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City Life And Urban Living: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about city life and urban living?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to city life and urban living. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about city life and urban living.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.

When it comes to children’s stories about city life and urban living, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Make Way for Ducklings to popular sellers like Eloise to some of our favorite hidden gems like Last Stop on Market Street.

We hope this list of kids books about city life and urban living can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!

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Top 10 Books About City Life And Urban Living

#1
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Make Way for Ducklings
Written & illustrated by Robert McCloskey
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Mrs. Mallard was sure that the pond in the Boston Public Gardens would be a perfect place for her and her eight ducklings to live. The problem was how to get them there through the busy streets of Boston. But with a little help from the Boston police, Mrs. Mallard and Jack, Kack, Lack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack arive safely at their new home.

This brilliantly illustrated, amusingly observed tale of Mallards on the move has won the hearts of generations of readers. Awarded the Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children in 1941, it has since become a favorite of millions.

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#2
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Come On, Rain
Written by Karen Hesse & illustrated by Jon J Muth
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A young girl eagerly awaits a coming rainstorm to bring relief from the oppressive summer heat.

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#3
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Florette
Written & illustrated by Anna Walker
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A 2018 New York Times and New York Public Library Best Illustrated Picture Book

When Mae’s family moves to a new home, she wishes she could bring her garden with her. She’ll miss the apple trees, the daffodils, and chasing butterflies in the wavy grass. But there’s no room for a garden in the city. Or is there?

Mae’s story, gorgeously illustrated in watercolor, is a celebration of friendship, resilience in the face of change, and the magic of the natural world.

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#4
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The Curious Garden
Written & illustrated by Peter Brown
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

One boy’s quest for a greener world… one garden at a time. While out exploring one day, a little boy named Liam discovers a struggling garden and decides to take care of it. As time passes, the garden spreads throughout the dark, gray city, transforming it into a lush, green world. This is an enchanting tale with environmental themes and breathtaking illustrations that become more vibrant as the garden blooms. Red-headed Liam can also be spotted on every page, adding a clever seek-and-find element to this captivating picture book.

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#5
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Supertruck
Written & illustrated by Stephen Savage
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

When the city is hit by a colossal snowstorm, only one superhero can save the day. But who is this mysterious hero, and why does he disappear once his job is done? Find out in this snowy tale about a little truck with a very big job, the second of Steve Savage’s vehicle-based picturebooks.

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#6
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The Bear's Garden
Written by Marcie Colleen & illustrated by Alison Oliver
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Inspired by the true story of a community garden in Brooklyn, New York, The Bear’s Garden by Marcie Colleen is a testament to how imagination and dedication can transform communities and create beauty for everyone in unexpected places.

A little girl sees an empty lot in a city and imagines what it can be.

She sees a place to grow, a place to play, and a place to love.

With the help of her stuffed bear, the girl brings her community together to create a beautiful garden.

An Imprint Book

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#7
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Last Stop on Market Street
Written by Matt De La Pena & illustrated by Christian Robinson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

A young boy rides the bus across town with his grandmother and learns to appreciate the beauty in everyday things. By the author of the celebrated picture book A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis.

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#8
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A New Kind of Wild
Written & illustrated by Zara González Hoang
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

This sweet author-illustrator debut celebrates imagination, the magic of friendship, and all the different ways we make a new place feel like home.

For Ren, home is his grandmother’s little house, and the lush forest that surrounds it. Home is a place of magic and wonder, filled with all the fantastical friends that Ren dreams up. Home is where his imagination can run wild.

For Ava, home is a brick and cement city, where there’s always something to do or see or hear. Home is a place bursting with life, where people bustle in and out like a big parade. Home is where Ava is never lonely because there’s always someone to share in her adventures.

When Ren moves to Ava’s city, he feels lost without his wild. How will he ever feel at home in a place with no green and no magic, where everything is exactly what it seems? Of course, not everything in the city is what meets the eye, and as Ren discovers, nothing makes you feel at home quite like a friend.

Inspired by the stories her father told her about moving from Puerto Rico to New York as a child, Zara González Hoang’s author-illustrator debut is an imaginative exploration of the true meaning of “home.”

