An Award-Winning Book Club for Kids
Shop Now

Italy: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about Italy?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to Italy. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about Italy.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid.

When it comes to children’s stories about Italy, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Strega Nona to popular sellers like Inkheart to some of our favorite hidden gems like The Thief Lord.

We hope this list of kids books about Italy can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!

Share this list
Add to list
The Clown of God
Written & illustrated by Tomie dePaola
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

This beautiful new edition of Tomie dePaola’s 1978 classic retelling of a French legend stars a little juggler whose unique talent leads him to what might be a Christmas miracle.

Little Giovanni is poor and homeless, but he can do something wonderful: he can juggle.

The people of Sorrento marvel at his talents, and before long, he becomes famous throughout Italy for his rainbow of colored balls that delight the nobility and townspeople alike. But as the years pass, Giovanni grows old, and his talents begin to fail him. No longer a celebrated performer, he is once again poor and homeless, begging for his food.

Until one Christmas Eve, when Giovanni picks up his rainbow of colored balls once more. And what happens next just might be a miracle…

Add to list
The Matchbox Diary
Written by Paul Fleischman & illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

Follows a girl’s perusal of her great-grandfather’s collection of matchboxes and small curios that document his poignant immigration journey from Italy to a new country.

Add to list
The Thief Lord
Written by Cornelia Funke & illustrated by Christian Birmingham
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The enchanting international bestseller with bonus back matter and a beautiful new cover!

Two orphaned brothers, Prosper and Bo, have run away to Venice, where crumbling canals and misty alleyways shelter a secret community of street urchins. Leader of this motley crew of lost children is a clever, charming boy with a dark history of his own: He calls himself the Thief Lord.

Propser and Bo relish their new “family” and life of petty crime. But their cruel aunt and a bumbling detective are on their trail. And posing an even greater threat to the boys’ freedom is something from a forgotten past: a beautiful magical treasure with the power to spin time itself.

Add to list
Strega Nona's Magic Lessons
Written & illustrated by Tomie dePaola
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

This delightful new edition of Tomie dePaola’s beloved classic stars Strega Nona at her trickiest—and bumbling Big Anthony at his silliest!

Bambolona is tired of working in her Papa’s bakery. There is far too much to do! So she decides to go to wise Strega Nona and learn a little magic, instead.

But here comes Big Anthony. He wants to learn, too…if he doesn’t make a big mess of things first!

Add to list
Strega Nona
Written & illustrated by Tomie dePaola
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

When Strega Nona leaves him alone with her magic pasta pot, Big Anthony is determined to show the townspeople how it works in this classic Caldecott Honor book from Tomie dePaola. Strega Nona—“Grandma Witch”—is the source for potions, cures, magic, and comfort in her Calabrian town. Her magical everfull pasta pot is especially intriguing to hungry Big Anthony. He is supposed to look after her house and tend her garden but one day, when she goes over the mountain to visit Strega Amelia, Big Anthony recites the magic verse over the pasta pot, with disastrous results. In this retelling of an old tale, author-illustrator Tomie dePaola combines humor in the writing and warmth in the paintings as he builds the story to its hilarious climax.

The Legend of Old Befana book
Add to list
Inkheart book
Add to list
Poppy and Vivaldi book
Add to list
Tony's bread book
Add to list
  • The Legend of Old Befana - In this beloved classic picture book, Tomie dePaola retells and illustrates an Italian Christmas folk tale, breathing warmth and humanity into the character of the lonely Old Befana and her endless search for the Christ Child. Every morning and every afternoon, Old Befana sweeps with her broom. “Cranky old lady,” the children say. “She is always sweeping!” Sweep, sweep, sweep. But when a brilliant star glows in the eastern sky one night, and Old Befana encounters the glorious procession of three kings on their way to Bethlehem, her little world will never be the same.

  • Inkheart - Cornelia Funke, the enormously talented author of the international best-seller THE THIEF LORD, brings readers another spellbinding tale of adventure and magic. Meggie lives a quiet life alone with her father, a book-binder. But her father has a deep secret— he posseses an extraordinary magical power. One day a mysterious stranger arrives who seems linked to her father’s past. Who is this sinister character and what does he want? Suddenly Meggie is involved in a breathless game of escape and intrigue as her father’s life is put in danger. Will she be able to save him in time?

