Kids’ Books Set in Italy
Kids’ Books Set in Italy: Read Before You Go
Make the MOST of any trip:
To make the most out of any trip with kids you need to prepare them by letting them become familiar with what they will see and experience. Reading kids’ books set in Italy is the very best way to do just that! Get little minds thinking of all the wonderful things to see on the family’s adventure! Have them use critical thinking skills and discuss questions like: What will be the same as the way we do things at home? What will be different?
Don’t let this happen to you!
Some people go on a trip, come home, look at the photos and think….where was that taken? Which church was that?? Or even worse, spend time on a guided tour thinking, “Another Madonna and child painting?? Another church?” and have no idea what they are seeing or why.
Improve your trip AND your child’s intelligence:
We want children to remember, internalize, and make these experiences part of their core being! When a child learns something they add to their schema, or background knowledge, which will help them in their education until the end of time. Layering the learning by introducing information and then showing it to them on a vacation is the best way to internalize information. Use travel to get smarter and improve skills for the kids in the family!
A GREAT way to get the wheels turning and introduce information about your adventure destination AND improve your child’s intelligence and academic educational success is reading. Stories with familiar characters or beloved animals will pave the way for learning – really learning about the new culture they are going to experience. Read kids’ books set in Italy or listen with an audio book. Check out my lists for other destinations, too, like London or New York City.
Need more proof that reading is valuable? A study published in the Economic Journal, shows that ‘boys with easy access to books tend to have higher incomes when they become adults than their counterparts who grow up with few or no books by their side’ and “Men who grew up in households filled with books earn 21 percent more..”. So, read before your trip! It will be fun AND will make your kiddo smarter and wealthier in the long run.
Read at bedtime and have sweet dreams about your upcoming trip! Or download to an IPAD or Kindle and read on the loooooooooooong flight over. These are perfect for any storytime before, during, and after a trip, too.
You can get ideas on which books to read from the school librarian or research topics online. Choose based on your family’s interest? Big into gladiators? Art? Architecture? Sculpture? Food? There are many, many to choose from but don’t despair. I have spent hours reading books, reading about authors, reading reviews, reading summaries, and researching topics you need to read about so YOU DON’T HAVE TO! This comprehensive list will get you started daydreaming about your trip.
Books to read before you visit Italy
Kids books set in Italy: Read about pasta!
More Spaghetti, I Say by Rita Golden Gelman This simple, rhyming book is great fun for the younger set to read. With the flavor of Dr. Seuss, you’ll enjoy reading this over and over again while thinking of the pasta you’ll eat in Italy on your family adventure. Written for Preschool – 3rd grade. Lexile Measure: 10L Length: 32 pages
The Pasta Family by Marguerite Ciccolini Pasta literally comes to life in this story as the characters are all pasta types. I love the clever names like for dad: Riga Tony. In this pasta lovers book, Annaleenie, whose name was inspired by the Anolini pasta, is feeling un-noticed but later learns that there is plenty of love to spread around in this large family! Written for elementary school aged kiddos. Lexile Measure: Not available. Length 46 pages
Strega Nona by Tomie dePaola Strega Nona is a sweet grandmotherly witch who entrusts her magical pasta pot to her sweet, but bumbling helper, Big Anthony. While she is out, he turns on the magic pasta pot and then can’t turn it off. Pasta spills out of the pot, then out of the house and into the town. Silly and sweet. If you fall in love with Strega Nona, we sure did, be sure to look up the other books she is in! Written for ages 3-8 years but easily will be enjoyed by kids up to 12. Lexile Measure AD88OL Length: 40 pages
Pino and the Signora’s Pasta by Janet Pedersen It is well known that cats are finicky and Pino is no exception. Even though he and fellow stray cats are fed every night by Signora Pasta he longs for something new and different to eat. He finds different food, but he realizes that what he gets from the lovely Signora isn’t just pasta, but love. Excellent choice to read before discussing the many well loved start cats in Rome. Written for ages 4-8 years old Lexile Measure: Not Available Length: 32 pages
Noodle Man: The Pasta Superhero by April Pulley Sayre The cleverly named Al Dente has a real love for pasta that causes him to run into trouble as he tries to find work. Automotive repair isn’t his thing as they don’t love the pasta he puts in the motor. Finally he uses pasta to save the day when he uses pasta to tie up some crooks which saves his family business. Written for ages 4-8 but easily enjoyed up to age 10+ Lexile Measure: 310L Length: 40 pages
From Wheat to Pasta by Robert Egan This interesting book full of easy to understand text and pretty pictures that give an understanding of how that bowl of spaghetti was made! Perfect before heading off to try pasta in Italy this book will be enjoyed as an informative ‘cliff notes’ for your traveling pasta eaters. Written for elementary school aged kids 7 and up. Lexile Measure: Not Available Length: 32 pages
Kids’ books set in Italy: Read about Pizza!
