To celebrate its 125th anniversary, the New York Public Library released a top ten list of its most checked-out library books of all time, with several classic children's and young adult books featuring prominently among the beloved (and immensely popular) titles.

With an astonishing 485,583 check-outs, the library's most borrowed book of all time is the Caldecott Medal-winning picture book The Snowy Day, by author/illustrator Ezra Jack Keats. First published in 1962, The Snowy Day is universal in its appeal as a young boy delights in the magical new world that appears after the first snowfall.

The other picture books ranking among the NYPL's most checked-out include the wild rumpus of Maurice Sendack's Where the Wild Things Are (borrowed 436,016 times), and Eric Carle's charmingly illustrated The Very Hungry Caterpillar (189,550). For middle-grade readers, the most checked-out titles include E.B. White's 1952 classic Charlotte's Web (337,948) about the endearing friendship between a spider and a pig, and the wildy popular first entry in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (231,022), by J.K. Rowling. First published in 1998, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone skyrocketed to #9 on the NYPL's top ten list with only 22 years of circulation (compared to The Snowy Day's 58 years)!



Rounding out the most checked-out library books are three classics which deal with complex themes of racism, censorship, and authoritarian control. Borrowed 441,770 times since its publication in 1949, George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four predates modern dystopian young adult fiction by decades, while remaining prescient and relevant well into the 21st century. The Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee has been adapted for the stage and screen and was checked out 422,912 times. Another dystopian classic, Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 (316,404) is set in a world where a fireman tasked with burning books discovers the power of the written word.


An honorable mention was given to the popular bedtime story Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. Although the book was first published in 1947, the NYPL didn't start carrying it until 1972. With 25 extra years of circulation, Goodnight Moon may have topped this all-time list! 


Want more great content? Click here to subscribe to our Teacher Newsletter and get teaching ideas delivered right to your inbox.