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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 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.

When it comes to children’s stories about San Francisco, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Tiger’s Blood to popular sellers like Al Capone Does My Shirts 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!

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Three Pennies
Written & 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

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A Dragon's Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans
Written by Laurence Yep and Joanne Ryder & illustrated by Mary GrandPré
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

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.

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San Francisco
board book
Recommend Ages: 0-3

Hello, World is an exciting board book series that pairs early learning concepts with colorful, stylish illustrations of cities around the world.

From the Golden Gate Bridge to seals to cable cars, there’s no shortage of bright, bold, and interesting things to count in San Francisco. Explore numbers through the best the city has to offer in this gorgeous board book!

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The Tiger's Apprentice
Written by Laurence Yep
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-13

Soon to be an animated movie!

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A to Z Mysteries Super Edition #12: Space Shuttle Scam
Written by Ron Roy
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9
Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose tackle an out-of-this-world mystery--in the twelfth A to Z Mysteries Super Edition!
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  • Lily and the Great Quake: A San Francisco Earthquake Survival Story - Lily is a twelve-year-old Chinese American girl living in San Francisco’s Chinatown when an earthquake destroys her home and sets her neighborhood on fire. Separated from her parents, Lily must help her younger brother and neighbor escape San Francisco. As the city burns, Lily struggles to keep her group close as they face peril and racism. Will Lily be reunited with her parents and make it across the bay to the safety of Oakland? Readers can learn the real story of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake from the nonfiction backmatter in this Girls Survive story. A glossary, discussion questions, and writing prompts are also provided.

  • Al Capone Does My Shirts - 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.

  • Mike Mulligan and More: A Virginia Lee Burton Treasury -

  • The Dragon Warrior - Inspired by Chinese mythology, this high-action middle-grade fantasy follows an outcast as she embarks on a quest to prove herself–perfect for fans of Aru Shah and the End of Time and The Serpent’s Secret. As a member of the Jade Society, twelve-year-old Faryn Liu dreams of honoring her family and the gods by becoming a warrior. But the Society has shunned Faryn and her brother Alex ever since their father disappeared years ago, forcing them to train in secret. Then, during an errand into San Francisco, Faryn stumbles into a battle with a demon–and helps defeat it. She just might be the fabled Heaven Breaker, a powerful warrior meant to work for the all-mighty deity, the Jade Emperor, by commanding an army of dragons to defeat the demons. That is, if she can prove her worth and find the island of the immortals before the Lunar New Year. With Alex and other unlikely allies at her side, Faryn sets off on a daring quest across Chinatowns. But becoming the Heaven Breaker will require more sacrifices than she first realized . . . What will Faryn be willing to give up to claim her destiny? This richly woven contemporary middle-grade fantasy, full of humor, magic, and heart, will appeal to readers who love Roshani Chokshi and Sayantani DasGupta.

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Where Is Alcatraz?
Written by Nico Medina and Who HQ & 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!

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The Alcatraz Escape
Written by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman & 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.

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Al Capone Throws Me a Curve
Written & 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.

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The Unbreakable Code (The Book Scavenger series)
Written & illustrated by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-14

Could books hidden through the Book Scavenger game be linked to an arsonist’s web of destruction? Find out in the New York Times-bestselling second book in the action packed Book Scavenger series by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman.

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The Unbreakable Code
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-14

Could books hidden through Book Scavenger be linked to an arsonist’s web of destruction? Find out in Book 2 of Jennifer Bertman’s Book Scavenger series. Mr. Quisling is definitely up to something mysterious, and Emily and James are on high alert. First, there’s the coded note he drops at a book event. Then they uncover a trail of encrypted messages in Mark Twain-penned books hidden through Book Scavenger. What’s most suspicious is that each hidden book triggers a fire. As the sleuthing friends dig deeper, they discover Mr. Quisling has been hunting a legendary historical puzzle: the Unbreakable Code. This new mystery is irresistible, but Emily and James can’t ignore the signs that Mr. Quisling might be the arsonist. The clock is ticking as the fires multiply, and Emily and James race to crack the code of a lifetime. A Christy Ottaviano Book

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  • A to Z Mysteries Super Edition 1: Detective Camp - Z was just the beginning! With A to Z Mysteries(R) Super Editions, chapter book readers keep on collecting clues and solving mysteries with Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose. Now with over 8 million copies in print, this classic kid-favorite series is back with a bright new look!

