Elizabeth Bird’s Favorite NYC Kids Books

Some of the best memories I have from childhood are of my mother lying in bed with me and reading me stories. I can remember way back when books like Pat the Bunny and Goodnight Moon were appropriate, so we’re talking decades. We had a few greatest hits, Elouise and The Chronicles of Narnia being frontrunners. That time together was pretty indelible. I’m always looking for great books I may not know about to read to my kids. We’ve put together some recommendations that are worth checking out.


Elizabeth’s Picks

Come visit the Stephen A. Schwartzman building on 5th Avenue and 42nd Street! We have, in our Children’s Center, the original Winnie-the-Pooh toys. And by that I mean that we own the toys that were owned by Christopher Robin Milne, son of A.A. Milne who wrote the Winnie-the-Pooh books. So, in a sense, we own and display the REAL Pooh. And best of all, we’re open seven days a week so anyone can see him. Here’s some of the information about him.

Here are some old picture books on New York:

by Brian Collier

A tour of the sights of Harlem, including the Metro-North Train, brownstones, shopping on 125th Street, a barber shop, summer basketball, the Boy’s Choir, and sunset over the Harlem River.

Hilary and the Lions by Frank Desaix

On her first visit to New York City, as she is walking in the streets, Hilary is separated from her parents. She falls asleep on one of the New York Public Library lions who suddenly wakes up, carries her through the city, and brings her safely back to her parents.

Abuela by Arthur Dorros

While riding on a bus with her grandmother, a little girl imagines that they are carried up into the sky and fly over the sights of New York City.

The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordecai Gerstein

A lyrical evocation of Philippe Petit’s 1974 tightrope walk between the World Trade Center towers.

The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Grey Bridge
by Hildegarde Swift

The story of a little red lighthouse on the Hudson River that was eventually overshadowed by the George Washington Bridge.

How Little Lori Visited Times Square
by Amos Vogel

A young boy sets out to see Times Square and ends up all over New York City.

And here are some new picture books about
New York:

The Curious Garden
by Peter Brown

Inspired by The High Line, this delightful tale tells a remarkably simple story of a boy and his unexpected urban garden endeavor.

Clang-clang! Beep-beep! : Listen to the City
by Robert Burleigh (illustrated by Beppe Giacobbe)

From morning until night, a city is filled with such sounds as the roars and snores of a subway ride, the flutters and coos of pigeons, and the shouts and beeps of drivers in traffic.

Cool Daddy Rat by Kristyn Crow

A young rat hides in his father’s bass case and tags along as he plays and scats around the big city.

Looking Like Me
by Walter Dean Myers, illustrated by Christopher Myers

“I looked in the mirror / and what did I see? / A real cool dude / looking just like me.” A crazed eclectic series of images accompany this fantastically cool tale of one kid discovering all his different selves and personas. Full of Brooklyn photographs.

by Christoph Niemann

Not even published yet, but this book will be huge. Based on a popular New York Times piece from 2008, Niemann discusses all the cool subway lines in New York City for those kids obsessed with the different lines.

A Trip to New York
by Salvatore Rubbino

Experience the wonders of New York as readers follow a wide-eyed boy and his dad on their walk around Manhattan, from Grand Central Terminal to the top of the Empire State Building, from Greenwich Village to the Statue of Liberty. Includes lots of facts and trivia, a gatefold of the Empire State Building, and it even includes our very own library!

Elizabeth Bird is a Senior Children’s Librarian at the New York Public Library.