Lost in Rome by Cindy Callaghan Lucia ‘Lucy’ Rossi has a great opportunity to spend the summer working with her aunt at the family pizza place in Rome. Sadly the pizza place has lost customers due to a new place. Lucy puts her thinking cap on and comes up with a great solution – using the age old Italian matchmaking skills and putting them to use in the pizza parlor. Clever girl and fun book. If you fall in love with Lucy, the main character you’ll enjoy the other books where she gets lost in Paris and London, too. Written for the tween/teen ages 9-13 but even younger would enjoy if it were read aloud. Lexile Measure 550. Length: 208 pages
The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza by Philemon Sturges The Little Red Hen is back and so are her less than helpful friends, but this time she is making pizza! This book has a twist so kids will enjoy for sure! Written for 3-7 year old kiddo, but I think it would be enjoyed up to age 9. Lexile Measure: AD320L Length: 32 pages
The Princess and the Pizza by Mary Jane and Herm Auch I love stories that are a twist on an old fairy tale and if you do, too, this book will thrill you. Princess Paulina wants to marry the prince but she must compete with other princesses for his hand. The competition involves some clever nods to other fairy tales, like running after a glass slipper and the other princesses are familiar too: one has very, very long hair and one has 7 small companions. Of course the last competition involves pizza. I won’t spoil the ending but you need to share this book. Written for kids 5-8 years, but the older ones will ‘get’ the jokes better so use this all the way up to your 12/13 year old kids. Lexile Measure: AD540L Length: 32 pages
Tony and the Pizza Champions by Tony Gemignani Based on a true story, believe it or not, Tony is the 8 time world pizza tossing champion (Yes, that is a real thing.) and this story is written by Tony, the champ himself. Really cool peak into the whole pizza tossing concept with a step by step how to! Read this book and then give pizza tossing a try yourself. Talk about a fun way to prepare for a trip to Italy!! Written for elementary school aged kids 5 and up, but even older kids will be interesting in this unusual topic. Lexile Measure: Not Available Length: 44 pages
Kids’ Books Set in Italy: Read about the Sights
Italy ABCs: A Book about the People and Places of Italy by Sharon Katz Cooper This book is a great overview of the wonderful things you’ll see in Italy. Lovely photos and facts about each. I love that a few vocabulary words are included like ‘hello’ and “please” as those are always useful on a trip. Written for the elementary school aged kiddo 5-11. Lexile Measure: AD 740L Length: 32 pages.
C is for Ciao by Elissa D. Grodin and Governor Mario M. Cuomo This book is for an older set than you might imagine with lovely art and paragraphs, rather than short sentences, of information about each letter’s Italian sight. Written for 6 and up, I recommend it for 8-12 personally. Lexile measure: 1088 Not Available Length: 40 pages
This is Rome by Miroslav Sasek This award winning book is a great introduction to all the wonderful sights and experiences available to the traveler in Rome. Kids will love the overview and preparation for their upcoming adventure. Also makes a great gift for the Italian traveler of any age. Written for ages 3+ Lexile Measure: Not Available Length: 64 pages
Little Bo in Italy by Julie Andrews Edwards and Emma Walton Hamilton This book about a cat named Bo who travels the world by boat with her sailor friend, Billy, is written by none other than The Sound of Music’s Julie Andrews and her daughter. This little cat has some amazing adventures including a cat fight in the Colosseum in Rome! If you love this character, note that the little cat travels quite a bit and there are books set in London and France as well. Written for 4-8 years old, but can be loved by those much, much older, adults included. Lexile Measure: 870L Length: 112.