    Welcome to summer camp for detectives! The kids can't wait to spend a week following clues and learning about the science of crime solving. Soon all the campers are working on a mystery. But while Dink, Josh, and Ruth Rose are figuring out their part of the puzzle, they stumble onto something suspicious. Could a real crime be happening at detective camp? Look for hidden messages inside A to Z Mysteries(R) Super Editions!

  • The Haunted Lighthouse - An infamous prison may hold a secret only the Code Busters can uncover.

    Cody, Quinn, Luke, and M.E. may all have different talents, but they share one thing in common: they love playing around with codes. In fact, they love codes so much, they have their own club, with a secret hideout and passwords that change every day. When Cody and her friends get a mysterious e-mail hinting at a treasure on Alcatraz Island, they can't wait to get started on their clue hunt. Luckily, a class trip to the prison is the perfect cover to start their search. During the tour, the club members learn that a jewel thief kept at Alcatraz may have hidden his biggest haul on the island and left a series of coded messages to find it. And solving puzzles is what the Code Busters do best! This interactive mystery features more than fifteen codes and puzzles for you to decipher along with the Code Busters, including Morse code, the tap code, LEET, and zigzag code. Answers are in the back, if you ever get stuck.

  • Book Scavenger - Just after twelve-year-old Emily and her family move to San Francisco, she teams up with new friend James to follow clues in an odd book they find, hoping to figure out its secrets before the men who attacked Emily’s hero, publisher Garrison Griswold, solve the mystery or come after the friends.

  • I Survived the San Francisco Earthquake, 1906 (I Survived #5) - The terrifying details of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake jump off the page!

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Al Capone Does My Homework
Written & 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.

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Marching With Aunt Susan
Written by Claire Rudolf Murphy & illustrated by Stacey Schuett
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-10

An inspiring story of the fight for women’s suffrage, based on the experiences of a real girl All Bessie wants is to go hiking with her father and brothers. But it’s 1896, and girls don’t get to hike. They can’t vote either, which Bessie discovers when Susan B. Anthony comes to town to help lead the campaign for women’s suffrage. Stirred to action, Bessie joins the movement and discovers that small efforts can result in small changes–and maybe even big ones. Inspired by the diary of the real Bessie Keith Pond, a ten-year-old girl who lived in California during the suffrage campaign, author Claire Rudolf Murphy and illustrator Stacey Schuett offer a thought-provoking introduction to the fight for women’s rights. A story of hope and determination, Marching with Aunt Susan reminds readers that society cannot evolve unless people–even young people–dare to take a stand

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Breakout! Escape from Alcatraz
Written by Lori Haskins & illustrated by Janet Hamlin
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

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

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Escape from Alcatraz
Written & 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.

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The Rainbow Flag: Bright, Bold, and Beautiful
Written by Michelle Millar Fisher & illustrated by Kat Kuang
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Flags are brilliant and clever works of art and design, and they bring people together under a common banner. This colorful story follows a group of friends who helped dye and sew strips of cloth to create the first Rainbow Flags for the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade in 1978.

Led by a young artist named Gilbert Baker, the friends set out to create a flag that people could march behind during the Pride Parade. They knew the flag needed to be bright, in order to be seen by everyone as they marched. It needed to be bold, to lead the crowd. And it needed to be beautiful, like the love celebrated by the parade! The result is an iconic flag that has become an international symbol of the gay pride movement.