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#9
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Harlem Grown: How One Big Idea Transformed a Neighborhood
Written by Tony Hillery & illustrated by Jessie Hartland
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

“An inspiring picture book for youngsters with meaningful ties to the environment, sustainability, and community engagement.” —Booklist
“Hartland’s gouache illustrations wobble endearingly, colorfully capturing the children’s triumph, and the kinetic energy and colorful vibrancy of the city neighborhood.” —Publishers Weekly

Discover the incredible true story of Harlem Grown, a lush garden in New York City that grew out of an abandoned lot and now feeds a neighborhood.

Once
In a big city called New York
In a bustling neighborhood
There was an empty lot.
Nevaeh called it the haunted garden.

Harlem Grown tells the inspiring true story of how one man made a big difference in a neighborhood. After seeing how restless they were and their lack of healthy food options, Tony Hillery invited students from an underfunded school to turn a vacant lot into a beautiful and functional farm. By getting their hands dirty, these kids turned an abandoned space into something beautiful and useful while learning about healthy, sustainable eating and collaboration.

Five years later, the kids and their parents, with the support of the Harlem Grown staff, grow hundreds of pounds of fruits and vegetables a year. All of it is given to the kids and their families. The incredible story is vividly brought to life with Jessie Hartland’s “charmingly busy art” (Booklist) that readers will pore over in search of new details as they revisit this poignant and uplifting tale over and over again.

Harlem Grown is an independent, not-for-profit organization. The author’s share of the proceeds from the sale of this book go directly to Harlem Grown.

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#10
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The Dumpster Diver
Written by Janet S. Wong & illustrated by David Roberts
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Once a month–every week in the summer–Steve the electrician dons special gear and, with the help of youngsters who live in his building, dives into a dumpster seeking useful objects that they can transform into imaginative new ones.

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Table of Contents
Scroll to books about City Life And Urban Living and...

Books About City Life And Urban Living and Gardening

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The Curious Garden
Written & illustrated by Peter Brown
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

One boy’s quest for a greener world… one garden at a time. While out exploring one day, a little boy named Liam discovers a struggling garden and decides to take care of it. As time passes, the garden spreads throughout the dark, gray city, transforming it into a lush, green world. This is an enchanting tale with environmental themes and breathtaking illustrations that become more vibrant as the garden blooms. Red-headed Liam can also be spotted on every page, adding a clever seek-and-find element to this captivating picture book.

Buy book
$18.99
Bookshop
$16.14
Amazon
$14.99
Used $3.79
Prices as of Sep 25
Add to list
Florette
Written & illustrated by Anna Walker
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

A 2018 New York Times and New York Public Library Best Illustrated Picture Book

When Mae’s family moves to a new home, she wishes she could bring her garden with her. She’ll miss the apple trees, the daffodils, and chasing butterflies in the wavy grass. But there’s no room for a garden in the city. Or is there?

Mae’s story, gorgeously illustrated in watercolor, is a celebration of friendship, resilience in the face of change, and the magic of the natural world.

Buy book
$17.99
Bookshop
$15.29
Amazon
$13.69
Used $4.96
Prices as of Sep 25
Add to list
The Bear's Garden
Written by Marcie Colleen & illustrated by Alison Oliver
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Inspired by the true story of a community garden in Brooklyn, New York, The Bear’s Garden by Marcie Colleen is a testament to how imagination and dedication can transform communities and create beauty for everyone in unexpected places.

A little girl sees an empty lot in a city and imagines what it can be.

She sees a place to grow, a place to play, and a place to love.

With the help of her stuffed bear, the girl brings her community together to create a beautiful garden.

