fall Caesar"

YourFirstTime on July 17, 2011:

You have some great ideas here for introducing young children to Shakespeare. Great lens!

bbsoulful2 on June 18, 2011:

This article is terrific! I will definitely come back for more ideas for working with my homeschooler! Thank you.

preschoolpuppets on June 13, 2011:

Great lens, very informative.

glowchick on May 28, 2011:

Great lens!

anonymous on May 22, 2011:

This site is AWESOME! Thank you so much!

moonlitta on May 03, 2011:

To be perfectly honest, I find Shakespeare's comedies the most worthy part of his work and I'm not much into his drama. But kids should definitely develop taste for his work earlier in life so they be prepared to develop an aesthetic feel for poetry. *blessed*

darkk93 on April 30, 2011:

Shakespeare should be taught to children so that they can run their imagination.

RetroMom on April 29, 2011:

Shakespeare is the best. He is a genius. Children should be expose to Shakespeare at a young age. They will appreciate it more.

sushilkin lm on April 25, 2011:

Thanks to be on Squidoo for sharing your knowledge. Please PRAY FOR JAPAN

Miha Gasper from Ljubljana, Slovenia, EU on April 15, 2011:

Shakespear is a must. He is a part of our civilisation, without him we won't be what we are. If you know his plays, you can much better uderstand human nature and you certainly coul better understand yourself.

Philippians468 on April 14, 2011:

i believe that such wonderful classics can be taught to children in a fun and exciting manner! thank you for sharing this delightful lens! cheers

Michey LM on April 02, 2011:

I am in favor to teaching children Classics, and I think the visual effects are the strongest, so going to the theaters with kids is great.

You have a great resource lens here, well deserved purple star



JulieS LM on April 01, 2011:

I really loved reading aloud Shakespeare's stories when my kids were young. I posted a link to your lens on my website, Best Homeschool Buys. The blog post is: Squidoo's Top Homeschool How-to Pages.

Ann Hinds from So Cal on April 01, 2011:

You are probably tired of me by now but this is great and the boy will learn Shakespeare whether he wants to or not. However, these are great resources to make it fun and interesting without making him think he is learning. Angel blessed.

Ayngel Overson from Crestone, Co on April 01, 2011:

My kids attend public school, but we studied Shakespeare long before it was covered in class. Where the other kids groaned and mumbled, my kiddos were excited. They already understood the language and basic message so they were free to have fun with the unit. Shakespeare really is entertaining once you understand what is going on. Even for preteens.

VarietyWriter2 on March 17, 2011:

Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

squidoofreak on February 21, 2011:

nice lenses.... very interesting..

Brookelorren LM on February 19, 2011:

I had never thought about having my daughter read Shakespeare. We did have a chapter about him in history class, but we haven't read any of his stories yet. Excellent lens! Angel blessings for you.

LouisaDembul on February 17, 2011:

Kids can learn about anything if it is presented in a good way, like here. I didn't know Shakespear was the one to introduce all those (to us) common words!

anonymous on February 08, 2011:

Bruce Coville has some beautiful picture book versions of several Shakespeare plays. Thanks for all the resources!

ChrisDay LM on January 21, 2011:

Shakespeare appears to be universally accessible - for a truly amazing experience, see it in the Globe Theatre, on the South Bank of the Thames in London. Our daughter loves Shakespeare.

CruiseReady from East Central Florida on January 13, 2011:

Oh, no! don't wait all the way until high school to expose your children to Shakespeare - that's way, WAY too late! I started reading him to my daughter when she was three - three DAYS old. One scene a day from The Tempest until we finished it. But I did wait until she was almost 5 YEARS old to take her to her first live performance. It was Taming of th Shrew, and she love it! Of course, she already knew the story.

lilgirllapbooker on December 22, 2010:

Great printables! We are currently studying Romeo and Juliet, then in spring we will be studying Macbeth. You can also get some really good cartoon videos of the plays on amazon.

LabKittyDesign on November 28, 2010:

You don't appear to mention any of the recent Shakespeare popularizations. Baz Luhrmann's film was a pretty great modernization of Romeo and Juliette, as was Loncraine's treatment of Richard III. These might be an sneaky in-road to get the uninitiated/intimidated hooked...

MargoPArrowsmith on November 24, 2010:

What a great idea! Nice lense, thumbs up!

Beas on November 05, 2010:

This is a wonderful lens with much interesting content! I wish I had been taught Shakespeare when I was a kid. Will nominate this one for LOTD.

anonymous on October 28, 2010:

I agree that children should be exposed to Shakespeare from the age of eleven or so but I am a great believer in letting them see the real language of Shakespeare and letting them figure it out themselves, after all that's half the fun

Paula Morgan from Sydney Australia on October 26, 2010:

I took my 12 yr old daughter to see McBeth at the Globe Theatre in London this year thinking she would be bored to tears... she loved it and we had standing tickets so we stood for 3 hours! She still loved it and understood the story. There is no way she would have read a play or watched a DVD with as much interest

anonymous on October 22, 2010:

Awesome lens! Great ideas-thanks for creating it!

IscahDesigns on October 14, 2010:

This lens makes me SMILE! Beautiful introduction to the Bard. Thank you for posting it!

RobininColorado on October 12, 2010:

My 13 year old is taking a homeschool enrichment class on Shakespeare. Your resources will help us to better understand her lessons. Thanks, Jimmie!

anonymous on October 09, 2010:

hello i am aya and im 10 years young.

