Since it was founded more than a century go, the New York Public Library has seen millions of books checked in and out. But the book that’s been checked out the most is a simple story about a child enjoying his city’s first snowfall.
The library, the second largest in the US after the Library of Congress, has released its list of the Top 10 checkouts of all time. Topping it is “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats. That picture book has been borrowed a whopping 485,584 times since it was published in 1962.
The story – about an African American boy named Peter – is “one of the earliest examples of diversity in children’s books,” the library said.
“‘The Snowy Day’ is such a relatable story because snow is an experience all New Yorkers have experienced,” Andrew Medlar, one of the experts who helped compile the list, told CNN.
There are several children’s books on the list
Coming in second is another beloved children’s book, Dr. Seuss’ “The Cat in the Hat,” which was checked out 469,650 times.
Other children’s books included in the list are Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are” with 436,016 checkouts and E.B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web” with 337,948.
Margaret Wise Brown’s “Goodnight Moon,” would also have been among the top checkouts, if not for a children’s librarian named Anne Carroll Moore. Moore disliked the story so much when it was published in 1947 that the library didn’t carry it until 1972, according to a library statement.
There are several reasons why a book gets checked out a lot
Medlar said there’s a reason why so many children’s books appear on the list.
“The shorter the book, the more turnover, or circulation,” Medlar said in a statement. “The adult books on the list tend to be shorter, such as 1984 and To Kill a Mockingbird.”
Other criteria that seem to influence whether a book is a top checkout are how many languages it’s available in, length of time in print, and universal appeal.
The list, released in honor of the library’s 125th anniversary, was determined by a team of experts who evaluated the “historic checkout and circulation data” for all formats, including e-books. Medlar said the process took a long six months, in which hundreds of books were looked at.
Despite a rise in e-books and prevalence of video streaming among today’s Americans, Medlar said New Yorkers are still coming to the library in great numbers and that the library’s goal today is the same as it was 125 years ago: To provide New Yorkers with “knowledge, information and a lot of great books.”
Here are the 10 most checked-out books:
1. “The Snowy Day,” by Ezra Jack Keats (485,583 checkouts)
2. “The Cat in the Hat,” by Dr. Seuss (469,650)
3. “1984,” by George Orwell (441,770)
4. “Where the Wild Things Are,” by Maurice Sendak (436,016)
5. “To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee (422,912)
6. “Charlotte’s Web,” by E.B. White (337,948)
7. “Fahrenheit 451,” by Ray Bradbury (316,404)
8. “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie (284,524)
9. “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” by J.K. Rowling (231,022)
10. “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” by Eric Carle (189,550)
Honorable Mention: “Goodnight Moon,” by Margaret Wise Brown