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Italian Songs for Kids
Use music to entertain and educate children about Italy, its language, and culture
by Francesca Di Meglio
This Thanksgiving I'm most thankful for having a one-year-old son, whose mind we're beginning to mold. I've always said that I would teach my children about where they come from, not just our home in the United States, but the home of their ancestors. Whatever problems I have with Italy – and frankly there are more than a few lately – I want my son to know the Italian language, culture, and history. After all, the blood that runs through his veins is 100 percent Italian, even if he was born in Mommy's glorious America.
To know yourself is to know your family's history. There's no denying Italy played a huge role in our past. One of the easiest ways to help him connect with Italy and his Italian relatives at this age is through song. It is also one of the best ways to introduce the Italian language to children. (The other, by the way, is to constantly speak to them in Italian, or at least that's what my doctor and others have told me.)
Lately, I turn on my computer, head to YouTube and search for my son's favorite Italian songs. And it usually gets my son, and especially his older cousin, to shake their booties. Here is their play list (feel free to make it your own):
Coccodrillo Come Fa
This adorable song about what a crocodile does always puts the kids in a trance. They can't take their eyes off the screen, thanks to a cartoon that has a red-headed scientist contemplating the croc's behavior, which includes never wearing a coat and vegging out with a cold drink in front of the TV.
Volevo Un Gatto Nero
I crack up every time I hear this ditty about a kid who made a pact with his friend to give him all sorts of animals, including an elephant, in return for a black cat. When the friend hands over a white cat instead, the pact is off and the friendship is over. It certainly sounds like every Italian family feud I've ever been in or heard of. C'mon, you know I'm speaking the truth.
Tutti a Tavola
More than any of the other songs, this one speaks to the Italian culture. It's sung by children, and it's all about lunch time at home. The adorable lyrics are distinctly Italian and include a line about giving wine to the adults at lunch and how everyone loves each other more when gathered around the table – and eating, of course.
Le Manine Laboriose
My sisters-in-law would sing this to my son whenever they gave him a bath when we were in Italy. I like this song because it talks about the work ethic of yesteryear, the one Italians used to have and that I'd like my son to emulate. The song discusses all the work one's hands have to do, such as ironing. The version on YouTube is different from the one we used to sing in Italy. It's shorter and does not include all the ways in which the hands have to work, but you will get the point. And the kids in the video are cute.
Viva La Pappa Col Pomodoro
A classic song sung by Rita Pavone, this one is not necessarily for kids. But its catchy tune and playfulness with words, particularly pomodoro, will get stuck in your kid's head. None of you will ever forget what a pomodoro is (tomato, for those who weren't sure). It's also a fun song to sing when you're trying to get your child focused on eating, since it is essentially about the wonders of tomato soup or puree. The song reminds the world that a hungry population will revolt. The same is true of your kids, so they'll relate.
While this is not at all a children's song, it has become a staple for my son and his cousin. It might have something to do with the fact that my niece is named Maria and the song features a blond American, which is what she is. Sung by the famous Italian group Ricchi e Poveri, this one is great for dancing. Frankly, many of the group's songs are good for kids and use simple Italian language set to a rhythmic beat. Others I'd recommend include Che Sara' and Sara' Perche' Ti Amo.
Di Meglio is the author of Fun with the Family New Jersey and you can follow her life and work at the Two Worlds Web site.
Article Published 10/22/12
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