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  • Tiger Magic -

    Tom has always been a reluctant apprentice. But since his grandmother's death, he's assisted the tiger Mr. Hu in guarding the magical phoenix egg. When the phoenix hatches prematurely, Tom faces his greatest challenge of all. The phoenix believes Tom is his mother, and suddenly it's Tom's turn to be a good teacher and parent, which is especially hard when your child has the power to destroy the earth.

    A full-blown war has erupted between evil Lord Vatten's troops and the Alliance led by Mr. Hu. Tom and his motley crew of friends are in for the battle of their lives--and the hardest part may be keeping their allies united in the fight.

    In this exciting conclusion to the Tiger's Apprentice trilogy, Laura Ingalls Wilder Award recipient and two-time Newbery Honor author Laurence Yep reveals the ultimate strength of loyalty, friendship, and family and how the true power of magic is knowing when to use it.

  • 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.

  • Shooting Kabul - "A powerful read." --Ahmed Rashid, New York Times Bestselling author of Taliban

  • Earthquake in the Early Morning - An adventure that will shake you up! That’s what Jack and Annie get when the Magic Tree House whisks them back to California in 1906. As soon as they arrive, the famous San Francisco earthquake hits the city. Can Jack and Annie save the day? Or will San Francisco be destroyed first?

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Under the Ashes
Written by Cindy Rankin
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Eleven-year-old Elizabeth “Littlebeth” Morgan would rather race the boys, chase skunks, and read about bandits than act like a lady. So her parents send her to her maiden aunt in San Francisco to be tamed and refined. But when an earthquake hits and she’s separated from her aunt, Littlebeth must use her fearless nature and quick-thinking to survive in a city that’s broken and burning.

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Tiger's Blood
Written by Laurence Yep
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

Tom hadn’t wanted the apprenticeship . . . but having accepted, he at least had to try to be worthy . . . <P> Powerful magic saves Tom’s life but weakens the Guardian of the phoenix egg, the tiger Mr. Hu. The egg can bring peace to the world – or its destruction. Only the tiger’s apprentice, Tom, can now keep the egg safe. But Tom is just a beginner at magic and is more likely to make a mistake than save the world. <P> So Tom, Mr. Hu, and their motley crew of friends flee to the underwater dragon kingdom with the egg. They soon discover that nothing is as it seems and an unstoppable evil is advancing. When the egg is stolen, Tom and his friends must risk everything to recover it. <P> In this second book of The Tiger’s Apprentice trilogy, two-time Newbery Honor author Laurence Yep returns to the magical world hidden within our own, where good and evil battle for control and the test of a friendship can decide the fate of both worlds.

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A Hitch at the Fairmont
Written by Jim Averbeck & illustrated by Nick Bertozzi
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

An intrepid boy teams up with Alfred Hitchcock himself in this rollicking mystery rife with action, adventure, intrigue, and all the flavor of film noir. After the mysterious death of his mother, eleven-year-old Jack Fair is whisked away to San Francisco’s swanky Fairmont Hotel by his wicked Aunt Edith. There, he seems doomed to a life of fetching chocolates for his aunt and her pet chinchilla. Until one night, when Aunt Edith disappears, and the only clue is a ransom note written…in chocolate? Suddenly, Jack finds himself all alone on a quest to discover who kidnapped Aunt Edith and what happened to his mother. Alone, that is, until he meets an unlikely accomplice—Alfred Hitchcock himself! The two embark on a madcap journey full of hidden doorways, secret societies, cryptic clues, sinister villains, and cinematic flair. Including an author’s note about the real Hitchcock and an appendix of film references, this “fine read” is a “love letter to all that Hitchcock stood for” (Kirkus Reviews).

