Taking a second view of everything!
The Brooklyn Public Library on November 30, 2022, will celebrate its 125th anniversary. It was in 1896, two years before Brooklyn became a part of the City of New York, that the Brooklyn Common Council passed a resolution to establish the library system. As part of the library’s efforts to commemorate the occasion, the Brooklyn Public Library released a list of the most-borrowed books over the last 125 years. It’s a fascinating list full of children’s books and classics well worth your perusal.
The second-most checked-out book in the history of the Brooklyn Public Library as of 2022 was The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. First published in 1962, the book is about a little boy named Peter who goes out in his red snow suit to explore his neighborhood after the first snow storm of the season. The book has been a children’s book favorite since its publication. The Snowy Day is notable because it was one of the first children’s books to feature a non-caricatured African-American main character. Keats, a Brooklyn native who grew up in a very diverse community, didn’t set out to make a point about race but simply drew inspiration from his experiences growing up in a place with many different ethnicities and races.
Some criticism of The Snowy Day centers around Keats’ depiction of Peter’s mother as having certain characteristics that could be construed as stereotypes. In addition, some critics openly questioned whether a white Jewish man could tell the story of a black African-American boy. Despite such criticism, the book received great reviews and even won a Caldecott Medal.
It’s fitting for the Brooklyn Public Library in that its two most-checked-out books are both the works of local Brooklyn authors. The number one book on the list is Where the Wild Things Are by Brooklyn native Maurice Sendak, which was published a year after The Snowy Day.