Much-loved children’s author, Richard Scarry taught 'a-b-c's, colours and societal living in his wonderful world of Busytown.
Scarry's books were largely populated by animals, and in Busytown, cats wore overalls, a family of bunnies lived in a suburban home with stove top and a letterbox and pigs drove taxis. Scarry’s books were an engaging way for children to learn about occupations, relationships and social roles with bears, mice and other species depicting people.
However, in the 1960s and 70s when majority of his books were developed, parenting roles, domestic roles and particular occupations were very different to present day’s more inclusive and progressive landscape. While Scarry’s books illustrate almost all jobs as being performed by men, children of today require a more gender equal depiction of the workforce in order to combat these old-fashioned stereotypes.
Alan Taylor, a Senior Editor for the photo department of The Atlantic noticed the differences between his old editions of Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever and his children’s more recent book.
“The 1963 edition is my own, bought for me in the late 60's when I was a toddler, and read to tatters,” Taylor wrote on his Flickr page. “The 1991 edition belongs to my kids today. I was so familiar with the older one that I immediately started noticing a few differences, and so have catalogued 14 of the more interesting differences here in this collection.”
Seeing the editions side-by-side demonstrates the changes made to text and pictures to combat its original gender, racial and religious misconceptions.
As society becomes more accepting of diversity, will we see millennial editions of the popular Richard Scarry books?