Bookfilter: City stories for city kids?
September 23, 2018 12:07 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for books to read to or with my preschooler that tell stories that take place in the kinds of places he's familiar with. Basically, picture or early chapter books or graphic novels, that have plots and young child characters, and take place in a recognizably 21st century city.

A lot of the books I've read with my 4 year old that take place in a city are taking place in obviously historic setting - 60s or 70s or older.

I'd love recommendations for books where the city is recognizeable to my child, as an ordinary place where children live and not an exciting/exotic place to travel.

It doesn't matter what city or what kind of neighborhood as long as it's modern day, although it would be especially great to find books where the urban setting is not Manhattan.
posted by sputzie to Writing & Language (20 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Matt de la Pena, Last Stop on Market Street
posted by praemunire at 12:14 PM on September 23, 2018 [9 favorites]

Is Knuffle Bunny too obvious? And/or is Brooklyn too close to Manhattan? Anyway, my friends' kids love Knuffle Bunny, which is about a little girl who loses her stuffed bunny at a laundromat in Brooklyn.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:17 PM on September 23, 2018 [7 favorites]

Blackout by John Rocco
posted by soren_lorensen at 12:18 PM on September 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

CityBlock worked for us, though the plot is just "follow this cast of young children through various forms of transit."
posted by joyceanmachine at 12:25 PM on September 23, 2018

Windows by Julia Denos and E. B. Goodale
posted by Hypatia at 12:50 PM on September 23, 2018 [2 favorites]

Niblet and Ralph by Zachariah O’Hara is about two cats that live next to each other in apartment buildings. When they decide to go visit each other on the same day, their owners at first assume they are their counterpart, then go in search of their missing cats.

Beard Boy by John Flannery is about a kid who wants a cool beard like his dad. It has a lot of fun, urban neighborhood interactions in it.

Simms Tabak has a giant foldout book called City Animals that’s pretty neat (but may be out of print?)
posted by itsamermaid at 4:05 PM on September 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Oh! Mango and Bambang by Polly Faber is a short, illustrated picture book about a girl who finds a not-a-pig and makes it her friend. They’re British books but at least the first is available in the US and they have a very Madeline-ish feel.
posted by itsamermaid at 4:08 PM on September 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Beautiful Yetta: The Yiddish Chicken takes place in Brooklyn and is delightfully multilingual, but admittedly has animals as characters. (The Yiddish is transliterated. I want to say both Yiddish and Spanish have English translations, but its been a while since I've seen it.)
posted by hoyland at 4:21 PM on September 23, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seconding Blackout, which is a “save it for grandkids” level favorite here.

Symphony City by Amy Martin is lovely.
posted by tchemgrrl at 5:43 PM on September 23, 2018

I wonder if there are useful things on this list of 100 children's books set in NYC?

Here is a list of picture books that are set in urban Japan.

This list of books about cities and city life also seems promising. "For us city dwellers, it's a real relief to come across good books that reflect our lives, too: bustling neighborhoods, busy streets, concrete, traffic, sidewalks with cracks and weeds and maybe even a little trash or some dog poo on 'em. It doesn't have to be grim or depressing or teach a big lesson, but it is nice to see a story once and a while that looks like what we see from day to day. "
posted by anastasiav at 6:05 PM on September 23, 2018

One more: The 16 best kids' books about design and cities
posted by anastasiav at 6:08 PM on September 23, 2018

For when they're a little older: Walls Within Walls. We were recently in New York and our twins demanded that we go out of our way to see some of the stuff referenced in the book.
posted by togdon at 7:35 PM on September 23, 2018

Sidewalk Flowers is a beautiful, wordless picture book set in a modern city, by JonArno Lawson and illustrated by Sydney Smith. Here's a lovely book trailer from the publisher.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:37 PM on September 23, 2018

Subway by Christoph Niemann is an absolutely delightful ode to the New York Subway system. My kids had me read it so many times that I can still recite half of it by heart. "It's cold and wet. What can be done? A trip on the subway, just for fun!"

Moving away from New York, The Witch's Children And The Queen is about some London kids whose mother happens to be a witch. It's very silly and very funny. A quick glance at Amazon suggests to me that it's no longer in print, but it's worth getting a used copy.
posted by yankeefog at 1:25 AM on September 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Taxi Dog (1990). "My name is Maxi, I ride in a taxi around New York City all day!"
posted by ChuraChura at 7:37 AM on September 24, 2018

I love to read comics and graphic novels to my kindergartener and one I haven't introduced yet but soon will is The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo. They live in a city and research monster sightings and visit monster hangouts and bodegas in a big city.
posted by jillithd at 9:37 AM on September 24, 2018

City Moon!
posted by CiaoMela at 10:32 AM on September 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Sector 7 is set in NYC, and has no words, only beautiful pictures. My kids enjoyed telling and modifying and retelling the story over and over.
posted by SinAesthetic at 11:55 AM on September 24, 2018

I Got the Rhythm by Connie Schofield-Morrison
posted by spamandkimchi at 6:27 PM on September 27, 2018

Just saw a new one in the bookstore: The Lost Property Office by Emily Rand. It's about a little girl who loses a beloved teddy bear on the subway, and goes to the lost property office to retrieve it.
posted by yankeefog at 3:10 AM on October 24, 2018

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