San Francisco: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best children's books about San Francisco?

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

Our list includes chapter books. 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.

When it comes to children’s stories about San Francisco, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Al Capone Does My Shirts to popular sellers like Al Capone Does My Shoes to some of our favorite hidden gems like A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans.

We hope this list of kids books about San Francisco can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book! As you explore the list, please comment below to let us know what books you would add.

Al Capone Does My Shirts book
#1
Al Capone Does My Shirts
Written and illustrated by Gennifer Choldenko
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

A twelve-year-old boy named Moose moves to Alcatraz Island in 1935 when guards’ families were housed there, and has to contend with his extraordinary new environment in addition to life with his autistic sister Natalie. A Newbery Honor Book & ALA Notable Book. Reprint. Jr Lib Guild & Children’s BOMC.

Where Is Alcatraz? book
#2
Where Is Alcatraz?
Written by Who HQ and Nico Medina and illustrated by David Groff
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The island of Alcatraz has always been a place that’s fascinated visitors, from the Native American tribes who believed it was home to evil spirits to the Spanish explorers who discovered the island. In modern times, it was a federal prison for only 29 years, but now draws over a million visitors each year. Learn the history of America’s most famous prison, from its initial construction as a fort in the 1800s, to its most famous residents such as Al Capone and “Machine Gun” Kelly. Where Is Alcatraz? also chronicles some of the most exciting escape attempts—even one that involved chipping through stone with spoons and constructing rafts out of raincoats!

The Alcatraz Escape book
#3
The Alcatraz Escape
Written by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman and illustrated by Sarah Watts
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-14

Sleuthing duo Emily and James engage in a literary escape-room challenge on Alcatraz Island, but soon find that an invisible enemy is trying to sabotage the team at any cost.

Al Capone Throws Me a Curve book
#4
Al Capone Throws Me a Curve
Written and illustrated by Gennifer Choldenko
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Moose has his hands full during the summer of 1936 watching his autistic sister, Natalie, and the warden’s daughter, Piper, and trying to get on a baseball team by proving he knows Al Capone.

Al Capone Does My Homework book
#5
Al Capone Does My Homework
Written and illustrated by Gennifer Choldenko
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

Alcatraz Island in the 1930s isn’t the most normal place to grow up, but it’s home for Moose Flanagan, his autistic sister, Natalie, and all the families of the guards. When Moose’s dad gets promoted to Associate Warden, despite being an unlikely candidate, it’s a big deal. But the cons have a point system for targeting prison employees, and his dad is now in serious danger. After a fire starts in the Flanagan’s apartment, Natalie is blamed, and Moose bands with the other kids to track down the possible arsonist. Then Moose gets a cryptic note from the notorious Al Capone himself. Is Capone trying to protect Moose’s dad too? If Moose can’t figure out what Capone’s note means, it may be too late.

  1. Breakout! Escape from Alcatraz - An easy-to-read study of Alcatraz, “The Rock,” describes how America’s renowned prison housed some of the country’s most notorious criminals.

  2. Al Capone Does My Shoes - What do you do when your neighbors are a bunch of hit men, con men, and mad dog murderers? Well, if you’re Moose Flanagan, you ask the most notorious convict of them all, Al Capone, for help. But when that convict comes through for you-and then asks you for a favor in return-suddenly it’s a whole different ball game. Picking up where the Newbery-Honor winning Al Capone Does My Shirts left off, this lively second romp featuring Moose, his friends, and some of Alcatraz’s “finest” is just as satisfying as the first.

  3. The Children of Alcatraz - Offers a look at the life of the children who grew up on this infamous island with their families throughout its long and diverse history as a military prison, maximum security prison, and site of a Native American uprising, enhanced with period photos, interviews, and first-hand accounts.

  4. A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans - Fans of How to Train Your Dragon will love this whimsical tale, the first in a series, by a Newbery Honor winner, featuring charming illustrations and pet “training tips” in each chapter. Crusty dragon Miss Drake has a new pet human, precocious Winnie. Oddly enough, Winnie seems to think Miss Drake is her pet—a ridiculous notion! Unknown to most of its inhabitants, the City by the Bay is home to many mysterious and fantastic creatures, hidden beneath the parks, among the clouds, and even in plain sight. And Winnie wants to draw every new creature she encounters: the good, the bad, and the ugly. But Winnie’s sketchbook is not what it seems. Somehow, her sketchlings have been set loose on the city streets! It will take Winnie and Miss Drake’s combined efforts to put an end to the mayhem . . . before it’s too late. This refreshing debut collaboration by Laurence Yep, a two-time Newbery Honor winner and a Laura Ingalls Wilder Award winner, and Joanne Ryder features illustrations by Mary GrandPré.      Praise for A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans *“Warm humor, magical mishaps, and the main characters’ budding mutual respect and affection combine to give this opener for a planned series a special shine.” –Booklist, Starred “Aternately comical, suspenseful and sometimes sweetly emotional.” –Kirkus Reviews “With a black-and-white spot illustration opening most chapters, an engaging narrator, and a consistently fluid writing style, this title makes a fine dragon choice for readers.” –School Library Journal “In this series launch, Yep and Ryder conjure up a world where dragons and humans interact, and the results are heartwarming and quite funny.” –Publishers Weekly “A clever and amusing novel that imagines a magical world that nestles right up against our own and sometimes crosses over.” –The Bulleting of the Center for Children’s Books   Praise for A Dragon’s Guide to Making Your Human Smarter “Yep and Ryder keep the magic coming with their whimsical fantasy, enhanced by Grandpré’s sweet drawings. The story positively vibrates with fun.” —Kirkus Reviews “Lighthearted episodes of unusual school lessons and field trips, illustrated by GrandPré’s winsome spot art, are grounded by Miss Drake’s more serious encounters with the goons…a gratifying development as this buoyant, fantastical series continues.”—The Horn Book Review

Three Pennies book
#10
Three Pennies
Written and illustrated by Melanie Crowder
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A girl in foster care tries to find her birth mother before she loses her forever in this “tender tale” (School Library Journal, starred review) about last chances and new opportunities. For a kid bouncing from foster home to foster home, The Book of Changes is the perfect companion. That’s why Marin carries three pennies and a pocket-sized I Ching with her everywhere she goes. Yet when everything in her life suddenly starts changing—like landing in a foster home that feels like somewhere she could stay, maybe forever—the pennies don’t have any answers for her. Marin is positive that all the wrongs in her life will be made right if only she can find her birth mother and convince her that they belong together. Marin is close, oh so close—until she gets some unwelcome news and her resolve, like the uneasy earth far beneath the city of San Francisco, is shaken

Escape from Alcatraz book
#11
Escape from Alcatraz
Written and illustrated by Eric Mark Braun
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

What’s more exciting than a prison break? Frank Morris and John and Clarence Anglin escaped from Alcatraz in 1962 and have never been caught. Many authorities are certain they died crossing San Francisco Bay. Relatives claim they made it to Brazil. The theories of what happened to them are endless. Find out the facts from people who dealt with the men and the case first-hand. This is one mystery you’ll definitely want to solve.

    Did you enjoy our children's book recommendations? Did we miss one of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below!