We know what movies we watch and what books we and our loved ones read, but sometimes we wonder—how much do we have in common with complete strangers? What books are they reading? As it turns out—mostly children’s books.
The New York Public Library published a list of the most checked-out books of all time to celebrate its 125th year of existence. At the top of the list is a diverse children’s book titled ‘The Snowy Day’ about a boy enjoying the snowfall. Since being published back in 1962, it’s been checked-out a whopping 485,583 times!
You’ll also be happy to know that mah homie Harry Potter, the incredibly talented Boy Who Lived, wizard extraoirdinaire, and slayer of evil forces, also made it to the top-10 list. Meanwhile, there are rumors floating about that the #1 slot would have been taken by a book other than ‘The Snowy Day.’
1. “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats (485,583 checkouts)
Image credits: Ezra Jack Keats / Amazon
2. “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss (469,650)
Image credits: Dr. Seuss / Amazon
3. “1984” by George Orwell (441,770)
Image credits: George Orwell / Amazon
4. “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak (436,016)
Image credits: Maurice Sendak / Amazon
5. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee (422,912)
Image credits: Harper Lee / Amazon
6. “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White (337,948)
Image credits: E.B. White / Amazon
7. “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury (316,404)
Image credits: Ray Bradbury / Amazon
8. “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie (284,524)
Image credits: Dale Carnegie / Amazon
9. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” by J.K. Rowling (231,022)
Image credits: J.K. Rowling / Amazon
10. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle (189,550)
Image credits: Eric Carle / Amazon
According to a representative of the New York Public Library, some children’s books that we know and love and expected to see on the list are missing from it. Specifically, the 1947 classic ‘Goodnight Moon’ that the Public Library only put on its shelves in 1972. There’s a really good reason it’s missing even though it’d probably be in the #1 spot by now.
“By all measures, this book should be a top checkout (in fact, it might be the top checkout) if not for an odd piece of history: extremely influential New York Public Library children’s librarian Anne Carroll Moore hated ‘Goodnight Moon’ when it first came out,” the Library representative explained.
Honorable mention: “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown
Image credits: Margaret Wise Brown / Amazon
There’s a whole bunch of children’s books on the NYPL list and it has everything to do with their length. The shorter the book is, the greater its circulation. So keep that in mind when you’re writing the next Great American Novel.
Andrew Medlar, one of the experts who helped compile the list, told CNN that New Yorkers are still streaming into the library. That means the Public Library’s goal is the same as it was 125 years ago. That is, providing New Yorkers with “knowledge, information and a lot of great books.”
Here’s the full list of the New York Public Library’s top checkouts:
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
Let us know which of these books you’ve read and why you loved them, dear Pandas! Personally, I still can’t believe ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ didn’t manage to slink its way up to at least the top 5!
Bored Panda spoke to Amy Geduldig from the New York Public Library about their 125th birthday, as well as about their most checked-out books.
Since most of the top checked-out books are very short, we asked Amy whether that’s what writers should aim for. “The Library isn’t recommending authors tailor their books to fit a prescribed format, rather that the circulation of children’s books tends to be faster than other books due to the nature of children’s books, which happen to be shorter and checked out more frequently due to how they’re used by parents and children.”
“As for the 21st-century children’s book with the greatest growth in children’s books, we wouldn’t want to speculate on titles that could be featured at this point. “
Amy mentioned some of the upcoming events to celebrate the Public Library’s 125th birthday, including:
-“Anniversary Book Lists: The Library will celebrate the joy of reading throughout 2020 with the launch of several book lists, including “125 Books We Love” from the last 125 years, to be released—appropriately—on Valentine’s Day. Branches and the Library’s podcast “The Librarian Is In” will hold book clubs around the list, which features adult books; lists featuring books for kids and teens will be released later in the year.”
-“Book of the Day Emails: To further encourage reading, the Library began 2020 by challenging New Yorkers to read for at least 20 minutes a day. To help, the Library launched “Book of the Day” emails, with daily recommendations. Thousands of signed up already; sign up at nypl.org/bookoftheday.”
-“Opening of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library (SNFL): The Library’s central circulating library on 40th Street and Fifth Avenue is currently undergoing a complete renovation and opening May 15, giving the people of New York City the branch that they have long needed and deserved.”
-“Anniversary Week Celebrations: The Library will host parties in its branches and hold a weekend celebration from May 10 to May 17 to celebrate the 125th anniversary.”
-“The Polonsky Exhibition of The New York Public Library Treasures: A permanent exhibition featuring items from the Library’s research collections—such as a copy of the Declaration of Independence in Thomas Jefferson’s hand—will open in November.”
-“NYC Parks Partnership: New York Public Library librarians and staff will be in recreation centers, parks, and other NYC Parks locations in 2020 conducting storytimes and sharing a love of reading.”
-“Concluding Celebration: In early December, The New York Public Library will be celebrated at The Cathedral of St. John the Divine as the concluding event of the 125th year.”