  • Poppy and Vivaldi - Go on a musical adventure with Poppy the dog and friends in Poppy and Vivaldi. Children and parents will love pressing buttons and hearing the instruments and sounds of Vivaldi on every page! Go on a musical adventure with the adorable dog, Poppy, and learn about Vivaldi as he listens to favorite sounds from the great composer with his friend Enzo. The two friends take an unforgettable trip to the Carnival of Venice, where they hear the sounds of the mandolin, cello, flute, and more. From The Four Seasons to Griselda, Poppy and Enzo explore the opera and take a ride on a gondola, listening to the sounds of Vivaldi and learning a little bit about this great composer at the same time. With 16 buttons to push and hear, kids will love listening to the sounds of Vivaldi and the different instruments as they follow along with the story. With colorful illustrations and a new sound to discover on each page, both kids and parents will be entertained and engaged for hours. Poppy and Vivaldi offers an opportunity to teach kids about classical music and the sounds of some of Vivaldi’s great works. Now that is truly unique!

  • Tony's bread - A baker loses his daughter but gains a bakery in the grand city of Milano after meeting a determined nobleman, in a tale that explains the origin of the the name “panettone”—a traditional sweet bread of Italy.

Add to list
Strega Nona's Harvest
Written & illustrated by Tomie dePaola
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A charming celebration of autumn’s bounty by perennial favorite Tomie dePaola Tomie dePaola’s beloved Strega Nona is back in a colorful picture book, perfect for fall and the changing seasons. With beautiful illustrations reminiscent of the artwork that won Tomie dePaola the Caldecott Honor for the original Strega Nona, this celebration of harvest and gardening will make the perfect addition to any Strega Nona collection.

Add to list
Postcards from Venice
Written & illustrated by Dee Romito
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13

Twelve-year-old Skyler is in for a summer of adventure in Venice, Italy, as she pursues a dream opportunity in this hilarious MIX novel that’s a companion to The BFF Bucket List.

Add to list
The Magical World of Strega Nona
Written & illustrated by Tomie dePaola
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Enter the marvelous, magical world of Strega Nona!

This wonderful treasury features six favorite stories about Strega Nona and her sidekick, the bumbling Big Anthony—including the original Strega Nona, as well as Strega Nona Meets Her Match, Strega Nona: Her Story, Strega Nona Takes a Vacation, Strega Nona’s Harvest, and Strega Nona’s Gift. Tomie’s brand-new introductions to each story take readers behind the scenes to see how Strega Nona’s world has developed through the years. Also including an original lullaby—with sheet music and a CD—a map of Strega Nona’s town, and some fun recipes, this collection will give readers and music lovers much to savor.

Strega Nona, Tomie dePaola’s beloved “grandmother witch,” has been enchanting readers since the publication of the Caldecott Honor Award–winning Strega Nona in 1975. Strega Nona’s gentle humor, irrepressible spirit, and matter-of-fact approach to life have won her legions of fans young and old, and the American Library Association called her “an enduring character who has charmed generations of children.”

Add to list
Paolo, Emperor of Rome
Written by Mac Barnett & illustrated by Claire Keane
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A daring dog takes a whirlwind tour of Rome in search of freedom in new picture book from beloved storyteller Mac Barnett and masterful illustrator Claire Keane

Paolo the dachshund is trapped. Though he lives in Rome, a city filled with history and adventure, he is confined to a hair salon. Paolo dreams of the sweet life—la dolce vita—in the Eternal City. And then, one day, he escapes! Paolo throws himself into the city, finding adventure at every turn. Join our hero as he discovers the wonders of Rome: the ruins, the food, the art, the opera, and—of course—the cats. Readers will cheer the daring of this bighearted dog, whose story shows that even the smallest among us can achieve great things.

Add to list
The Brave Cyclist
Written by Amalia Hoffman & illustrated by Chiara Fedele
picture book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Once a skinny and weak child, Gino Bartali rose to become a Tour de France champion and one of cycling’s greatest stars. But all that seemed unimportant when his country came under the grip of a brutal dictator and entered World War II on the side of Nazi Germany. Bartali might have appeared a mere bystander to the harassment and hatred directed toward Italy’s Jewish people, but secretly he accepted a role in a dangerous plan to help them. Putting his own life at risk, Bartali used his speed and endurance on a bike to deliver documents Jewish people needed to escape harm. His inspiring story reveals how one person could make a difference against violence and prejudice during the time of the Holocaust.

