We are big book lovers in my house. We have arguably too many shelves filled with well-paged books, as well as the occasional tome that we have yet to crack open. And the kids books? Well, those are read over and over and over again. Of course, I don’t always get a say in the book that is being read for the 1000th time, but when I am shopping for children’s books, I find myself drawn to books with beautiful artwork, as much as beautiful storytelling. Living in a place like Rome, we like the kids to be able to learn more about their city (and recognize spots from books when we are out and about). I have my own list of books about Rome that I always recommend to grownup travelers, but it is definitely time for a round up of the best kids books about Rome, too!
Ages 2-6 (though grown-ups love it too)
This book tells the story of Paolo, a little dachshund who escapes from his ordinary life as a shop-dog because the mystery and chaos of Rome is calling to him. He explores the city and encounters some of the other animals who call Rome home. Eventually, he finds adventure and is applauded for his bravery. But he does not want to live in the fine palaces of the Eternal City, either. He simply wants to be out in his city. (I love the illustrations in this book! And we always keep an eye out for the naughty cats that Paolo barks at when we walk by Largo Argentina).
For ages 3-8
I am a big fan of Usborne books because I think they typically do a great job of presenting fairly complex history or science concepts in an age-appropriate way. This lift-the-flap book is not really appropriate for anyone under the age of three, when the babies are more likely to rip the flaps off than really engage with the pages. BUT, it is great for that young child age when they love to hunt around and find more hidden parts of the photo. Each page is an incredibly detailed picture of some part of daily life in Ancient Rome. Kids can see what the bathhouses, villas and temples all looked like and learn more about the history of the empire.
I LOVE all of the books by Miroslav Sasek because the illustrations are amazing and present different cities or countries frozen in time. (We also own his books about Ireland, Venice, Hong Kong and San Francisco). Sendak captured daily life in Rome in the 1950s and explains how Romans lived. There are a few tiny corrections at the end of the book to explain how things have changed in the intervening decades, but it is so charming to flip through this vintage picture book. Plus, Rome is Rome so much of the city is still the same!
A great option for the plane or train, this sticker book is a fun way to introduce kids to Ancient Rome. They can put gladiators inside the Colosseum or fill up the ancient city with historic characters while learning a few simple facts about life in the Eternal City thousands of years ago.
Best for ages 8-12
This history book focuses on the Flavian Amphitheatre, also known as the Colosseum. It details when and why the colosseum was built and the types of spectacles that used to take place there. In addition to introducing the history of the amphitheater and the gladiators, the book also introduces a little bit about Ancient Rome and what life was like there. It is a good starting book for budding historians.
For ages 7+
This is our go-to book for facts about ancient Rome. The pages have full color photographs of artifacts and information about each piece, as well as a short summary of a specific historic theme on each page. It is a bit much for my nearly-5-year-old but he does like to go back to it and focus on a few pages in each sitting.
Young adult readers
This YA novel about 13-year-old Beatrice Archer is by Rome-based author Tiffany Parks. Beatrice moves to the Eternal City with her father and finds herself pulled into a mystery that involves the Turtle Fountain just below her window. The novel strikes a great balance between art history and young teen adventure. Make sure you bring your young reader to Piazza Mattei in person so they can see the place of the crime!
Do you have any other favorite children’s books about Rome?
Please note that links included may be affiliate links, which means that it doesn’t cost you anything extra, but that I earn a small commission should you choose to make a purchase. If you are in Rome, I highly recommend picking up a copy in person and supporting a shop like the Otherwise Bookshop or heading out to your own local independent bookstore.
One thought on “Children’s Books About Rome”
I’m so glad you’re writing a children’s series of Italy. I would like to talk to you more if you could email me thank you Natalie.