An Imprint Book

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$18.99
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$16.14
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$12.99
Used $11.49
Prices as of Sep 25
Honorable Mentions
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  1. Harlem Grown: How One Big Idea Transformed a Neighborhood - “An inspiring picture book for youngsters with meaningful ties to the environment, sustainability, and community engagement.” —Booklist
    “Hartland’s gouache illustrations wobble endearingly, colorfully capturing the children’s triumph, and the kinetic energy and colorful vibrancy of the city neighborhood.” —Publishers Weekly
    Discover the incredible true story of Harlem Grown, a lush garden in New York City that grew out of an abandoned lot and now feeds a neighborhood. Once
    In a big city called New York
    In a bustling neighborhood
    There was an empty lot.
    Nevaeh called it the haunted garden.
    Harlem Grown tells the inspiring true story of how one man made a big difference in a neighborhood. After seeing how restless they were and their lack of healthy food options, Tony Hillery invited students from an underfunded school to turn a vacant lot into a beautiful and functional farm. By getting their hands dirty, these kids turned an abandoned space into something beautiful and useful while learning about healthy, sustainable eating and collaboration. Five years later, the kids and their parents, with the support of the Harlem Grown staff, grow hundreds of pounds of fruits and vegetables a year. All of it is given to the kids and their families. The incredible story is vividly brought to life with Jessie Hartland’s “charmingly busy art” (Booklist) that readers will pore over in search of new details as they revisit this poignant and uplifting tale over and over again. Harlem Grown is an independent, not-for-profit organization. The author’s share of the proceeds from the sale of this book go directly to Harlem Grown.

  2. Thank You, Garden - From the author of the Caldecott Honor–winning picture book All the World comes an exuberant, lyrical celebration of the plants—and people—that grow and thrive in a busy community garden. A community garden unites children and neighbors in this celebration of all the things that grow there, from flowers and fruits to friendships. In the spirit of her Caldecott Honor­–winning picture book All the World, this ode to friendship, community, and working together for a better world will have young readers gathering their friends young and old to plant something together.

  3. Errol's Garden - Errol loves gardening, but he doesn’t have a proper garden. Although his home is full of beautiful plants, he longs for an outdoor space where he can grow things. A chance discovery leads to a solution, but Errol can’t do everything on his own. Luckily, help is near at hand. A heart-warming and inclusive tale about how one small boy’s dream of a garden unites a diverse community in a positive and enriching experience for everyone.

  4. The Balcony - When a little girl moves from her home to an apartment in the city, she takes her pretty plants with her and one by one they grow and bloom and change both her world and the world all around her as she makes a new friend. When your heart is open, the world is full of possibilities.

Want to see books about gardening?

Books About City Life And Urban Living and Science And Nature

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Come On, Rain
Written by Karen Hesse & illustrated by Jon J Muth
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A young girl eagerly awaits a coming rainstorm to bring relief from the oppressive summer heat.

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The Dumpster Diver
Written by Janet S. Wong & illustrated by David Roberts
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-8

Once a month–every week in the summer–Steve the electrician dons special gear and, with the help of youngsters who live in his building, dives into a dumpster seeking useful objects that they can transform into imaginative new ones.

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The Digger and the Flower
Written & illustrated by Joseph Kuefler
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From the acclaimed author/artist of Beyond the Pond and Rulers of the Playground comes a breathtaking new book with a powerful message about the environment, perfect for fans of Peter Brown’s The Curious Garden and Kadir Nelson’s If You Plant a Seed. Each day, the big trucks go to work. They scoop and hoist and push. But when Digger discovers something growing in the rubble, he sets in motion a series of events that will change him, and the city, forever. “This story contains bold graphic illustrations and a wonderful message about the environment,” proclaims Brightly.com in their article “18 Must-Read Picture Books of 2018.”

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  1. Fresh-Picked Poetry - This collection of poems takes young readers to a day at an urban farmers’ market. Who to see, what to eat, and how produce is grown—it’s all so exciting, fresh, and delicious. Readers are invited to peruse the stands and inspect vendors’ wares with poems like “Farmer Greg’s Free-Range Eggs,” “Summer Checklist,” and “Necessary Mess.” Bright and vibrant, this is the perfect guide for little ones to take with them on marketing day to inspire literacy and healthy eating.

  2. Hawk Rising - “A father red-tailed hawk hunts prey for his family in a suburban neighborhood in this thrilling, fierce, and gorgeous nonfiction picture book”–Amazon.

Books About City Life And Urban Living and Social Themes

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Last Stop on Market Street
Written by Matt De La Pena & illustrated by Christian Robinson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

A young boy rides the bus across town with his grandmother and learns to appreciate the beauty in everyday things. By the author of the celebrated picture book A Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis.

