New York State's 2020 Great Reads from Great Places  Selection


Every year, a list of books representing the literary heritage of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands is distributed by the Library of Congress's Center for the Book during the National Book Festival. Each book is selected by a Center for the Book state affiliate or state library and most are for children and young readers. Books may be written by authors from the state, take place in the state, or celebrate the state’s culture and heritage.

For 2020 New York State has selected Jennifer Thermes' Manhattan: Mapping the Story of an Island. From before its earliest settlement to the vibrant metropolis that exists today, the island of Manhattan has always been a place of struggle, growth, and radical transformation. Humans, history, and natural events have shaped this tiny sliver of land for more than 400 years. In Manhattan, travel back in time to discover how a small rodent began an era of rapid change for the island. Learn about immigration, the slave trade, and the people who built New York City. See how a street plan projected the city’s future, and how epic fires and storms led to major feats of engineering above and below ground. Through dramatic illustrations, informative sidebars, and detailed maps inspired by historic archives, Manhattan explores the rich history that still draws people from all around the world to the island’s shores today. From The Battery downtown up to Inwood, every inch of the island has a story to tell.


 Jennifer Thermes & The Gread Read




Jennifer Thermes & KidLitTV




Maps! Explore old maps. Compare them to new maps. What’s changed?

Make your own map: of your house, a park nearby, an imaginary island.

Cause/Effect: identify some of the cause and effect relationships in the book.

Point of View: How would a beaver tell the story of the island?


Additional Reading

Picture Books and Primary Sources

2020 Great Reads List from all 50 States & Territories


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Books for Children
Photo by Claire Kelley
Great Reads from Great Places
The National Book Festival highlights children's book authors from across the United States

"As the director of the Empire State Center for the Book (the New York State affiliate for the National Center for the Book at the Library of Congress) I work with literary organizations across the United States to create a geographical selection of children's book titles for the National Book Festival last month in Washington DC.
Every year each state and territory selects a book that may have been written by an author from the state, takes place in the state or celebrates the state’s history, culture or heritage. These selections are a great way for both children and adults can come to know your home state or places far from home.  This year’s list contains both fiction, non-fiction and picture book biographies. The list also contains books from award winning and debut authors from major and independent publishers. 
Fourteen states worked with KidLit.TV who created short videos with the authors who tell us about their books, and you can find those linked below." —Rocco Staino, former school librarian and host of KidLit.TV
Texas (video)
‘Six years after Hằng is separated from her brother, she makes the brutal journey from Việt Nam to search for her brother in Texas and when she realizes he doesn’t remember her, she will do anything to bridge the gap.’
Wisconsin (video)
‘This is the inspiring story of how the Little Free Library organization brings communities together through books, from founder Todd Bol's first installation to the creation of more than 75,000 mini-libraries around the world.’
New York (video)
'Told in dazzling maps and informative sidebars, Manhattanexplores the 400+ year history of Manhattan Island that still draws people from all around the world to the island’s shores today.’
Connecticut (video)
‘Jordan Banks is enrolled in a pretigious private school, where it turns out he is one of the few kids of color. This graphic novel tells the story of being the new kid in a very different school.’
New Jersey (video)
‘Hilarity ensues when robot baby Flange comes home in component parts and his robot parents can't figure out how to put him together—until techie big sister comes to the rescue.’
Rhode Island (video)
‘Four determined homeless children make a life for themselves in Padma Venkatraman's stirring middle-grade debut.’
Arkansas (video)
‘Greek mythology meets the Kardashians in Emily Roberson's Lifestyles of Gods and Monsters, a fresh, fast-paced debut young adult novel about celebrity culture, family dynamics, and finding love amidst it all.’
Washington (video)
‘Narwhal’s obsession with his new favorite food leads him into hijinks and hilarity in the third book of this all-star early graphic novel series.’
Massachusetts (video)
‘An story about the transformative and profound power of words—short and sweet words, two-syllable treats, and multisyllable words that sound like songs.’
South Dakota (video)
‘A biography of the Lakota leader who expertly guided his people through tumultuous times as they fought and then negotiated with the U.S. government.’
Rocco Staino has served as the Director of the Empire State Center for the Book in a voluntary capacity since 2009. Under his leadership the center has created the New York State Writers Hall of Fame which recognizes writers both living and deceased for their contribution to the literary heritage of the state.  In addition to being a retired school librarian, Rocco is the past president of the New York Library Association, a contributing editor for School Library Journaland host of KidLit.TV’s StoryMakers.