New York City History for Kids: From New Amsterdam to the Big Apple

New York City History for Kids From New Amsterdam to the Big Apple

My family and I live in the suburbs of New York City. Depending on traffic I can cross into Manhattan in about 35 minutes. Of course one little fender bender on the George Washington Bridge and traffic can be backed up for HOURS. I haven’t been in traffic on the bridge (yet) but I have been stuck in traffic on the West Side Highway.

We try to get into the city as often as we can. We don’t usually go down “just because” because it costs at least $40 to park (plus tip), gas and tolls (I think the GW Bridge is up to $12 now). We tend to venture in if there is an event I was invited to attend with my family, or if we are doing “touristy” things.

We have seen many places around the city and visited many historic landmarks, but when it comes to the history of one of the world’s most famous places, we don’t know anything about it. We learned a little bit out the history of Central Park this past summer when we took a tour, but that is about it.


New York City has a rich history that spans hundreds of years. From the early Dutch colonists to the Patriots who rebelled against the British during the American Revolution, there is clearly more to the Big Apple then just big buildings and expensive restaurants.

We have several books about New York City. Most of them are photo books (coffee table books). It’s nice to look at photos of the amazing architecture. Sadly we won’t have any books that give us more information about the city.

I received a copy of a book to review called New York City History for Kids: From New Amsterdam to the Big Apple. It’s a book geared towards children (ages 9+), but as an adult I was able to read parts of the book and learn more about the city. Believe it or not adults can benefit from reading this books too.

Here is a brief overview of the book.

In this lively 400-year history, kids will read about Peter Stuyvesant and the enterprising Dutch colonists, follow the spirited patriots as they rebel against the British during the American Revolution, learn about the crimes of the infamous Tweed Ring, journey through the notorious Five Points slum with its tenements and street vendors, and soar to new heights with the Empire State Building and New York City’s other amazing skyscrapers. Along the way, they’ll stop at Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty, and many other prominent New York landmarks. With informative and fun activities, such as painting a Dutch fireplace tile or playing a game of stickball, this valuable resource includes a time line of significant events, a list of historic sites to visit or explore online, and web resources for further study, helping young learners gain a better understanding of the Big Apple’s culture, politics, and geography.study, helping young learners gain a better understanding of the Big Apple’s culture, politics, and geography.

We gave this book to our son for Christmas, along with an interesting 3D puzzle of New York City. I thought they went great together. He could learn about the history of NYC while building it too.

I was worried that the book might be written in a way that was boring or not interesting enough for my “reluctant reader” . Thankfully it is written with children in mind. The book is packed with history, famous landmarks, famous people and more but it’s written in such a way that keeps a child’s interest. Or at least it has my son’s interest. As I mention previously, he’s a reluctant reader however he loves anything and everything about New York City. I have actually seen him reading the book. I dare not mention that I saw him (he might stop reading – he’s weird that way). As long as I see him with the book in his hand from time to time I’m happy.

A lot of the illustrations in the book are old. There are a lot of maps, diagrams and drawings that are in black and white. My son even commented that he wished there were more current images and photos. I guess when kids see things like that they think about history books and that might be a turn off for some children (unless of course they are really into history).

NYC Skyline

I like that my son has been able to tell us a few things about NYC that we never knew. As a mom it makes my heart smile when we’re ad dinner and he’ll say “Did you know…” and proceed to tell us something about NYC that he read in the book. It also reminds me of how little I know about NYC. I know nothing!

The book does come with over 20+ activities that help children understand some of the historical things they are learning about in the book. Sadly my son wasn’t interested in any of the activities (at least not yet anyway). It might just be the getting over the holidays and getting back into the swing of things at school. Perhaps when they have Winter break or over the weekend he might take interest in some of them. I know one of the crafts is to make a model of Fort George. That sounds like something he might be interested in. There is also a “how to” for playing stickball. I think he might enjoy that too. From what my husband tells me his father (who was born and raised in the NYC Burrough of Queens) used to love to play stickball.

If your child or grandchild enjoys learning about history, or perhaps as a fascination with the Big Apple, you might want to consider picking up this book. It might make a great teacher resource too if you are doing any lessons on New York.

New York City History for Kids: From New Amsterdam to the Big Apple is available at many book retailer locations (both online and offline).

Empire State Building


*I received a free book copy in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and were not influenced in any way.

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About Kimberly

Kimberly Vetrano resides in the suburbs of New York City with her family and "mini zoo" consisting of five cats, a dog and a Goldfish. Kimberly is a teacher's assistant for a Kindergarten class. When she is not working or blogging, Kimberly enjoys taking photos of nature and hanging out with family and friends.