Free Italian Books for Beginners: 5 Essential Resources

Reading in Italian is a step-by-step process.

You can’t crack open some Dante and expect to contentedly close the book a few hours later, totally fluent in the language.

Instead, beginning students need reading resources that pose just the right amount of challenge. As you build your grammar knowledge and vocabulary, you can move towards longer articles and more poetic books.

This post will take you through some unique places around the internet where even the newest Italian learner can find something to sit down and read.

Here are five great places to find free Italian books for beginners!

Contents


Free Italian Reading Resources for Beginners

1. ToLearnFree

Reading type: Short texts, dialogues

These short stories and reading exercises are specifically designed for beginner language learners. They’ll get new Italian readers off the ground and understanding the basics of sentence structure.

This site has over 100 exercises and dialogues covering a variety of fundamental topics, such as shopping, the weather and making appointments over the phone. Not only do these lessons boost basic reading comprehension skills, but they also help prepare students for real-world situations in Italian.

It’s always fun to read actual material catered towards native speakers, but sometimes it’s not the ideal place to start. What makes ToLearnFree so useful is that it offers an easy, vital first step into reading in Italian.

Some of the texts come with cartoons for added context, along with fill-in-the-blank or multiple-choice exercises to flex and test your skills.

When you’re ready, ToLearnFree also provides similar lessons for intermediate and advanced students—just choose your level at the bottom of the page.

2. Saber Italiano

Reading type: Short texts

Let’s say you’ve been doing reading exercises online or in a textbook. Maybe you want to move on to something a little more substantial.

It’s good to be eager, and Saber Italiano can help you take your first steps towards a higher Italian reading level by making learning entertaining. It provides a collection of short articles and stories for reading practice.

These Italian texts can be a little bit tricky for true newbies, as they’re entirely in Italian without translations—but their bite-sized length and the fact that they’re chosen specifically for language learners makes them a great beginner challenge.

The articles come with comprehension quizzes that earn you points. This gives you a tangible, engaging way to track your understanding. The quizzes are also entirely in Italian, so again, they’re probably best for beginners who aren’t at the very start of their journey.

3. Parallel Texts

Reading type: Classic books

Reading something entirely in a new language can be daunting, to say the least. But there are resources that are built to make it easy to figure out what’s going on, even if you’re just starting out. Parallel Texts is one such resource.

This site is a library of classic stories from around the world, all in Italian.

How can a new language student read a pages-long short story in a language they’ve only just started learning? Well, Parallel Texts does exactly what it says—it offers two versions of the text side-by-side, in Italian and English.

This means you can pick up a story written entirely in Italian with a translation right beside it to turn to whenever things get confusing. You’ll learn new words in context, which is both more effective and more engaging than diving for your dictionary every few seconds.

Parallel Texts has something for everyone, whether you want to read English-language titles in Italian or try stories that originated from Italy.

4. Logos Library

Reading type: Poems, stories, articles

Logos Library has a huge library of documents—well over 400—that can be accessed online for free.

These Italian readings can seem challenging, especially for beginners, but Logos Library can help you navigate an intimidating-looking text.

Click on one of the many available works and you’ll see author information, the option to download the text and the ability to translate selected pieces of the text. Even a full Italian poem can be translated with the click of a button.

Some texts even come with audio recordings, which can mix in ever-important listening skills with your reading.

5. Project Gutenberg

Reading type: Full books

Project Gutenberg was actually the first to provide free e-books to the world, as the site’s founder, Michael Hart, invented “electronic books” back in 1971.

With almost 1,000 Italian books in the archives, there’s sure to be something to interest every reader.

Project Gutenberg allows you to sort the whole list alphabetically by title, by release date or by popularity. If you’re looking for something specific, you can also search for it directly on the site.

There are multiple download options available for most of the books. Clicking on a title shows you that information as well as the book’s copyright, languages, subject and more.

While many of the available titles are probably beyond the scope of a beginning Italian reader, they’re all free, and with the use of a good Italian dictionary, they can allow adventurous new learners to jump right into cultural immersion and reading practice at the same time.

Why Read in Italian as a Beginner

I know, I know… you want to start chatting with native speakers, exploring Italy and effortlessly ordering espresso like a local.

But to truly learn Italian, you can’t procrastinate reading practice. It’s a necessary step toward fluency, and the sooner you start, the easier it’ll be.

With consistent Italian reading, you will:

  • Find new words to add to your vocabulary.
  • Naturally absorb Italian grammar rules and sentence structure.
  • Learn Italian in context, as it’s used by native speakers.

Even just an hour or two of reading practice every week can make a big difference.

Of course, if you pick up a book that’s too difficult, it’s easy to get discouraged and stop. It’s important to find material that matches your skill level.

The resources above contain free Italian books for beginners that use simple grammar and straightforward sentences. Many, especially if they’re a bit more difficult, also come with translations, which are helpful for building vocabulary and comprehension skills without getting lost.

If you want to mix multiple kinds of input (audio, visual, etc.), you can try watching videos with subtitles. There are plenty of Italian shows, movies and videos out there that work for beginners, and you can read the captions with the added bonus of visual context.

For Italian immersion with bite-sized clips, you could also try using FluentU.

 

Reading is one of the most important things a student can do to hone their language skills, and it’s something that should be done often.

With resources like these, it’s also something that can be done easily. Happy reading!

And One More Thing...

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Learn Italian with funny commericals, documentary excerpts and web series, as you can see here:

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FluentU helps you get comfortable with everyday Italian by combining all the benefits of complete immersion and native-level conversations with interactive subtitles. Tap on any word to instantly see an image, in-context definition, example sentences and other videos in which the word is used.

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Access a complete interactive transcript of every video under the Dialogue tab, and review words and phrases with convenient audio clips under Vocab.

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Once you've watched a video, you can use FluentU's quizzes to actively practice all the vocabulary in that video. Swipe left or right to see more examples of the word you’re on.

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FluentU will even keep track of all the Italian words you’re learning, and give you extra practice with difficult words. Plus, it'll tell you exactly when it's time for review. Now that's a 100% personalized experience!

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Start using the FluentU website on your computer or tablet or, better yet, download the FluentU app from the iTunes or Google Play store. Click here to take advantage of our current sale! (Expires at the end of this month.)

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