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Smoky Night
Written by Eve Bunting & illustrated by David Diaz
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Eve Bunting’s heartfelt story and David Diaz’s dramatic illustrations create a compelling child’s-eye view of urban violence. A young boy and his mother are forced to flee their apartment during a night of rioting in Los Angeles. Fires and looting force neighbors—who have always avoided one another—to come together in the face of danger and concern for their missing pets. David Diaz was awarded the Caldecott Medal for his bold acrylic paint and photo-collage illustrations.

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Tap Tap Boom Boom
Written by Elizabeth Bluemle & illustrated by G Brian Karas
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

As a thunderstorm sweeps into the city, the people of the neighborhood rush into the subway to wait out the wind and weather.

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  1. Hey, Wall - A boy takes on a community art project in order to make his neighborhood more beautiful in this empowering and inspiring picture book by Susan Verde, stunningly illustrated by award-winning artist John Parra. One creative boy. One bare, abandoned wall. One BIG idea. There is a wall in Ángel’s neighborhood. Around it, the community bustles with life: music, dancing, laughing. Not the wall. It is bleak. One boy decides to change that. But he can’t do it alone. Told in elegant verse by Susan Verde and vibrantly illustrated by John Parra, this inspiring picture book celebrates the power of art to tell a story and bring a community together.

  2. Home Sweet Neighborhood - Picture a busy avenue. Now plant trees along the boulevard, paint a mural by the empty lot, and add a community garden. Set up benches along the sidewalks and make space for kids’ chalk drawings, and you’ve set the scene for a thriving community. Placemaking—personalizing public and semi-private spaces like front yards—is a growing trend in cities and suburbs around the world, drawing people out of their homes and into conversation with one another. Kids are natural placemakers, building tree forts, drawing on sidewalks and setting up lemonade stands, but people of all ages can enjoy creative placemaking activities. From Dutch families who drag couches and tables onto sidewalks for outdoor suppers to Canadians who build little lending libraries to share books with neighbors, people can do things that make life more fun and strengthen neighborhoods. Home Sweet Neighborhood combines upbeat text, fun facts and colorful photos to intrigue and inspire readers.

  3. So Done - When best friends Tai and Mila are reunited after a summer apart, their friendship threatens to combust from the pressure of secrets, middle school, and the looming dance auditions for a new talented-and-gifted program. Fans of Renée Watson’s Piecing Me Together will love this memorable story about a complex friendship between two very different African American girls—and the importance of speaking up. Jamila Phillips and Tai Johnson have been inseparable since they were toddlers, having grown up across the street from each other in Pirates Cove, a low-income housing project. As summer comes to an end, Tai can’t wait for Mila to return from spending a month with her aunt in the suburbs. But both girls are grappling with secrets, and when Mila returns she’s more focused on her upcoming dance auditions than hanging out with Tai. Paula Chase explores complex issues that affect many young teens, and So Done offers a powerful message about speaking up. Full of ballet, basketball, family, and daily life in Pirates Cove, this memorable novel is for fans of Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish and Jason Reynolds’s Ghost.

  4. Courage - For fans of Jason Reynolds and Kwame Alexander, a poignant and timely novel about race, class, and second chances. Ever since T’Shawn’s dad died, his mother has been struggling to keep the family afloat. So when he’s offered a spot on a prestigious diving team at the local private swim club, he knows that joining would only add another bill to the pile. But T studies hard and never gets into trouble, so he thinks his mom might be willing to bear the cost… until he finds out that his older brother, Lamont, is getting released early from prison. Luckily, T’Shawn is given a scholarship, and he can put all his frustration into diving practices. But when criminal activity increases in the neighborhood and people begin to suspect Lamont, T’Shawn begins to worry that maybe his brother hasn’t left his criminal past behind after all. And he struggles to hold on to the hope that they can put the broken pieces of their damaged relationship back together.

Books About City Life And Urban Living and Lifestyles

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A New Kind of Wild
Written & illustrated by Zara González Hoang
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

This sweet author-illustrator debut celebrates imagination, the magic of friendship, and all the different ways we make a new place feel like home.

For Ren, home is his grandmother’s little house, and the lush forest that surrounds it. Home is a place of magic and wonder, filled with all the fantastical friends that Ren dreams up. Home is where his imagination can run wild.

For Ava, home is a brick and cement city, where there’s always something to do or see or hear. Home is a place bursting with life, where people bustle in and out like a big parade. Home is where Ava is never lonely because there’s always someone to share in her adventures.

