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The New York Public Library unveils its top 10 most checked-out books ever

Shaye Weaver
Written by
Shaye Weaver

Out of the millions of books checked out since the New York Public Library's founding in 1895, 10 have risen to the top.

For its 125th anniversary, the NYPL took a look at checkout and circulation data over the years, trends, current events, popularity, length of time in print and presence in the library catalogue to come up with list of most checked-out books, and the results will probably be pretty familiar.

RECOMMENDED: Here are the most checked out books at the New York Public Library in 2019

The No. 1 most checked out book of all time is The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats from 1962. The Caldecott Medal winner is one of the earliest examples of diversity in children's books, following an African American on his snowy adventure through New York City neighborhood. Its universal appeal and magical experience is part of why it charms, the NYPL says.

Of course, Harry Potter makes an appearance on the list. The beloved series debuted in the 1990s and has since had a steady stream of checkouts each year, the library notes.

Dystopian stories 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 for the more mature crowd also make an appearance on the list as well as Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Here's the full list.

  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

In celebration of its 125th anniversary, the NYPL is teaming up with the MTA to offer a limited-edition Snowy Day MetroCard (and library card). You can pick one up at machines in 10 subway stations across the city, including 125th Street (4,5,6) in Harlem, Bronx's Third Avenue stop at 149th Street, and Jay Street-MetroTech in Brooklyn. 

Photograph: Courtesy Jonathan Blanc/NYPL

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