Ciao! Today we’re heading to Italy for a fun romp through this country chock full of history and culture! It’s home to the longest ruling empire (Roman empire), the birthplace of the Renaissance and one of my favorite meals, spaghetti. This of course means there are hundreds of Italy picture books. I maxed out my library card with this book list, and had to recheck them to get all of the geography lessons done for this.
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Because there are so many Italy picture books, I am subdivinding this book into different categories. In addition, I’ve added a new feature to my book lists, if you’re local to me, I’ve got a printable list for all of these books that I got from the library!
Italy picture books about culture
These picture books are just fun culture and different cities in Italy. These give you an idea of the country in general.
- Italy Adventure– This book is what got us started in Italy, I love this series and am sad we’ve outgrown the intended audience
- Three Scoops and a Fig– A cute story about a little girl cooking for her Nonno and Nonna
- Pizza in Pienza– a fun book about how pizza was invented, also I’ve linked to the edition that’s in English and Italian (our library doesn’t have this edition, but it’s a cool idea), also a pizza recipe is included
- The Matchobox Diary– This was my FAVORITE book from all of the books we checked out, it’s the story of an Italian immigrant and how before he learned to read he would fill a matchbox as a sort of diary, and then once he learned to read and write he kept doing it because he loved the memories.
- Gaspard on vacation– a fun book about exploring Venice
- The Glassmaker’s daughter– a cute story about a glassmaker who promises a prize to anyone who can make his grumpy daughter smile
- Madeline and the Cats of Rome– the Madeline books are always a fun way to explore another city as we follow her advenutres
- The Paint Box– A fictional story of the daughter of a painter who longs to be an artist herself, but can’t because she’s a woman, it’s a bit of fun with a “grass is greener on the other side”, since it’s fictional, I did not put it down with the Art Picture books
- Ice Mummy: the Discovery of a 5,000 year old man– Prior to reading this I hadn’t known something like this was discovered in Italy
- Nonna tell me a story: Lidia’s Christmas Kitchen– A cute story of a traditional Italian Christmas with LOTS of Christmas cookie recipes
- Pompeii- Buried Alive– a great book about the eruption of this volcano and the discovery of the city
- Time Trekkers: The Romans– I have a full book list of Ancient Rome picture books, this just happened to be the one I grabbed
- Let’s Visit Italy– I like to always grab one book like this for each country we study to give a nice overview
Catholic picture books in Italy
Because, in the middle of Italy is Rome, which has the “capital” of the Roman Catholic Church, and Christianity was central to large portions of Italian and Roman history, there are a whole slew of Catholic Saints from Italy. This of course means, it is a large part of the culture of Italy. Even if you are not Catholic, which I’m not, or Christian, which I am, it’s important to read some of these books because it gives you an idea of who Italians are and how they got to who they are now.
- Paul Gallico’s The Small Miracle– the story of a small boy who prayed to Saint Francis for a miracle and went to Rome to ask the Pope to pray for his donkey, very cute story
- Francis Woke Up Early– My library had several books on Saint Francis, this particular one focuses on him as a child and a story of him and a hungry wolf. I opted to get a different book on Saint Francis, but still think it’s a good book if you choose to pick it up
- A Gift from Saint Francis: The First Creche– Sadly this adorable looking book was checked out at the time, so we missed the chance to read it
- The Holy Twins: Benedict and Scholastica– I knew about Benedictine monks, but hadn’t known about Scholastica, so this was fun for me to learn about as we read the book
- Brother Francis and the Friendly Beasts– I love books like this, so it made me smile to read it
Art and Literature Italy Picture Books
Italy is the birthplace of the Renaissance. Just like with my France picture books, there are a whole slew of picture books about artists and musicians to read.
- Vivaldi and the Invisible Orchestra– a great book about one of my favorite composers
- Gabriella’s song-set in Venice, it’s a fun story how a little girl inspired a composer
- A Boy Named Giotto– about the artist Giotto, who I’m now realizing we forgot to learn much about in our Renaissance artists unit, there are just so many of them…
- Leonardo’s Horse– I missed this was a Jean Fritz book, I LOVE her books, when we studied Italy we’d just been studying the Renaissance and I’d just read all about this particular statue, so that made this book even more fun for me
- Boticelli– I love this series, it’s great for learning about artists (the rest of the books are from this series)
Italian Folk Tales and Fairy Tales picture books
I love folk tales and fairy tales. So, I always try to find at least one book in this vein for every country I can. Some countries I’m more successful than others. Italy had several great books for this category.
- Strega Nona: her story– Tomie DePaola has a whole series of these books. They are wildly popular about Strega Nona, a witch, who is sometimes nice and sometimes not. I checked out several books from the series (I’m only linking to one of them), these books actually led to us studying Russia next because the kids wanted to read about Baba Yaga to compare the two characters.
- Andiamo, Weasel!– A cute story about a crow who trusts a weasel and regrets it. From what I can tell this isn’t a traditional folk tale, but it’s in that genre
- Brave Donatella and the Jasmine Thief– This was checked out when we did our study, and I’m sad because the book looks so cute, it explains how some Italian wedding traditions started
- Grandfather’s Rock: An Italian Folktale– The book cover doesn’t look like much, but the story is fun
- The Feathered Ogre– A quick early chapter book to read
- Petrosinnella: a Neoploitan Rapunzel– I love reading different versions of fairy tales, so this one made me super happy to find
- Androcles and the Lion– a classic tale from Roman times supposedly based on a true story, there are loads of versions of this picture book
More Reading Adventures
We don’t just travel the world with picture books, we have loads of reading adventures: