As we get older, a lot of us like to travel. We pick up our passports and go visiting different countries to see the sights, taste the food, learn more about the history of where we are visiting and possibly chill out on the beach a little bit. That’s just one of the advantages of being adult. Unfortunately, children can’t go travelling when and where they please but learning about other countries and their different cultures is great for their all-round education and it can be done from the comfort of their favourite reading chair.
The award-winning children’s author Carole P. Roman has written a series of children’s picture books, suitable for children 4-8 years old, that introduces them to different cultures and countries around the world. This award-winning series is If You Were Me and Lived in ….
For this review, we head off into southern Europe to the country that is often referred to as ‘The Boot’ in If You Were Me and Lived in… Italy, the 21st book in the A Child’s Introduction to Cultures Around the World series.
This book introduces children to the country and culture of Italy, with the information being delivered by a boy and girl telling you what it would be like if YOU lived in Italy. Starting with the Roman Empire and the hold they had on the world, including Britain you travel back in time through hundreds of years of Italian history. Children can also learn about popular Italian names, their currency, popular games, sports, and of course we can’t forget the delicious Italian food (and kids, it isn’t pizza!).
It focuses mainly on the capital city, Rome, the only city in the world to have a country within its borders. It shows what it would be like to live in Rome, what sights you would visit and what foods you would be eating, including everybody’s favourite, gelato (to you and me that’s ice cream). Children will learn brief snippets of facts about the history of the country, the geography of it and even about gastronomy with Italian dishes.
There are lots of Italian words in the book and as most people won’t have Italian speakers at home, Carole P. Roman addresses this quite easily with child-friendly, broken down pronunciations of these words in brackets next to the Italian words littered across the pages. As we know, Italy is known fondly as The Boot or in Italian as Lo Stivale, as children might not know how to pronounce it the child-friendly pronunciation shown is Lo Stee-val-e. There is also a handy glossary at the back of the book with a brief description and pronunciation of all the Italian words used within the book.
As you work your way through the book, young readers will also be asked if they can work out what certain Italian words mean within the story (tip: the beautiful illustrations will help).
Overall, If You Were Me and Lived in… Italy is a very informative book that delivers some brief but interesting facts about the country, language and culture, using some excellent illustrations. It is an excellent start into learning more about another country (without using a tourist guide, or if you want to show off your Italian, guida turistica), what they do there, what they eat and their cultural differences.
If you want a short book that won’t overwhelm the kids with boring facts and figures but will give them a brief insight into Italy and its culture, then this is an excellent book to ignite a child’s interest. The information is delivered in a very child-friendly way and the beautiful illustrations by Kelsea Wierenga are well-drawn in a unique way and deliver just as much information as the text.
If You Were Me and Lived in… Italy is a fun and factual, illustrated picture book that is very educational. It is never too early to get your children interested in other world cultures and their diversity and Carole P. Roman’s If You Were Me and Lived in… series gives an excellent starting point to instil the basic understandings of different places around the world.