The list below includes authentic materials that can support you on your language journey. These resources have been tried and tested by Italian parents living abroad and are regularly updated. Some of these resources are available for free through the national Libraries system or online.
What kind of language resources are suitable for 0 to 2 year olds?
Babies and toddlers need social interaction, chatting, smiling which can only be provided by humans. At this stage the best language resource is a responsive adult who tends to the communicative needs of the child.
Useful resources that can support you in creating a rich language environment for this stage include brightly coloured picture books, songs and other audio resources such as rhymes and short stories.
Books for for 0 to 2 year olds
At this age children like to manipulate the books, feel them and use them as toys. Even at a very young age children are ready to listen to short stories, but parents can also use the books to point at images and describe them. Reading to young babies might seem strange at first, but it is a great way for the child to become used to the parent’s voice and to the rhythm, sounds and patterns of a language. Babies will use all their senses to engage with a book!
Nati per leggere have compiled a very comprehensive guide of the best books published for children in Italian and in other languages. This list is updated regularly.
You will find some good quality books and CDs on Sinnos Publishers.
A very popular choice is also La Pimpa, the little dog who never gets old!
Babies and young children will love La Coccinella, a publisher of bright and durable books that have been entertaining children for over 40 years!
If you live in Ireland and want to order books from other countries, you can contact International Books in Dublin to see if your desired books and CDs can be ordered through their bookshop.
Songs and rhymes
Filastrocche (rhymes) can be a fun way for adults to play with language. Many are old fashioned riddles and include lots of word-play, but there are also some modern filastrocche. The rhymes and the rhythm in filastrocche make them ideal for young children, who love repetition! If there are movements associated with the songs and rhymes children will find them even more fun! You can find some at filastrocche.it
The libraries currently hold a copy of 101 filastrocche per 4 stagioni and a copy of Filastrocche delle stelle. You can order these books online and get them delivered to your local branch.
Rime per le mani is a tried and tested fun and engaging book of songs with a CD. The book includes some instructions on how to use it with children and how to use movements to accompany the songs.
Listening to stories
Telling stories to babies and toddlers makes them used to the adult voice, teaches them new words and prepares them for future literacy experiences. To support your own storytelling, you can find audio stories online. You can choose to play them while your child is playing a game on their own, almost as “background music”, to create an immersive language experience. At this age you should avoid using video stories and placing them in front of your child. Babies and toddler benefit from human interaction and regular use of screens at this age has been shown to have a negative impact on language and communication (see the article Bilingualism and communication skills).
You can find Rodari’s collection of Favole al Telefono freely available on Radio Rai 3.
The Italian experiment is an interesting website with a selection of fairy tales translated and read in Italian. You can read along too, so it would be a great way for a parent to learn along with the baby.
Fabulinis is a website with lots of new and traditional stories, rhymes and tongue twisters in Italian. Stories are available as audio files, so you can simply play them and enjoy them!
Dr Francesca La Morgia