Who Was Galileo? book
Add to list
Maria Montessori: My First Maria Montessori book
Add to list
Renato and the Lion book
Add to list
Little Guides to Great Lives: Leonardo Da Vinci book
Add to list
  • Who Was Galileo? - Like Michelangelo, Galileo is another Renaissance great known just by his first name—a name that is synonymous with scientific achievement. Born in Pisa, Italy, in the sixteenth century, Galileo contributed to the era’s great rebirth of knowledge. He invented a telescope to observe the heavens. From there, not even the sky was the limit! He turned long-held notions about the universe topsy turvy with his support of a sun-centric solar system. Patricia Brennan Demuth offers a sympathetic portrait of a brilliant man who lived in a time when speaking scientific truth to those in power was still a dangerous proposition.

  • Maria Montessori: My First Maria Montessori - This board book version of _Maria Montessori_—from the critically acclaimed, multimillion-copy best-selling Little People, BIG DREAMS series—introduces the youngest dreamers to the incredible life of this pioneering teacher and researcher. Maria grew up in Italy at a time when girls didn’t receive an equal education to boys. But Maria’s mother was supportive of her dreams, and Maria went on to study medicine. She later became an early childhood expert—founding schools with her revolutionary educational theories and changing the lives of many children. Babies and toddlers will love to snuggle as you read to them the engaging story of this fascinating educator and innovator, and will also enjoy exploring the stylish and quirky illustrations of this sturdy board book on their own. Little People, BIG DREAMS is a best-selling series of books and educational games that explore the lives of outstanding people, from designers and artists to scientists and activists. All of them achieved incredible things, yet each began life as a child with a dream. This empowering series offers inspiring messages to children of all ages, in a range of formats. The board books are told in simple sentences, perfect for reading aloud to babies and toddlers. The hardcover versions present expanded stories for beginning readers. Boxed gift sets allow you to collect a selection of the books by theme. Paper dolls, learning cards, matching games, and other fun learning tools provide even more ways to make the lives of these role models accessible to children. Inspire the next generation of outstanding people who will change the world with Little People, BIG DREAMS!

  • Renato and the Lion - The touching, magical story of a boy in a war-torn country and the stone lion that rescues him. Renato loves his home in Florence, Italy. He loves playing with his friends in the Piazza della Signoria. He loves walking home by the beautiful buildings and fountains with his father in the evenings. And he especially loves the stone lion who seems to smile at him from a pedestal in the piazza. The lion makes him feel safe. But one day his father tells him that their family must leave. Their country is at war, and they will be safer in America. Renato can only think of his lion. Who will keep him safe? With luminous watercolor paintings, Barbara DiLorenzo captures the beauty of Florence in this heartwarming and ultimately magical picture book.

  • Little Guides to Great Lives: Leonardo Da Vinci - Most famous as the painter who created the Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci is also one of history’s greatest geniuses-he was a mathematician, architect, astronomer, scientist, and musician. and he even invented the helicopter! From artists to aviators and scientists to revolutionaries, Little Guides to Great Lives is a brand new series of small-format guides introducing children to the most inspirational figures from history in a fun, accessible way. Launching with Leonardo da Vinci, Marie Curie, Nelson Mandela, and Amelia Earhart, Little Guides to Great Lives tells the stories of the most amazing people from all over the world and across history, with full-color illustrations and fresh design to bring their incredible stories to life.

Add to list
Madeline and the Cats of Rome
Written & illustrated by John Bemelmans Marciano
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-8

The Paris skies are gray, so Miss Clavel and the twelve little girls are leaving for brighter weather? spring in Rome. Rome has wonderful sights to see and delicious things to eat, but Madeline also finds an unexpected adventure, involving a thief, a chase, and many, many cats. The first all-new Madeline book in close to fifty years combines a lively story with luminous gouache and watercolor illustrations. Beloved Madeline returns, as brave and irrepressible as ever!

