New York Public Library Most Checked Out Books of All Time

When I read this post, I wasn’t surprised. I was thrilled. These are the oldies and goodies, with a few new books sprinkled in. The number one, Ezra Jack Keats “The Snowy Day”, goes back to my my earliest years in teaching. As a young teacher, I latched onto every good book. Fast forward a few decades, and I stumbled across a remarkably wonderful museum. I walked in to see their current exhibit, and the first piece of art was an original illustration from “The Snowy Day” – made from carved linoleum. Really! I was stunned, and that piece of art ignited my love of illustrations, and of The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. And, number ten on the most checked out books from the New York Public Library is “The Very Hungary Caterpillar” by Eric Carle. Full circle.

The list is terrific. Happy reading!


About Jennie

I have been teaching preschool for over thirty years. This is my passion. I believe that children have a voice, and that is the catalyst to enhance or even change the learning experience. Emergent curriculum opens young minds. It's the little things that happen in the classroom that are most important and exciting. That's what I write about. I am highlighted in the the new edition of Jim Trelease's bestselling book, "The Read-Aloud Handbook" because of my reading to children. My class has designed quilts that hang as permanent displays at both the National Liberty Museum in Philadelphia, and the Fisher House at the Boston VA Hospital.
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56 Responses to New York Public Library Most Checked Out Books of All Time

  1. Thank you, Teagan for the post. Thank you Jennie for running it as well.

  2. We used to read A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle over and over when my little one was still little. I love classic children’s books.

  3. srbottch says:

    Wonderful article, Jennie. I recognize some of those from our own kids’ books. Goodnight Moon, what a treasure. And Charlotte’s Web will be around the top forever, I would venture. Thanks for posting.

  4. petespringerauthor says:

    I just checked out the list and was pleased that I’ve already read eight of the books from the list. Thanks for sharing, Jennie.

    • Jennie says:

      I was pleased to have read nine, plus Goodnight Moon. So, does that count as ten? 🙂 Can you believe the library would not carry Goodnight Moon until 1972 because the librarian hated the book? Terrible!

  5. How interesting that they can make this list. I would love to drive the book mobile. 😉 Love those old photos of kids lined up to check out books. I have always wanted my own bookstore or lending library. What fun that would be.

    • Jennie says:

      I would be terrified to drive a book mobile, but I would love to visit one. The old photos were wonderful. Marlene, you could make a Little Free Library!! You son could help you build it, and people would love it.

  6. This is wonderful…the books and the numbers!

  7. abbiosbiston says:

    Quite a few of my favourites on this list.

  8. Lots of good books on that list, and many I’ve read myself. 😀

      • #1 has been calling me everyday since I read him Alexander and the Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day on the pretext that his day was awful and only this book can make him feel a little better. It’s been a week!

        I am surprised that book didn’t make the list.

        I need to add A snowy day to my collection!

      • Jennie says:

        I love your story!! See what a difference you’re making by reading aloud? And I adore that book. “A Snowy Day” is for the very young, perfect for 2’s or young 3’s. Fabulous book, of course. 🙂

  9. michellesaul says:

    The Very Hungry Caterpillar was one of my favorites when I was younger and I can’t wait until I can read it to my children one day 🙂

  10. I love the outreach library photo, that’s so fabulous and so many people there. I did visit the New York Public library a few years ago when I was visiting NY.

    I have have read 2 if the 10..

  11. Maggie says:

    I read this article yesterday, Jennie. It was interesting to note that the length of the book (the faster it could be read) also contributed to that number.

    Illustrators are such an important part of a child developing a love of reading. (I ordered “The Snowy Day” for my granddaughter yesterday.

    • Jennie says:

      I thought about the length of the books, too. That may hold true for the children’s books, but not the adult books on the list. I’m so glad you ordered “the Snowy Day.” Thanks, Maggie.🙂

      • Maggie says:

        I was reading about the Missouri bill hoping to elect parent review boards to determine books sexually inappropriate for children.

        I was curious, so I did some research. ,In researching the children’s books banned in the past, I was surprised to find “The Snowy Day” as challenged and banned for a time. Not for sexual reasons, of course, but because the author was white.

      • Jennie says:

        The list of banned children’s books would both shock you and make you laugh. Thanks, Maggie.

  12. Elizabeth says:

    We used to drive to the Bookmobile every Saturday. It parked next to the grocery store. As for the books, in our family “but he was still hungry” was a standard line said by everyone when there was a chance of dessert.

  13. Jacqui Murray says:

    That is pretty cool. I check a lot of books out of my library. I can reserve them online and they emailed me when available. Wonderful service.

  14. I enjoyed reading the article very much. How gratifying that most of the books are for children! (Although I am curious as to why Anne Carroll Moore do disliked Goodnight Moon.)

    • Jennie says:

      I felt the same way, Liz. The fact that there were so many children’s books on the list speaks volumes. As to Anne, I’ve read about her before in a number of different places, from E.B. White’s stories of her (not pretty) to NY Times, to a Margaret Wise Brown book, and more. Anne hated the book, and her opinion was the final word. What shocked me was that Goodnight Moon was not in the NY library until 1972. Worse than terrible! Obviously the NY library knows had the book been there, and checked out since 1947 when it was written, it probably would have been #1 on the list. So, honorable mention is most appropriate.

      The next time you’re at the library, check out Melissa Sweet’s book, “Some Writer.” Really!

  15. teacherturnedmommyblog says:

    with the quantity and quality of picture books, I’m shocked that most of the list is picture books. I figured it would be young reader chapter books since those were in short supply for a long time, but I’m glad to see these classic books got so much recognition. Also, the fact the Harry Potter is in the top 10 says a lot. But, this book crosses ages so I’m not totally shocked

    • Jennie says:

      I know exactly what you mean. As a preschool teacher who reads all the picture books and young chapter books, I was still shocked that these books made up most of the list. Harry Potter does cross all ages. I think Charlotte’s Web does, too. I can’t believe the library did not carry Goodnight Moon until 1972 because of the librarian. Terrible.

  16. Thank you very much, for such a surprising information. They’d heared you Jennie! 😉

  17. The more I read about the US, Jennie, the more I wish I lived there. Our libraries have no new books and haven’t had for many years. Reading is not a popular past time among most people here. I think the weather is to good.

  18. Yes, really like Ezra Jack Keats, read his beautiful urban books to my son when we were living in the underpopulated Scottish Borders.My son is mixed race and I wanted him to see some black children in his picture books. But quite apart from that, they are wonderful books and he truly loved them.

    • Jennie says:

      What a great story, Cara. Back in the day it wasn’t easy to find urban books, or books with black characters. And to think The Snowy Day not only had those elements, it was an award winning book as well. Wow! Thank you!

  19. hionvel says:

    Loved it😍❤️❤️

  20. Pingback: New York Public Library Most Checked Out Books of All Time | "Making this World a better place from my little corner of this Earth."Author/Photographer Matthew C Seufer 2020

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