Kids’ Books set in Italy: Read these Pop-Up books!
Magnificent Milan by Dario Cestaro This amazing pop up book will have everyone oohing and aahing over what they will see in Milan. What a fantastic book which includes pop up pages on all the major sights in Milan like the Duomo, Castello Sforzesco (home to the other La Pieta by Michelangelo, the Teatro alls Scala and more! Perfect for the library of travelers who have been to Milan or want to one day! Written for ages 10 and up, as young as 8 can enjoy and be careful enough with the delicate pages. Lexile Measure: Not Available Length: 12 pages.
Kids’ Books Set in Italy: Read about what Italy Gave to the World
Look What Came From Italy by Miles Harvey This book will be very interesting to your young travelers as they read the differences between what they think come from Italy, like pasta (not from Italy but from China) and what they didn’t think came from Italy (like pretzels). What fun! Written for grades 2-5. Lexile Measure: 840L. Length: 32 pages
Kids’ Books Set in Italy: Read Fiction
Getting the Boot (Students Across the Seven Seas) by Peggy Guthart Strauss This is a novel for teens about 17 year old Kelly who is spending the summer in Rome. It is full of angst about boring roommates and cute boys and learning to balance fun with the hard work necessary to make the most of her summer experience. If you love this character you’ll love the rest of the series. Written for 13+ Lexile Measure: Not Available. Length: 224 pages
Danger in Ancient Rome (Ranger in Time #2) by Kate Messner This wonderful chapter book for the kids aged 7-10 years is all about the adventures of a brave golden retriever. Ranger is a search and rescue dog that travels through time to save the day! If you love Ranger, you’ll love the series…Ranger really gets around. Written for traveling dog lovers ages 7-10. Lexile Measure: 610 Length: 160 pages.
Kids’ Books Set in Italy: Read about Ancient Rome
Gladiators are a favorite with little boys, but be sure to tell the kids that there were girl gladiators, too!
G is for Gladiator: An Ancient Rome Alphabet by Debbie Shoulders This ABC book is a great way to introduce ancient Rome to kids. Topics, suited for the middle aged elementary school child 8-10, include public baths, military legions and their rules, political customs and gladiators. Written for 7-9 years old NOT for younger kids. Lexile Measure: Not Available. Length: 40 pages
You Wouldn’t Want to be a Roman Gladiator by John Malam Leaving nothing to the imagination, this book tells how hard it was to be a gladiator. Kids will LOVE all the details of armor, training, and gladiator life. This is especially appealing to boys and perfect for daydreaming before seeing the colosseum! Written for 8-11 years, but I think boys up to 13 would really enjoy and everyone in your group will appreciate the tough life of a gladiator. Lexile Measure: 820 Length: 32 pages
DK Eyewitness Books: Ancient Rome by Simon James No matter the subject, DK Eyewitness books have the best photos. Your gladiator fan will enjoy the crisp images on gladiators and gladiator life all the while daydreaming of what it would be like to see a show..to be in a show! Perfect for understanding the going on at one of the wonders of the world – the Roman colosseum. This fantastic book includes information on all parts of Ancient Roman life – celebrations and daily life. Enjoy this peak back in time. Written for ages 8-12 but I disagree completely on that age range – anyone 5 and up will enjoy the photos and be able to get something valuable from this wonderful book. Don’t go to Rome without reading it! Lexile Measure: Not Available Length: 72 pages
How to Live Like a Roman Gladiator by Anita Ganeri Follow the adventures of Felix who is captured and forced to become a gladiator. Perfect for reluctant readers!! Written for 8-12 year olds – boys of this age will LOVE. Lexile Measure 880. Length 32 pages.
If I were a Kid in Ancient Rome by Cobblestone Publishing Cool information on what life was like for kiddos back in the day. Schools? Only for the wealthy. Baths? Only in public ones. Written for ages 7-10 but I think best for younger than that – more like 5-7. Lexile Measure: Not Available. Length: 32 pages.
