• The New York Public Library has revealed its most-borrowed books.
  • More than half are for children.
  • One title has been borrowed almost half a million times.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar might be the greatest 'bookworm' of all - he or she chewed actual holes in the book - part of the story's enduring appeal to generations of very young readers.

Eric Carle's book makes it into the newly published top-10 of the New York Public Library's most borrowed titles of all time, more than half which are aimed at young readers.

At number 1 is The Snowy Day. Published in 1962, it’s considered one of the first US children’s books to tell a story in a multicultural setting.

"At first celebrated for its bold depiction of an African American boy, then widely criticized for not being culturally specific, [The Snowy Day is now] finally regarded as a classic,” writes children's literary review The Horn Book.

The Snowy Day
New York's number 1 read.
Image: Puffin Picture Books

The New York Public Library Top 10

1. The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats (borrowed 485,583 times)

2. The Cat in the Hat, by Dr Seuss (469,650)

3. 1984, by George Orwell (441,770)

4. Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak (436,016)

5. To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee (422,912)

6. Charlotte’s Web, by EB White (337,948)

7. Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury (316,404)

8. How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie (284,524)

9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by JK Rowling (231,022)

10. The Very Hungry Caterpillar, by Eric Carle (189,550)

According to a Gallup survey, more Americans visited a library than went to the movies last year. US adults reported making on average 10.5 trips to a library in 2019 – far more than to the movies: 5.3 visits.

The same poll found women visit libraries almost twice as often as men, making an average of 13.4 visits, compared with 7.5 made by men.

What is the World Economic Forum's Book Club?

The World Economic Forum launched its official Book Club on Facebook in April 2018. Readers worldwide are invited to join and discuss a variety of books, both fiction and non-fiction. It is a private Facebook group dedicated to discussing one book every month.

Each month, we announce a new book on our social media channels. We then publish an extract and begin a chapter-by-chapter discussion with group members. Selected comments and questions are sent to the author, who in return sends us a video response.

Unlike other book clubs, the group features the direct involvement of the authors, giving you - our global audience with members all around the globe - a chance to directly connect with some of the most influential thinkers and experts in the world.

We have featured authors such as Steven Pinker, Elif Shafak, Yuval Noah Harari, and Melinda Gates.

You can join the Book Club here.

Follow us on Twitter here.

Follow us on Instagram here.

In New York, the public library system does more than just lend books. It also operates a scheme for anyone who needs to borrow something smart to wear to a formal occasion, like a wedding or a job interview. It even offers tips on how to succeed in job interviews.

Across the world, book borrowing through libraries is still immensely popular, with Tokyo leading the way – more than 100 million books are loaned out in the city every year.

books literature libraries cities
The cities where libraries are thriving.
Image: Statista

Among the books aimed at an older readership, the New York Public Library’s top 10 includes: Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury; To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee; and 1984, by George Orwell – seventh, fifth, and third in the rankings, respectively. They are all cautionary tales of authoritarian control, prejudice and tyranny.

Each of these titles has been around for six decades or more and, if the New York list is anything to go by, they’ll continue to resonate with readers for many years to come.