When Ren moves to Ava’s city, he feels lost without his wild. How will he ever feel at home in a place with no green and no magic, where everything is exactly what it seems? Of course, not everything in the city is what meets the eye, and as Ren discovers, nothing makes you feel at home quite like a friend.

Inspired by the stories her father told her about moving from Puerto Rico to New York as a child, Zara González Hoang’s author-illustrator debut is an imaginative exploration of the true meaning of “home.”

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From My Window
Written by Otávio Júnior & illustrated by Vanina Starkoff
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

What do you see from your window? This #OwnVoices picture book from Brazil offers a first-hand view of what children growing up in the favelas of Rio de Janiero see everyday. A vibrant and diverse celebration of urban community living, brought to life by unique, colorful illustrations that juxtapose brick buildings with lush jungle plants.

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Spot & Dot
Written & illustrated by Henry Cole
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

From beloved author-illustrator Henry Cole comes the stunning follow-up to Spot, the Cat. In this beautiful wordless picture book, Spot the cat finds a dog named Dot who’s off on her own adventure through the city! In Henry Cole’s vivid wordless picture book Spot, the Cat, readers joined Spot on a journey through a city that began with him following a bird outside his window. This time, a dog named Dot draws Spot from his window. As we follow Spot and Dot on their wordless journey, we quickly realize that it’s Dot the dog who is missing this time, and Spot is trying to get her back home. We follow these two on a different journey through the city as they weave in and out of a bakery, a library, a busy park, and more. And with a surprise twist at the end, we realize that “home” for both cat and dog was never very far away. With detailed black-and-white illustrations, readers will love following Spot and Dot on their adventure and cheering for the sweet reunion at the end.

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  1. Drum City - A young boy begins banging on pots and pans in his front yard, enticing other children to join him, and before long the entire city is feeling the beat.

  2. Busy City - Built for the way babies read. Sweet, soothing books, uniquely designed for safety and convenience, Indestructibles are printed on lightweight, nontoxic paper material, easy to clean (even dishwasher safe), and 100% chew, rip, bend, and drool proof. Busy City introduces babies to the bustling city, with lots of sights and sounds to experience on every page. Delightful for babies to page through on their own or with Mom or Dad or an older sibling, this books, with its bright pictures and minimal text, is ideal for expecting parents, baby showers, or as a welcome-home gifts for a newborn.

  3. Maybe Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood - What good can a splash of color do in a community of gray? As Mira and her neighbors discover, more than you might ever imagine! Based on the true story of the Urban Art Trail in San Diego, California, Maybe Something Beautiful reveals how art can inspire transformation—and how even the smallest artists can accomplish something big. Pick up a paintbrush and join the celebration!

  4. Hidden City - A poetic book highlighting everyday nature The perfect blend of science and poetry, Hidden City demonstrates that nature can thrive anywhere, even in highly populated areas. In this graceful collection of poems, skyscrapers serve as perches for falcons, streetlights attract an insect buffet for hungry bats, and an overgrown urban lot offers shelter to both flora and fauna. Hidden City also includes engageing supplementary materials, which provide scientific information about the animals and plants featured in the book. Coupled with beautiful collage illustrations, the poems in Hidden City offer readers the perfect reminder to notice and care about their environment.

Books About City Life And Urban Living and Transportation

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Supertruck
Written & illustrated by Stephen Savage
board book
Recommend Ages: 2-6

When the city is hit by a colossal snowstorm, only one superhero can save the day. But who is this mysterious hero, and why does he disappear once his job is done? Find out in this snowy tale about a little truck with a very big job, the second of Steve Savage’s vehicle-based picturebooks.

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The Wheels on the Bus
Written & illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

The 25th anniversary edition of a beloved classic

Over a million young readers have enjoyed the wheels that go round, doors that open and shut, and people who go bumpety-bump. Today it remains as fresh and engaging as when it was first published twenty five years ago.

To celebrate the anniversary, Paul O. Zelinsky has created an all-new cover featuring twenty five, hidden 25s. Some are the number 25 and others are 25 of something in the picture. Can you find them all?

