By Andrea Romano
January 14, 2020
Jonathan Blanc / NYPL

There are plenty of books to check out at your public library, but some are a little more popular than others.

The New York Public Library (NYPL) has announced its list of the most checked-out books in the library’s 125-year history. While you may expect the most popular book to be a classic, like Pride and Prejudice, or a modern page-turner, like Harry Potter, you’ll be surprised to learn that the most checked-out title is a children’s picture book.

Courtesy of NYPL

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats has been checked out a whopping 485,583 times since it hit the library shelves in 1962. The charming tale follows a young boy enjoying the first snow day of the season in his neighborhood. Not only is the story relatable and sweet, but the illustrations are also beautiful.

“At the end of the day, though, it’s all about the story, and it is absolutely brilliantly told,” said Andrew Medlar, director of the library’s BookOps selection team, in a statement. “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.”

Jonathan Blanc / NYPL
Jonathan Blanc / NYPL

To celebrate The Snowy Day, all NYPL locations are issuing new, special-edition library cards with illustrations from the book’s cover. Existing members can get this card by making a $1 donation. In addition, the NYPL has teamed up with the MTA to issue a special-edition MetroCard at the following stations:

  • Grand Central — 42nd St. (S,4,5,6,7)
  • 42nd St. — Bryant Park (B,D,F,M)
  • 34th St. — Penn Station (1,2,3)
  • 59th St. — Columbus Circle (A,B,C,D)
  • 3rd Ave. — 149th St. (2,5)
  • St. George Terminal (Staten Island Railway)
  • Broadway-Lafayette St. (B,D,F,M)
  • 125th St. (4,5,6)
  • Jay St. — MetroTech (A,C,F,R)
  • Sutphin Blvd. — Archer Ave. (E,J,Z)

Some branches will also host special programming around the book in January and February.

According to CNN, there are many reasons why a book is checked out more than others. It greatly depends on the book’s length, how many languages it is printed in, how long it has been in circulation, and of course, the general popularity of the title.

Below are the top 10 books checked out at the NYPL. While many of the top spots include treasured titles like To Kill a Mockingbird and Fahrenheit 451, many are also enjoyed by children.

  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

More information about the top titles and the NYPL’s 125th anniversary can be found on the New York Public Library website.

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