Book Review: Books about Italy, Rome and Italian for children


I wanted to dedicate this week’s Book Review post to all the books that I got for my children to prepare for our trip to Rome, before I get started on the travel posts. I would like to point out that we borrowed some of the books from the library prior to our trip and I purchased the books in the photo to take them along for our trip.

Rome with kids: an insiders guide:

This is a great choice of guide book for parents visiting Rome. The guide is structured in days which correspond to different historical eras of Rome’s history, which is very practical because you don’t have to think about what to do when to do. It sets reasonable itinerary for each day for 4-5 day trip. But itineraries are flexible enough that you can interchange parts as modules.

The author provides lots of tips and tricks for families with children who are young and get exhausted easily. It lists the really important attractions at the beginning of the day. It also urges you to get tickets online in advance where it’s available.

It has fun facts about the places you are visiting to share with your children and activities to keep your children involved and occupied.

We pretty much followed the recommended itinerary for each day, except for the detailed tour of the Imperial Forum and Capitoline Museums. We opted to go to Villa Borghese for the second time instead. We stayed only in Rome. The book, however, also provides information for day trips outside of Rome including Pompeii.

The book has extensive list of restaurant recommendations for lunch and dinner. We used its lists, at least to identify the streets/neighborhoods with good restaurants and were very happy with the selections.

Get this book, in advance of your trip. Read and plan for each day and get your tickets where needed.

Italian for Children (book + 2 audio CDs)

This set, even though is in a big box, includes a 80 page picture book, a smaller workbook and 2 audio CDs. It is very simple and fun for children just getting to know the basics. I downloaded the CDs onto my laptop and my iPhone. The lessons include interactive dialogues that children can follow from the picture book as well as catchy!! songs. The numbers song got stuck in my sons ear for quite a while. :)

Let’s learn Italian Picture Dictionary
This is more like a flashcard type of simple pictionary of numerous items in various setting such as classroom, house, garden, zoo etc. The kids went through it, anytime they got bored during our visit. Since they know Spanish and Italian is pretty similar, it was easier for them to remember the words.

My son actually talked to Italians in few occasions – with a little bit of help of course. But I was proud of the fact that he went for it, without fearing that he might not have understood the response.

Italy Discovery Journal: Adventures for kids 6-16
I got this book with higher expectations. It wasn’t as colorful or fun-looking as I imagined it would be. However, that doesn’t mean, that my son and daughter didn’t go through every single page and activity in it. It actually kept them quite busy and interested and gave them different ideas of activities that they can do with their surroundings, such as identifying car brands etc. We kept it with us at all times. The only drawback is its high price, which was most probably the reason for my high expectations.

Magic Tree House, Fact Tracker: Ancient Rome
We borrowed this from the library way before our trip. Only my son read it as my daughter still prefers picture books. I didn’t read the book, so I cannot speak to its content. I can tell, though, my son knew about the background and history of the places and main characters in relationship to the monuments and buildings that we visited better than I did, thanks to this book.

IMG_3497 Rome Reconstructed (Book + DVD)
Everyday Life in Imperial Rome (Book + DVD)
I got these 2 books from Rome. There are small and a big sizes. I got the small versions. These books show the reconstructed version of the sites and buildings using a flip-page system. I really like these type of books that helps you visualize what today’s ruins looked like in ancient times. The guide book I got for our trip to Chichen Itza was using the same reconstruction system. We haven’t had a chance to watch the DVS yet.

Few other encyclopedia type books about Ancient Rome
We borrowed few other encyclopedia-like, hard cover non-fiction books that were all named Ancient Rome. My son wasn’t into them after reading MTH, Fact Tracker book.

Most of these books helped us a lot before and during our trip. I wish we read more children’s books about famous Italian artists such as Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Raphael etc. before our visit. Italy Discovery Journal mentions that the names of Ninja Turtles come from the 4 Italian artists, but I know of Ninja Turtles more than my children do. Maybe we’ll work on the artists soon.

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