Hyping up Rome to a 5 year old
February 12, 2019 4:19 AM   Subscribe

We will almost certainly vacation in Rome this May. It is one of my wife’s and my favorite places. It will be my 5-year-old daughter’s first trip to Europe, which is exciting for her, but she doesn’t know much about Rome, compared to Paris or London. Can you recommend some age-appropriate media to introduce her to the Eternal City?

Ensign Haddock knows London from Mary Poppins, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, etc., and Paris from Tati’s Monsieur Hulot, Madeleine, The Hunchback of Norte Dame, etc.

We don’t have a hook for Rome, other than one or two vignettes from Richard Scarry books.

Any format is fine, and it doesn’t matter if it’s kid specific (cf. M. Hulot, which she enjoys). We read chapter books at bedtime, so it need not be just picture books. Films and videos are fine. Modern era or historical Rome is good. Roman mythology is probably a bit tangential—I’m looking for depictions of Rome per se, not Italian culture more broadly.

Grazie mille!
posted by Admiral Haddock to Travel & Transportation around Rome, Italy (18 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Madeline and the Cats of Rome,
Luckily sometimes Madeline travels to other cities!
(there aren't that many stray cats anymore in Rome, though... hope she won't be disappointed!)
posted by nantucket at 4:38 AM on February 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

Rome: In Spectacular Cross-Section I haven't read the Rome one, but we had the castles one growing up and it was really interesting to look at all the detailed drawings as a kid.
posted by abeja bicicleta at 5:13 AM on February 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

I remember being pretty impressed by Richard Scarry's depiction of Rome, which I guess was in "Busy, Busy, World". It looks like someone made it into TV. Warning: child may expect you to drive a car down stairs.
posted by thelonius at 5:13 AM on February 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

(there aren't that many stray cats anymore in Rome, though... hope she won't be disappointed!)

I don't know about media, sorry, but the piazza where Caesar was killed is full of families of strays.

To the question: is Asterix and Obelix out of the question?
posted by pompomtom at 5:20 AM on February 12, 2019 [3 favorites]

The cats were here, draped all over the ruins about eight years ago when I was in Rome. Check out the other Rome oddities on the website to see if anything would be appealing to a five-year old. And let's not forget the costumed Centurions and gladiators near the major sites--corny but colorful for a child.
posted by Elsie at 5:23 AM on February 12, 2019 [2 favorites]

Not sure if you're churchgoing people, or otherwise interested, but might she be interested in the Biggest Church in the World? In the Smallest Country in the World?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:37 AM on February 12, 2019

If she's that kind of child, Horrible Histories: The Rotten Romans & Ruthless Romans. Ooh look, a BBC film clip: Horrible Histories - Roman Toilets! Several film clips in fact. Not all about toilets --*pointy finger* warning for crude

On the other hand that might not be quite what you had in mind
posted by glasseyes at 5:40 AM on February 12, 2019

This is Rome, from a series of books about different cities, by the wonderful illustrator Miroslav Šašek. There are some photos of the interior here.
posted by Kabanos at 5:49 AM on February 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

Kid's Animated History with Pipo has 2 episodes on ancient Rome that you can stream for free if you have Amazon Prime.
posted by belladonna at 5:50 AM on February 12, 2019

Usborne children's books are consistently awesome. You can go here for a list of their 30 Rome and Roman books, and you can search by age. See inside Ancient Rome (which we have) and Look inside Roman town look good for you.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 6:10 AM on February 12, 2019

Yes, I was in Rome this past summer and there were far fewer stray kitties around...maybe still in the piazza though.
posted by nantucket at 6:44 AM on February 12, 2019

Would the Lizzie McGuire series be pitched too old? Because the series ends with a movie where she goes to Rome.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:50 AM on February 12, 2019

When my younger sibling came to visit me in Italy at around the same age they were really excited about Renaissance artists because of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. :)
posted by tangosnail at 7:28 AM on February 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

My 6 year old has been enjoying re-reads of “Dodsworth Goes to Rome.” It’s an easy reader chapter book with cute pictures. It is for children who find misbehaving ducks hilarious, so YMMV.
posted by Maarika at 7:37 AM on February 12, 2019

I would let a kid see Roman Holiday, if yours is a household where you watch old movies.

Rome is such a wonderful place to take kids-- have fun!
posted by BibiRose at 9:15 AM on February 12, 2019

There are a couple of Carmen Sandiego episodes (World and Time) that feature Rome, if I recall correctly.
posted by domo at 9:56 AM on February 12, 2019

And The Italian Job, the old one, if your kid is the type who likes capers with cool cars. (Edited to add: oh sorry, I think that's in Turin.)
posted by BibiRose at 11:53 AM on February 12, 2019

David Macaulay did a TV documentary called Roman City (based on the book City), which I thought was one of the greatest things ever as a kid. It does cover more than Rome, but let's put it this way--I haven't seen the Sistine Chapel because when my family went to Rome in high school, we skipped the Vatican Museums in favor of going to EUR to find the giant model of Rome he stands next to in the documentary. (I discovered the other day that the Museo della Civita Romana has closed. I'm not sure if the model is elsewhere or just closed to the public.)
posted by hoyland at 4:41 PM on February 12, 2019

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