Which books are checked out from libraries most often? Can you guess?

Forget the best-sellers lists. I don’t want to know what’s popular — I want to know what’s happening in libraries, the center of American culture.

For its 125th anniversary the New York Public Library has calculated its most checked-out books of all time. I bet you can’t guess the top five!

Here they are, below the fold, along with some very brief comments from me:




  1. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats: 485,583 checkouts (never heard of it)
  2. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss: 469,650 checkouts (not a surprise)
  3. 1984 by George Orwell: 441,770 checkouts (a good choice, especially today)
  4. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak: 436,016 checkouts (again not a surprise)
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: 422,912 checkouts (a standard)

Coming back to my first sentence above, I recall a brief incident from my student teaching days. A classmate asked the professor about what to do to project an air of authority to our students, and he said that we should always read every book on the New York Times best-sellers list.

That was wrong on so many levels!

Categories: Books