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Trashy Town Board Book
Written by Andrea Zimmerman & illustrated by Dan Yaccarino and David Clemesha
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-4

An ALA Notable Children’s Book! Now in a sturdy board book, this edition is perfect for fans of things that GO! Dump it in, smash it down, drive around the Trashy Town! Meet Mr. Gilly. He cleans up Trashy Town. There’s trash at the pizza parlor, trash at the school, and trash at every house. It’s a big job, but Mr. Gilly does it with a big truck, a big smile, and loads of style. David Clemesha and Andrea Zimmerman have created a rhythmic, repeatable refrain that will have children clamoring for repeat readings, and internationally acclaimed illustrator Dan Yaccarino’s dynamic art puts the zip in Mr. Gilly’s stride and adds style and charm to trash collection.

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  1. I Stink! - For fans of Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site and Steam Train, Dream Train comes a noisy addition to the hilarious read-aloud series from Kate and Jim McMullan, the popular creators of I’m Bad! and I’m Dirty! Now a streaming animated series! “Know what I do at night while you’re asleep? Eat your trash, that’s what!” With ten wide tires, one really big appetite, and an even bigger smell, this garbage truck’s got it all. His job? Eating your garbage and loving every stinky second of it! And you thought nighttime was just for sleeping.

  2. Supertruck - When the city is hit by a colossal snowstorm, only one superhero can save the day. But who is this mysterious hero, and why does he disappear once his job is done? Find out in this snowy tale about a little truck with a very big job, the second of Stephen Savage’s vehicle-based picture books.

Books About City Life And Urban Living and New York

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Blackout
Written & illustrated by John Rocco
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-7

When a busy family’s activities come to a halt because of a blackout, they find they enjoy spending time together and not being too busy for once.

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The Hula Hoopin' Queen
Written by Thelma Lynne Godin & illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

A spunky girl has a hula-hooping competition with her friends in Harlem, and soon everyone in the neighborhood—young and old alike—joins in on the fun.

Kameeka is confident that today she will finally beat her rival, Jamara, and become the Hula-Hoopin’ Queen of 139th Street. But then Mama reminds her that today is their neighbor Miz Adeline’s birthday, and Kameeka has a ton of chores to do to get ready for the party they are hosting. Kameeka’s disappointed to be stuck at home and can only think about the hoopin’ competition. Distracted, Kameeka accidentally ruins Miz Adeline’s birthday cake, and has to confess to her that there won’t be a cake for her special day. But then Miz Adeline’s confesses something too: she’s also got the itch—the hula-hoopin’ itch! Her fingers start snappin’. Her hips start swingin’. Soon everyone’s hips are swinging as the party spills out onto the street. The whole neighborhood’s got the itch—the hula-hoopin’ itch!

With vibrant illustrations by Vanessa Brantley-Newton, The Hula-Hoopin’ Queen is a charming celebration of family and community ties. Set in Harlem, this intergenerational story shows the importance of staying young at heart.

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How Little Lori Visited Times Square
Written by Amos Vogel & illustrated by Maurice Sendak
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

A Sendak treasure long out of print available for the first time in decades.

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  1. Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of New York City - The birdwatchers of Central Park were buzzing–a young red-tailed hawk had been spotted, would he stay? The bird they dubbed Pale Male not only stayed, he became one of New York City’s most famous residents. Pale Male and his mate built their nest near the top of one of Fifth Avenue’s swankiest apartment buildings. Nine years and 23 chicks later, Pale Male’s fame had grown so large that a CBS newsman named him Father of the Year! But Pale Male was less beloved by the residents of the building, and in 2004 the owners suddenly removed the nest–setting off an international outcry on behalf of the birds.

  2. P.S. Be Eleven - The Gaither sisters are at it again! A sequel to the Newbery Honor Book One Crazy Summer, this Coretta Scott King Award-winning novel will find a home in the hearts of readers who loved Brown Girl Dreaming and As Brave as You. After spending the summer in Oakland, California, with their mother and the Black Panthers, Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern arrive home with a newfound streak of independence. That doesn’t sit well with Big Ma, who doesn’t like the way things are changing. Neither does Delphine. Pa has a new girlfriend. Uncle Darnell comes home from Vietnam, but he’s not the same. And her new sixth-grade teacher isn’t the fun, stylish Miss Honeywell—it’s Mr. Mwila, a stern exchange teacher from Zambia. But the one thing that doesn’t change during this turbulent year is the advice that Delphine receives from her mother, who reminds her not to grow up too fast. To be eleven while she can.

