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Parents' Guide to

Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day?

By Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 3+

Engaging classic makes work delightful.

Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day? Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 3+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 4+


The reason I suggest 4 years old is because that's when I find most kids can comprehend the differences between antiquated, inappropriate views held in the 60's when this was first published and modern views. For example, the dad rewards the mom for cleaning the house with a new dress. We've discussed the inappropriateness of this, and how people are working to improve on it. My youngest doesn't quite get it but my oldest has understood for over a year. It's important to me to point out and educate about these injustices and any younger doesn't seem to comprehend.
age 2+

My kid loves it; I don't

My son loves this book. He looooooves it. He wants to read it over and over, all day. I'm loathe to discourage him from reading something he loves so much, but it's retrogressive, particularly in terms of gender roles.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say: (2 ):
Kids say: Not yet rated
This is a beloved classic, richly layered with details children will enjoy and learn from for years. Scarry clears away some of the mystery about the adult world and explains the basics of how an economy works -- and makes it fun! Action-packed illustrations, crowded with familiar and funny Busytown characters, double as diagrams. A house, for example, is stripped to its frame to show the water and heating systems and wiring. A tree in the forest travels through a sawmill to become a board for Daddy Pig's bookcase, while others provide paper, boats, furniture, and fruit.
Young kids will savor the illustrations long after hearing the stories read aloud. They'll love searching for Lowly Worm and Bananas Gorilla on each spread and discovering the silly touches: the bull's-eye on the firefighters' safety net, Goldbug the cricket driving a bulldozer, a mouse swinging happily in the ship's mailroom. First published in 1968, the book shows its age with outdated occupations and passé gender stereotypes. But grown-ups can seize the chance to talk about how much has changed, and use the book as a springboard to talk about workers in our communities today.

Book Details

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