Add to list
Frozen Man
Written by David Getz & illustrated by Peter McCarty
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

Recounts the discovery of a man’s remains found frozen in the Alps, and describes how scientists determined that he had died five thousand years earlier

Add to list
Neo Leo
Written & illustrated by Gene Barretta
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Cleverly shows how Leonardo’s ideas foreshadowed modern inventions. At once an artist, inventor, engineer, and scientist, Leonardo da Vinci wrote and drew detailed descriptions of what would later become hang gliders, automobiles, robots, and much more.

Add to list
First Words - Italian
Written & illustrated by Lonely Planet Kids
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

Perfect for introducing very young children to the Italian language, this colourful board book features 12 words to learn – from ‘sun’ and ‘shoes’ to ‘beach’ and ‘bed’. Each word is accompanied by an illustration and pronunciation guide that make the vocabulary easy to learn.

From Lonely Planet Kids, First Words Italian is a great learning resource for families planning a trip or practicing a new language at home. Our dedicated First Words website features a free audio pronunciation guide where you can hear each word spoken out loud.

Add to list
Arrivederci, Crocodile
Written & illustrated by Fred Marcellino
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

First that dastardly Napoleon kidnapped Crocodile from his beloved Egypt, then he dragged him to Paris to be gawked at, and THEN he tried to eat him! Luckily our dear croc escaped, but while Parisian life may be glamorous, life in Paris’s sewers is not. If only Napoleon had taken Crocodile to a more aquatic reptile–friendly city. Perhaps one with an excess of canals and better food… “NAPOLEON TO TOUR ITALY: FIRST STOP, VENICE” Surely Napoleon wouldn’t mind if Crocodile hitched a ride out of Paris… Will our crocodile find his perfect home amongst Italian high-society? Or will he be revealed as an impasta? Pack away your pasta—Crocodile is heading to Italy in this long-awaited sequel to Fred Marcellino’s award-winning I, Crocodile.

Vacation Under The Volcano book
Add to list
Granny Torrelli Makes Soup book
Add to list
The Tiny Traveler: Italy book
Add to list
The Glassmaker's Daughter book
Add to list
  • Vacation Under The Volcano - Who wants to vacation next to a volcano? Jack and Annie are about to find out when the Magic Tree House whisks them back to the days of the Roman Empire. They arrive in Pompeii and soon discover that it is the very day the city will be destroyed. Now Jack and Annie must race against time to find an ancient library before it is buried in ash!

  • Granny Torrelli Makes Soup - Bailey, who is usually so nice, Bailey, my neighbor, my friend, my buddy, my pal for my whole life, knowing me better than anybody, that Bailey, that Bailey I am so mad at right now, that Bailey, I hate him today. Twelve-year-old Rosie and her best friend, Bailey, don’t always get along, that’s true. But Granny Torrelli seems to know just how to make things right again with her interesting stories and family recipes. It’s easier to remember what’s important about love, life, and friendship while Granny Torrelli makes soup.

  • The Tiny Traveler: Italy - How many gondolas float down the canal? Can you count the number of masks at Carnival? Toddlers will answer these questions and more in this new book from Misti Kenison in her Tiny Traveler series. Travel from Rome to Venice as you and your little one count your way through Italy’s most famous landmarks. From one leaning tower to seven fresh pizzas coming out of the oven, you’ll catch the travel bug while teaching children the basics of counting! The fourth book in Kenison’s Tiny Traveler board book series will exposure your child to another country and culture while teaching him or her the basic concept of counting and numbers. So sit back and explore the world with your little one from your very own living room. Traveling to foreign places has never been so fun, or educational, for young children before! A wonderful series for young toddlers (0 to 2 years), this book teaches the basic concept of numbers and counting. Can be used at home or in a childcare facility to teach basic concepts.

  • The Glassmaker's Daughter - Daniela the glassmaker’s daughter is grumpy and never smiles. Her father promises a beautiful glass palace to anyone who can make her laugh. People come from far and wide to try their luck in amusing Daniela. But mask makers, lion tamers and magicians cannot raise a smile from the princess. It is only when a young apprentice makes the first looking glass that Daniela learns to smile – at her own grumpy reflection! This beautiful fable set in sixteenth-century Venice features stunning illustrations from award-winning artist Jane Ray alongside a poetic text.

Did you enjoy our children's book recommendations? Did you know you can help us improve this list? Check out our Community Handbook and learn how to add tags to books.