  3. Old Manhattan Has Some Farms - A clever new spin on “Old MacDonald,” this fun book explores the popular trend of urban farming. From rooftop farms and gardens on Manhattan high rises to neighborhood gardens in empty lots in Atlanta to hydroponic gardens in Seattle, growing food locally has become an important part of city-dwelling life. Set to the tune of the popular children’s song, this bouncy rhyming text will get everyone reading (or singing) out loud. If you’re not comfortable singing aloud, download the free recording of the song created by popular children’s performer Caspar Babypants (aka Chris Ballew, lead singer and songwriter for the band The Presidents of the United States of America). Six North American cities are highlighted, but included in the back matter are tips and tricks on how to alter the text so you can sing about your own hometown gardens. Back matter also includes more information about the different types of gardens introduced, additional resources, and the sheet music for the song.

  4. Eloise - Meet Eloise, the precocious darling of the Plaza Hotel! Eloise is a little girl who lives at The Plaza Hotel in New York. She is not yet pretty but she is already a Person. Henry James would want to study her. Queen Victoria would recognize her as an Equal. The New York Jets would want to have her on their side. Lewis Carroll would love her (once he got over the initial shock). She knows everything about The Plaza. She is interested in people when they are not boring. She has Inner Resources. If you take her home with you, you will always be glad you did.

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Books About City Life And Urban Living and Family

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Nighttime Symphony
Written by Timbaland & illustrated by Christopher Myers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

The sounds of the city at night create a lively lullaby in this melodious bedtime story from superstar producer and musician Timbaland, Caldecott Honor–winning illustrator Christopher Myers, and Kaa Illustration! hey there, darling baby child, you’re safe in here though the storm is wild the streetlights glow through dark so deep but safe in sound you’ll go to sleep As a little boy gets ready for bed, the sounds of a wild storm echo around him, lulling him to sleep. From the crash of thunder to the pitter-patter of raindrops to the beat of passing cars, the music of the city creates a cozy bedtime soundtrack.

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Peter's Chair
Written & illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

The award-winning, classic stories about Peter and his neighborhood friends from the Caledcott Medal-winning author, Ezra Jack Keats. Peter has a new baby sister. First his father paints Peter’s old cradle pink, then his crib. Then his parents want to paint Peter’s chair! “Let’s run away, Willie,” he says to his dog. And they do. This is a gentle and reassuring story about sibling rivalry.

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The Vegetable Museum
Written & illustrated by Michelle Mulder
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Thirteen-year-old Chloë left her whole life back in Montreal, including her mom and her best friend. Now she’s stuck in Victoria with her dad and her estranged grandfather, Uli, who recently had a stroke. When Chloë agrees to help Uli look after his garden, she’s determined to find out why he and her dad didn’t speak to each other for years. For decades Uli has collected seeds from people in the community, distinct varieties that have been handed down through generations. The result is a garden full of unusual and endangered produce, from pink broccoli to blue kale to purple potatoes. But Chloë learns that the garden will soon be destroyed to make way for a new apartment complex. And the seed collection is missing! Chloë must somehow find a way to save her grandfather’s legacy

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  1. The Infamous Ratsos - A 2017 Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book Louie and Ralphie Ratso are no softies! Readers are sure to chuckle as the determined Ratso brothers’ plans to act tough go hilariously awry. Louie and Ralphie Ratso’s dad, Big Lou, always says that there are two kinds of people: those who are tough and those who are soft. Louie and Ralphie are tough, tough, tough, just like Big Lou, and they’re going to prove it. But every time they try to show just how tough they are, the Ratso brothers end up accidentally doing good deeds instead. What’ll Big Lou do when he finds out they’ve been acting like softies all over the Big City? Perfect for emerging and reluctant readers, this clever and surprisingly warmhearted chapter book shows that being tough all the time can be really tough.

