Want to learn about Italy with your kids without a family vacation to the Mediterranean? Why not open a good book instead and start exploring Italy that way?
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Between my son studying the Renaissance for history this year and my daughter’s book-based curriculum, Italy continues to pop up in our homeschool. In true homeschool fashion, we’ve been reading and learning all we can through books.
Exploring Italy through Children’s Books
Some of these books we’ve used are picture books meant for younger children, some are historical fiction for big kids, and some are great non-fiction choices. Here’s a look at the books we’ve come across in our time exploring Italy:
1. This is Rome
An updated version from the classic This is … series, This is Rome starts at Rome’s beginnings and takes readers to Rome today. It’s a great book for a fun, yet informative tour of the city that kids will love.
Also worth noting, the illustrations alone make this book one to read if you’re exploring Italy with your kiddos. There’s some stunning artwork on these pages!
2. Papa Piccolo
We first read Papa Piccolo with our Five in a Row curriculum and loved its sweet story and beautiful illustrations. It’s fantastic for giving readers a glimpse into life on the canals of Venice, but also has great information about Venetian life in general.
3. Living in Italy
Living in Italy is one of the few good children’s books I’ve discovered that focuses on Italy as a country rather than zeroing in on a specific city or time period.
Sure, history and specific cities are included, but they work together with other elements to give a more complete picture of life in Italy.
4. The Clown of God
Five in a Row introduced us to Tomie dePaola’s The Clown of God and we’re beyond grateful. Not only does this book present the opportunity to discuss Italy during Renaissance times, it also tells a beautiful story about serving God with our gifts.
Fair warning, you may want to have some Kleenex on hand when you read it. My kids don’t shed a tear reading it, but this one makes me ugly-cry in the best way.
5. Roman Diary
Richard Platt’s Roman Diary: The Journal of Iliona is a great book for exploring the Roman Empire with older kids. More specifically, it’s journal-style reading through the eyes of a young Greek slave during the height of the Roman Empire.
6. Vacation Under the Volcano
Vacation Under the Volcano is one of the many Magic Tree House books we’ve used in hour homeschool to help us explore major events in history. This books transports readers to ancient Pompeii on the very day of the the catastrophic volcano eruption.
While that sounds scary, it’s not. Instead, it’s done in a way that keeps kids excited and engaged in typical Magic Tree House style.
If your kids love exploring Italy with Jack and Annie, don’t miss the matching nonfiction companion. The Ancient Rome and Pompeii Fact Tracker helps readers make the most of the historical fiction aspect of the Vacation Under the Volcano by building on the ancient adventure.
7. Madeline and the Cats of Rome
Want to do some sight-seeing in Rome with some familiar faces? Madeline and the Cats of Rome invites readers to join Miss Clavel and twelve little girls as they take in the sights and scenes of Rome in the springtime… and find some adventure along the way.
8. Explore Ancient Rome!
I love this Explore Ancient Rome book because it does more than present history and facts. It’s different from the rest because it presents the information in comic strip style and includes activities, projects, games, and even jokes, all relating to ancient Rome.
9. Angelina of Italy
We found Angelina of Italy from the Maya’s World series at our library and loved it. I love how it introduces young readers to Italian family life and an often misunderstood landmark for kids: the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
10. Detectives in Togas
Finally, a book for the older kids! Sure, Detectives in Togas is lots of fun, but don’t think that’s all there is to it. Like any good historical fiction, this story helps readers understand and imagine life in ancient Rome in ways a textbook can’t.
It’s entirely possible that your kids will be bummed when they finish Detectives in Togas, but keep in mind that there’s a second book: Mystery of the Roman Ransom.
What are your favorite books for exploring Italy with your kids?
Need a few more book ideas for exploring Italy with your kids? Don’t miss these: