I recently published a review of a book entitled, A Kids’ Guide to Arab American History. It’s a wonderful read designed to introduce children to the vast history and rich culture of Arab Americans through fun activities, games, crafts and storytelling. I’m excited to now share another “must-have” multicultural education book for kids from the same publisher: Verdi for Kids, His Life and Music by Helen Bauer.
This year marks the 200th anniversary of Verdi’s birthday. What a perfect time to enlighten your child about the wonderful world of opera!
Giuseppe Verdi was the top composer of Italian opera for 50 years. His pieces are performed throughout the world today. The author of this book has created a content-rich and engaging resource for learning about opera music and, more broadly, Italian culture through the fascinating and passionate life story of Verdi.
I love that the book emphasizes Italy’s political history and culture. Kids will learn that Verdi, thought to be one of the world’s greatest composers, devoted himself to Italy and its people (even serving on the Italian Parliament). He was concerned about the welfare of the less fortunate in his country, as well its environmental health.
The book chronicles Verdi’s childhood, musical training, public service, and his road to fame. Activities featured in the book are designed to showcase various aspects of Italian culture in the era in which Verdi lived, and to demonstrate musical concepts introduced. For example, kids can design an opera costume; play bocce ball and rolling hoop; make homemade pasta; craft a panpipe; and make a carnival mask. There is even a section designed to teach kids how to read music!
Upper elementary level readers will likely be able to peruse this book on their own, but it is better suited for co-reading with an adult as the text provides so many opportunities for further and meaningful discussions about significant matters such as political events, Verdi’s relationships with other historical figures, and his depressed period triggered by the deaths of his wife and children.
Several text and photo inserts throughout the book serve as mini history lessons which detail famous events that took place during Verdi’s life, such as this section which outlines the grand opening festivities of the Suez Canal:
By completion of the book, kids will have learned about Italian culture; the passionate and sometimes, turbulent life of Verdi; how the genre of Italian opera music has developed; and what role Italy’s tumultuous politics played in it.
The author has created a global education gem perfect for parents and teachers who are looking for an in-depth and interactive way to introduce kids to the roots of opera music and the history and culture of Italy. Brava!
Interested in other educational resources designed to teach children about classical music? Check out these helpful links: