Is Italian on the list of things that either you or your child is interested in learning? It’s not generally taught at most schools; Spanish and French seem to be the norm, with a few others thrown in, depending on where the school is. And these two courses are usually only offered as a way of students to pursue college preparatory diplomas, not for satisfying a passion to learn a language. As much as I love Spanish, for example, it was German that I really wanted to learn (though Elvish would have been pretty darn cool, too).
If so, Teach Me… Italian: A Musical Journey Through the Day may be just the book you’re looking for. Judy Mahoney’s sweetly illustrated book may be black and white and a bit old fashioned, but it’s also a fun introduction to the Italian language.
Teach Me… Italian comes with a fun sing a long CD that features many of the common songs that we’re all familiar with from our own childhoods, from “The More We Get Together” to “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Many people who have studied foreign language would tell you that this is an ingenious way of learning a new language. That’s because you’re learning simple words and phrases that you already know in your own language, basically preparing your brain to be open to the new language without making it as difficult as, say, reading a textbook in Italian.
One year I lived with a Japanese roommate and bought her the movie Shrek for her birthday. She loved the heck out of that movie and watched it over and over again because she could understand the humor, as well as learn to speak English, with the help of its slang, simple vocabulary, and visuals. Using songs and films for language learning is an amazing tool.
The book itself is, unfortunately, completely in Italian, which can be problematic, since you don’t always know what the text is referring to. The text is super simple, however, and with a bit of context it can be simply learned. The text is translated in the back of the book, however, so you can check. The lyrics to the songs are also provided. There is also no pronunciation guide for the Italian alphabet, which can also be a problem for learners. Still, it’s a nice book to have on hand when learning the language.