6 Great Books About New York City

October 18, 2012

By Amy Hackworth.

In honor of Gabrielle’s quick trip, I thought it would be fun to do an NYC roundup. I’ve always loved New York City for its countless wonders: art, culture, design, shopping, people — even the traffic fascinates me. These picture books are a great place to share the magic of the city with the little ones in your life, whether you’re just beginning a love affair with New York or keeping your enchantment alive.

1) In Abuela, Rosalba imagines what it would be like if she and her grandmother could fly high above New York City. Featuring famous landmarks, a beautiful relationship between grandmother and granddaughter, some Spanish vocabulary and bright folk art style illustrations, this book is a treat.

2) Matteo Pericoli’s See the City: The Journey of Manhattan Unfurled is an inspiring exercise in really seeing what’s around you. Pericoli draws both the east and west sides of Manhattan with impressive accuracy and a simple, architectural sketch style. It’s one of the coolest books I’ve ever seen. Among my favorite things: his straightforward, inspiring narrative that explains his process and approach (“Drawing is learning. Try and you’ll find out.”), the form of the book that flips over to show east side and west side, and his interesting handwritten labels of landmarks and non-landmarks. A great choice for thoughtful artists.

3) Madlenka pays tribute to the diversity of New York City, and the comfort of community, as little Madlenka experiences the world’s cultures by walking around her block to share the news of her loose tooth. Engaging cut-outs and incredible illustrations, many with unique perspectives, make this a book you can savor.

4) For a more literal — and equally fun — version of city letters, look at ABC NYC: A Book About Seeing New York City full of fun, uniquely New York vocabulary and photographs.

5) When You Meet a Bear on Broadway is a sweet story about a little girl whose kindness and ingenuity help a lost bear find his mama. The soft watercolor illustrations are a perfect complement to the tone of the story, which earned a starred Booklist review.

6) The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, a Caldecott book, documents the incredible story of Philippe Petit, who walks on a tightrope between the two buildings. Even in picture book form, his dizzying feat makes my stomach drop, but the book captures Petit’s honest wonder and passion for tightrope walking in a beautifully told story. It gently acknowledges that the towers are gone now, but they live in our memory.

Like the endless wonders of the city, this list could be a mile long. Please share your favorites in the comments!

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Sharon @ Discovering Blog October 18, 2012 at 12:03 pm

These books look wonderful – I especially want to check out the ABC NYC one!
I recently picked up New York’s 50 Best Places to Take Children (http://www.amazon.com/Yorks-Best-Places-Take-Children/dp/0789318997/ref=pd_sim_b_8)
and it’s a wonderful guide. I have some places marked for when the weather turns cold!
Last weekend we went to the Bronx Zoo, which was just such a wonderful place to visit. The fact that there are giraffes in the heart of the Boogie Down Bronx is just mindblowing.


2 Amy Hackworth October 18, 2012 at 8:02 pm

So fun! Wish I could tag along on your outings!


3 Oum October 18, 2012 at 1:05 pm

I love NY even if I have never set foot there … Speaking about books, my Amercian friend showed me once a children’s book, a “musthave” for kids as she said. It is about this little girl living in the a hotel (Plaza I think). Gosh, can’t remember the name but it was a nice and wonderful little children’s book with nice illustrations …


4 Oum October 18, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Found it:

(And yes, I reply to myself)


5 Amy Hackworth October 18, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Ha! Sometimes we have no choice but to reply to ourselves! :) So glad you mentioned Eloise–definitely a classic!


6 Nicole October 18, 2012 at 2:45 pm

The House on East 88th Street and the other Lyle, Lyle Crocodile books are wonderful – we hope to make a family pilgrimage one day.


7 Amy Hackworth October 18, 2012 at 8:03 pm

Yes! Lyle is so lovable!


8 Michele October 18, 2012 at 2:46 pm

Abuela is one of our favorite books! Another fun NYC one is Subway by Christoph Niemann.


9 Amy Hackworth October 18, 2012 at 8:04 pm

So glad to hear you love Abuela! I agree, Subway is a cool book, too.


10 Kelly H. October 18, 2012 at 3:01 pm

The Knuffle Bunny series by mo Willems is a neat look at the city.


11 Amy Hackworth October 18, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Of course! Good thinking, Kelly.


12 Dani Lazar October 18, 2012 at 3:47 pm

A beautiful book about the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and how P.T. Barnum “tested” its soundness: Twenty One Elephants and Still Standing.


13 Amy Hackworth October 18, 2012 at 8:05 pm

I like this book, too, Dani. Isn’t it interesting to think people might have been nervous about using the bridge at first?


14 jenny also October 18, 2012 at 4:16 pm

I’d like to add the fun and funny Larry gets Lost in NYC


15 Amy Hackworth October 18, 2012 at 8:05 pm

I like Larry, too, jenny also. Especially darling illustrations.


16 Rich October 18, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Have you ever seen Journey Around New York from A to Z? Part of a series of travel books for kids by twin sisters…it’s really great! We also love the one about Cape Cod! Here’s a link if you’re interested:


17 Amy Hackworth October 18, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Looks like there are versions for Boston and San Francisco, too. Cute! And I love the idea of sisters collaborating on the books–how fun.


18 Nina October 18, 2012 at 9:02 pm

Good Night New York City – a board book with great, bright-colored pictures.


19 Steffanie October 18, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Maira Kalman’s Grand Central book…she is the quintessential new Yorker.


20 Lara October 19, 2012 at 4:56 am

For a bit older age, you can’t forget The Cricket in Times Square (http://www.amazon.com/Cricket-Times-Square-George-Selden/dp/0440415632) and From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler (http://www.amazon.com/From-Mixed-up-Files-Basil-Frankweiler/dp/1416949755/ref=pd_sim_b_5)! Timeless classics that capture the essence of NYC


21 Lisa October 19, 2012 at 6:15 am

Oh we have so many NYC favorites- luckily we live here!
Here are a few:
When Blue Met Egg, Lindsey Ward
The Little Red Lighthouse, Hildegarde H. Swift (We live near this!)
Subway, Christophe Niemann
The Lonely Phonebooth, Peter Ackerman
Library Lion, Michelle Knudsen
Blackout, John Rocco


22 Barchbo October 19, 2012 at 10:06 am

My favorite is This is New York by Miroslav Sasek. There is an entire series but New York is my favorite.

I second Lyle, too! One of my faves. And we just named our daughter Eloise, so I expect we will be acquiring those soon.


23 jen October 19, 2012 at 1:16 pm

Great list, Amy. I think I have a crush on Peter Sis. His illustrations always amaze me. — js


24 Brooke October 19, 2012 at 5:40 pm

How about _You Can’t Take a Balloon into the Metropolitan Museum_ by Jacqueline Preiss Weitzman and Robin Glasser?


25 Christine October 19, 2012 at 5:59 pm

We’re big “Subway” fans too… but the biggest hit in our house is “A Walk in New York” by Salvatore Rubbino. My four year old loves it so much we just re-enacted it on our most recent trip there!


26 silly eagle books October 19, 2012 at 7:20 pm

We just read Next Stop, Grand Central and loved it. Hopefully, we can find a few of these on your list at our library!


27 A Day in May Design October 21, 2012 at 2:38 pm

I’ve never seen a roundup of books about NYC for kids, this is so great! Thanks for sharing :).


28 Corina October 21, 2012 at 8:57 pm

I took my girls (13,6 and 6) to Comic Con in NYC just a week ago. They love going to the city for adventures. We have Madlenka, thank you for reminding me! One of my little ones lost a tooth. Timing could not be more perfect :-)


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