31° Good Afternoon
31° Good Afternoon
NewsNew York

Here are the 10 most-borrowed books from New York Public Library

"The Snowy Day" reigns as No. 1.

"The Snowy Day" reigns as No. 1. Credit: WireImage for Jumpstart / Amy Sussman

Want to borrow a copy of "The Snowy Day," the award-winning children's story about a young boy experiencing the simple joy of the season's first snowfall? Get in line.

The beloved picture book, written and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats, has been named the most-checked-out book in the New York Public Library's 125-year history.

A team of experts compiled a first-of-its-kind list of the 10 most-borrowed books since the library's founding in 1895. Library officials evaluated the books based on a series of factors, including checkout and circulation data, overall trends, popularity, length of time in print and presence in the library catalog.

"The books on this list have transcended generations and, much like the library itself, are as relevant today as they were when they first arrived," said New York Public Library president Anthony Marx. "This list tells us something about New Yorkers over the last 125 years — what moves them, what excites them, what stands the test of time."

Among the other Top 10 finishers, all with more than 400,000 checkouts, were "The Cat in the Hat" by Dr. Seuss, "1984" by George Orwell, "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak and "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee.

The most recent book on the list is J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," which was published in 1997 and ranked ninth.

The list also includes an honorable mention for the popular children’s book "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown, which would have been the system’s top checkout if not for an unusual bit of library trivia. Anne Carroll Moore, an influential children’s librarian, disliked the story so much when it was published in 1947 that the New York system didn’t carry it until 1972, officials said.

"The Snowy Day," in print and in the library’s catalog since 1962, is the story of Peter, a young Brooklyn boy dressed in a red snowsuit who wakes up to discover fresh powder in his neighborhood.

Andrew Medlar, director of the library’s BookOps selection team, who helped compile the list, attributes the book’s success to its universal appeal, wide availability in other languages, and decades in print.

“It is such a relatable story, and pure magic for kids and adults alike," Medlar said. "It’s on people’s radar screens, they remember when they first heard it, and they want to share that experience with their kids. And the artwork is just gorgeous.”

To celebrate the release of the list, all 92 public library locations are offering a limited-edition "The Snowy Day" library card. And beginning Monday, a special-edition MTA MetroCard celebrating the book will be available in 10 subway stations across the city.

The cards will be available at Penn Station machines on the 1, 2 and 3 lines, as well at Grand Central Station, 42nd St.-Bryant Park, 59th St.-Columbus Circle, Broadway-Lafayette St., 125th St., Third Ave.-149 St. in the Bronx, St. George Ferry Terminal in Staten Island, Jay Street-Metrotech in Brooklyn and Sutphin-Archer Ave. in Queens.

Top 10 most-borrowed books in the history of the New York Public Library

1. "The Snowy Day" by Ezra Jack Keats: 485,583 checkouts

2. "The Cat in the Hat" by Dr. Seuss: 469,650 checkouts

3. "1984" by George Orwell: 441,770 checkouts

4. "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak: 436,016 checkouts

5. "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee: 422,912 checkouts

6. "Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White: 337,948 checkouts

7. "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury: 316,404 checkouts

8. "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie: 284,524 checkouts

9. "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" by J.K. Rowling: 231,022 checkouts

10. "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle: 189,550 checkouts

Checkout numbers are as of the end of 2019.

Source: New York Public Library


We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.

More news