I read all his books and poetry and i think there AMAZING.


Mary Beth Granger from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA on October 05, 2010:

Excellent resources!

VarietyWriter2 on September 30, 2010:

Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

anonymous on September 29, 2010:

I always struggled with Shakespeare in school

anonymous on September 26, 2010:

Hey Jimmie

I didn't even know you had a lens about Shakespeare until I started looking for some resources and it is excellent of course, everything I would need at my fingertips, thanks!

Yourshowman LM on September 22, 2010:

He was a great writer. I read hamlet and i thoroughly enjoyed it

anonymous on September 21, 2010:

excellent resources this is going to really help my daughter.

AlisonMeacham on September 16, 2010:

As always an excellent resource.

anonymous on September 16, 2010:

Yes, yes, yes! I studied Shakespeare in college and all it takes is one gifted teacher that will help you love and understand The Bard. Great lens.

Dee Gallemore on September 15, 2010:

An extremely thorough work . . . a great resource. Well done!

tandemonimom lm on September 14, 2010:

My 15, 13, and 9yos are acting in Much Ado About Nothing this fall, with a homeschool acting troupe. I love introducing kids to Shakespeare!

Jacqueline Marshall from Chicago area on September 13, 2010:

Fantastic lens - great resource and beautifully done.

JoyfulPamela2 from Pennsylvania, USA on September 13, 2010:

People many times refer to Shakespeare without even making the connection to him. It's great for kids to get to know this great literature. Thanks for all the materials to make it easier and more fun, Jimmi! : )

Amy Fricano from WNY on September 12, 2010:

Spectacular. Tremendous. Such wonderful resources. I love the Ol' Bard.

anonymous on September 04, 2010:

Great resources. I was writing my lesson plans for this year and came across this page and thought it might be helpful and interesting to your readers and to add to a resource area.

I found this very helpful since I work in Spelling Games for children, so thanks a lot!

anonymous on May 20, 2010:

I've been looking for inspiration to do some Shakespeare activities with 7 year olds, and I've found plenty here - thank you!

anonymous on May 19, 2010:

Awesome lens Jimmie! ~ I love Shakespeare...


anonymous on May 06, 2010:

Great resources. I was writing my lesson plans for this year and came across this page and thought it might be helpful and interesting to your readers and to add to a resource area.

Hope all is well


Jennifer Sullivan from Chicago, IL on April 26, 2010:

Great job on this lens, you are so comprehensive with resources - I think all children should be exposed to Shakespeare and theatre in general. Blessed by a squidangel.

anonymous on April 17, 2010:

Wow! This lens is incredible! Everything I was looking for on Shakespeare for my elementary age children is right here! I don't always have tome to comment. I made sure to make time for this comment. I have a high schooler for which even free online university Shakeaspeare classes are found. As I searched for my young ones this is the most concrete and thorough list of resources available. It is all laid out for me and ready to use immediately. Thank you so much I appreciate all of your lenses. The more I research for different topics I am teaching the more I end up on your lenses.

anonymous on March 23, 2010:

Hello Jimmie!

Excellent lens! I am super impressed with all of this Shakespeare information you've collected. Thanks for making it readily available for parents and teachers. I am an elementary teacher (with a degree in Theater) who is working very hard to get Shakespeare into the hands of young learners, so I appreciate your help. I would especially appreciate it if you would consider mentioning my website on your lens. Much thanks, again!

Cynthia Arre from Quezon City on February 09, 2010:

The suggestions on how to introduce Shakespeare to a younger audience are fantastic and very doable. I especially love the printables idea because they make great interactive teaching tools. This lens is well-crafted and is a delight to read. *blessed by an angel*

WritingforYourW on January 26, 2010:

Interesting idea for a lens! I like the coloring pages link (you can tell that I'm well connected to my inner child :P).

kimkreate on January 16, 2010:

all of your lenses are so wonderful, but this one is particularly helpful to me, as i didn't know anything about shaekspeare { prior to your lens, that is :) }

thank you so very much!

**and also, i enjoyed the FREE printables, NICE JOB!**

GrowWear on December 31, 2009:

Passing through to bless this worthy lens. Happy new year!

lasertek lm on December 08, 2009:

I was introduced to the Shakespeare stories when I was 10 years old. I enjoyed hearing the stories told by my parents and uncles that I decided to borrow a book from the library. I was a little disappointed upon reading the book because the genre was new to me. Good thing my father helped me decipher the verses.

True that Shakespeare books are also good for the children but it would be nice if the parents are around to help them understand.

Interesting lens! Hope you could visit my lenses as well. Thanks

anonymous on December 06, 2009:

Oh the power of Squidoo Jimmie! Here I am on a sunny UK morning, tearing my hair out with Lizzie, trying to get Part 1 of a school project ready for tomorrow and she does what children have a great habit of doing - she never told me about the model of the Globe Theatre that is also needed. I rush onto the internet to find a template and here I am!

Thank you! Not only do I find a link to a Template but I also find a page on Shakespeare that is a lot easier for Lizzie to read than the sites that we have been looking at. Despite her dyslexia, Lizzie is a good reader but a mass of words on screen make it very difficult for her to read and process the info on a lot of sites, which makes for a very frustrating experience for her.

There's some great info on here and some brilliant links.

Thank you! Thank you! And SquidAngel Blessings for not only a great home schooling lens but also for saving my sanity.

anonymous on November 01, 2009:


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