Kids’ Books Set in Italy: Read about the Vatican
The Young Alchemists and the Vatican’s Legion of Evil by Norma Pastor Teen friends from a prestigious private school in NY join a secret organization called the Alchemists. When they find an ancient book in a secret chamber of a monastery in the Vatican and realize the world’s population is in danger they begin an adventure to literally save the world. What’s not to love? Mystery, aliens, teens ready to save the world. Excellent vocabulary though written with the shorter sentence style reserved for a younger readers. Written for the tween set. Lexile measure: Not Available. Length: 472 pages.
Adventures in Vatican City by Natalie Tanner Vatican City, a tiny little country completely surrounded by Italy, has the world’s largest pharmacy, a helipad, a train station and lots of other cool stuff packed into a very small spot! Learn more about this tiny, but amazing country with this book that is full of information, history, and fun activities, this guide can be used to promote interest in a trip, learn during a trip or fondly remember a trip. Click, download, and print right now!
Jorge from Argentina: The Story of Pope Francis for Children by Marilyn Monge The lovely and simple story tells of Jorge’s life from birth to his becoming the pope. Lovely introduction to children to understand the man who lives in the Vatican. Written for ages 7-10, but wonderful for anyone interested in a little bit of background on the current pope. Lexile Measure: Not Available Length: 58 pages.
Lost in Peter’s Tomb by Dianne Ahern The idea behind this book is brilliant. Riley and Dilaney are prepared to be bored to death having to spend the summer with their Aunt in Rome, who is a nun. But, once they arrive, they realize that their aunt is not just any nun, but a special agent and private investigator – that’s right, Sister Philomena is a Secret Agent Nun!! Lots of information about the Vatican and St. Peter’s tomb is sprinkled in during the quest to find St. Peter’s missing bones. ****HOWEVER**** I had a very hard time finishing this book. In my opinion it is quite slow. So, while written for tweens I would only recommend it for younger kids – more in the 8-10 range. Lexile Measure: Not Availble Length: 112 pages
Kid’s Books Set in Italy: Read about Museums!
Adventures in Galleria Borghese by Natalie Tanner Visit the Galleria Borghese in Rome with the kids and enjoy wonderful sculpture! Set in a lovely park you’ll want to spend time in along with riding the little train, this museum has spectacular sculpture. Spend time gazing at the fantastic pieces from while your kids read the stories of mythology that inspired the artists like Caravaggio, Raphael, and Titian. This museum is not to be missed and with this book you can happily take the kids along. Written for the elementary school aged kid. Lexile Measure: Not Available. Length: 17 pages
Kids’ Books Set in Italy: Read about art and artists!
Stone Giant: Michelangelo’s David and How he Came to be by Jane Sutcliffe While Michelangelo famously painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel he loved sculpting more than anything. He believed that the art was hidden inside the stone and as an artist he had to simply release it. This wonderful book shows the journey from stone to one of the most famous pieces of sculpture in the world. Written for ages 6-9 years, it is also a great ‘cliff notes’ bit of information for anyone in your travel group from 6 – 99 years old +. Lexile Measure: Not Available. Length: 32 pages.
Sistine Chapel Coloring book by Eric Gottesman (drawings) and Michelangelo (artist) Detailed reproductions of what you’ll see on the Sistine Chapel ceiling – nudity and all, just FYI. The drawings are fine so this is best suited for colored pencils instead of crayons and a child old enough to have the fine motor skills to appreciate it. Written for kids 8-14 years old and adults who love to color as well. Lexile Measure: Not Available. Length: 32 pages.
If you only get ONE book for your trip to Rome, it needs to be this one!
If your travels take you to Italy you’ll be interested in these related posts!
The benefits of reading don’t end when you head off for vacation! Reading is a great way to relax so snuggle up while you have a long train ride or at night before bedtime. Reading relaxes children when makes it easier for them to go to sleep in a new and unfamiliar place. Don’t lug all the books there! Traveling is the BEST time to use this FREE trial of kindle for ANY device. You can even let the littles listen to the book! Books come alive with professional actors reading them and YOU don’t have to do a thing. 🙂
Make YOUR trips the stuff of dreams and make wonderful memories!
Caio and Happy Travels!
Natalie, The Educational Tourist