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Me, Frida
Written by Amy Novesky & illustrated by David Diaz
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

Like a tiny bird in a big city, Frida Kahlo feels lost and lonely when she arrives in San Francisco with her husband, the famous artist Diego Rivera. It is the first time she has left her home in Mexico. And Frida wants to be a painter too.<p></p><br> <p></p><br> But as Frida begins to explore San Francisco on her own, she discovers more than the beauty, diversity, and exuberance of America. She finds the inspiration she needs to become one of the most celebrated artists of all time.<p></p><br> <p></p><br> <i>Me</i><i>, </i><i>Frida</i> is an exhilarating true story that encourages children to believe in themselves so they can make their own dreams soar. <p/></p>Praise for <i>Me, Frida</i><br>”The writing is lucid, the emotions are universal, and the illustrations soar. Glowing with warm, vibrant colors, the charcoal and acrylic paintings create distinctive, statuesque people within imaginatively conceived landscapes, cityscapes, and interiors.” -<i>Booklist </i>

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Hannah Is My Name
Written & illustrated by Belle Yang
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

“Based on her own immigration story, Yang’s offering is a winner — a spot-on depiction of the immigration experience in America.” — KIRKUS REVIEWS

It’s a long way from Taiwan to San Francisco, but Hannah’s family has made the journey because they want to make America their home. In America, Baba tells his daughter, people are free to say what they think, and children can grow up to be whatever they choose. As Hannah takes a new name, starts a new school, learns a new language, and adjusts to a new way of life, they all wait — and hope — for the arrival of the green cards that will assure they are finally home to stay.

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  • West from Home: Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder, San Francisco, 1915 - This fascinating firsthand account of life and travel in the early twentieth century includes 24 pages of photographs. “It is like a fairyland.” So Laura Ingalls Wilder, author of the beloved Little House series, described her 1915 voyage to San Francisco to visit her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane. Laura’s husband, Almanzo, was unable to leave their Missouri farm; her faithful letters home, vividly describing every detail of her journey, have been gathered here. Perfect for supplementary classroom or homeschool research.

  • Good Night San Francisco - Good Night San Francisco highlights the San Francisco Bay, sea lions, Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars, Lombard Street, Stow Lake, Conservatory of Flowers, Cliff House, sandy beaches, Aquarium, Exploratorium, historic ships, fishing boats, Palace of Fine Arts, <i>The Thinker</i> statue, and more. What could be more exciting for young readers than touring the fascinating city of San Francisco? Children will be lulled into a peaceful night’s sleep while visiting the city’s famous landmarks and attractions. <p/>This book is part of the bestselling Good Night Our World series, which includes hundreds of titles exploring iconic locations and exciting, child-friendly themes. <p/>Many of North America’s most beloved regions are artfully celebrated in these board books designed to soothe children before bedtime while instilling an early appreciation for North America’s natural and cultural wonders. Each book stars a multicultural group of people visiting the featured area’s attractions as rhythmic language guides children through the passage of both a single day and the four seasons while saluting the iconic aspects of each place.

  • Little Cities: San Francisco - Little ones will love exploring the museums, monuments, and more with the help of this handy guide to the city of San Francisco. Whether they’re San Francisco natives or on vacation, this board book is ideal for young children who want to learn more about this incredible city. Colorful images of famous landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge engage the attention of young readers, while fascinating facts help to engage children’s interest in their surroundings. For instance, did you know that when the Golden Gate Bridge was built, it was the longest suspension bridge in the world? Or that the city is built on more than 50 hills? This board book highlights child-friendly attractions and features fun activities for kids to do. From famous landmarks and beautiful parks, to the cable cars and amazing buildings, this board book is the perfect children’s guide to the unique attractions of San Francisco.

  • The City on the Other Side - In The City on the Other Side, a young girl stumbles into a pitched war between two fairy kingdoms, and the fate of San Francisco itself hangs in the balance!

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Earth Dragon Awakes: The San Francisco Earthquake of 1906
Written by Laurence Yep
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Over the years the earth has moved many times under San Francisco. But it has been thirty-eight years since the last strong earthquake. People have forgotten how bad it can be. But soon they will remember.

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The Children of Alcatraz
Written & illustrated by Claire Rudolf Murphy
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

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.

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