  2. All of the Above - Now with a new cover! A heart-warming, transformational story about a motley group of kids whose lives are changed by a math teacher’s challenge, written by award-winning author Shelley Pearsall with interior illustrations by Caldecott Medalist Javaka Steptoe. James Harris III, Rhondell, Sharice, and Marcel are four inner city students with a quest to build the world’s largest tetrahedron. Weaving together their different personal stories, their teacher, and the community that surrounds them, award winning author Shelley Pearsall has written a vividly engaging story about math, life and good-tasting barbecue. Filled with unexpected humor, poignant characters and quiet brilliance, All of the Above is based on a true story. Bonus content includes a revised authors note with photos, resources, and more!

  3. Devils & Thieves - A thrilling new urban fantasy filled with magic and motorcycle gangs from Jennifer Rush, author of the Altered saga–perfect for fans of Beautiful Creatures. Eighteen-year-old Jemmie Carmichael has grown up surrounded by magic in the quiet town of Hawthorne, New York. In her world, magic users are called “kindled,” and Jemmie would count herself among them if only she could cast a simple spell without completely falling apart. It doesn’t help that she was also recently snubbed by Crowe, the dangerous and enigmatic leader of the Black Devils kindled motorcycle gang and the unofficial head of their turf. When the entire kindled community rolls into Hawthorne for an annual festival, a rumor begins spreading that someone is practicing forbidden magic. Then people start to go missing. With threats closing in from every side, no one can be trusted. Jemmie and Crowe will have to put aside their tumultuous history to find their loved ones, and the only thing that might save them is the very flaw that keeps Jemmie from fully harnessing her magic. For all her years of feeling useless, Jemmie may just be the most powerful kindled of all.

Books About City Life And Urban Living and City And Town Life

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Alphabet City
Written & illustrated by Stephen T. Johnson
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

The urban landscape will never look the same again. As Stephen T. Johnson demonstrates in a series of strikingly realistic pastels and watercolors, a simple sawhorse can contain the letter “A” — while lampposts alongside a highway can form a row of elegant, soaring Ys. A 1996 Caldecott Honor book, this sophisticated, wordless alphabet book is sure to appeal to young and old alike.

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Winter in the City
Written by Sue Tarsky & illustrated by Claire Lordon
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

Join the fun of finding and counting all the cars, trucks, animals, and buildings as more and more appear on a lively city walk in winter. Packed with repetition that young children love and that also helps them learn, this is an entertaining introduction to colors, numbers, and the seasons.

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Most People
Written by Michael Leannah & illustrated by Jennifer E. Morris
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

Michael Leannah wrote Most People as an antidote to the scary words and images kids hear and see every day. Jennifer Morris’s illustrations provide the perfect complement to Leannah’s words, leading us through the crowded streets of an urban day in the company of two young children. We see what they see: the hulking dude with tattoos and chains assisting an elderly lady onto the bus; the business man helping the girl who has fallen from her bike; the family showing concern for the homeless woman; all the myriad interactions of daily life. Most People is a comforting response to the dreadful news reports that surface far too often in our world today.

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  1. Country Babies Wear Plaid - Grab a picnic basket and a checkered tablecloth and join these urban tykes for a jaunt in the country. A parade of pastoral delights awaits.• From the creative team behind the hit Urban Babies Wear Black. • A winsome sequel delivers the “weekend dream” to the urban dweller.

  2. Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze - When Young Fu arrives with his mother in bustling 1920s Chungking, all he has seen of the world is the rural farming village where he has grown up. He knows nothing of city life. But the city, with its wonders and dangers, fascinates the 13-year-old boy, and he sets out to make the best of what it has to offer him. First published in 1932, Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze was one of the earliest Newbery Medal winners. Although China has changed since that time, Young Fu’s experiences are universal: making friends, making mistakes, and making one’s way in the world.

  3. And Then It Rained... And Then the Sun Came Out... - Describes how different people react to days of rain and days of hot sun.

  4. City Witch, Country Switch - Mitzi is a city witch—she likes pizza and plays, crowded subways and noisy streets. Muffletump is a country witch—she prefers hayrides and fresh air, pumpkin picking and her pet snake. When the cousins visit each other, their differences come between them. How can they solve their problem? With a spell, of course! But finding the right one isn’t so easy. The rhyming text makes this a wonderful read-aloud, while the vibrant watercolor and colored-pencil artwork contains fantastically funny details for kids to pore over.

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