The prolific, bestselling children author Richard Scarry made updates to one of his classic kid’s book to keep up with this century.
Scarry’s “Best Word Book Ever” was published in 1963 and became a best-selling children’s book. Scarry had been illustrating children’s books since 1950, but this was his first as both author and illustrator. The book also marked the beginning of the author’s work on the “Best Ever” series.
The word book is designed to entertain children while teaching them words and numbers. It is divided into subjects on each pair of pages. Subjects range from sports to houses, with examples from all over the world.
However, probably inspired by many changes in the society, in 1991 he made a little modification to the book. The kid’s book had been edited to remove some of what became regarded as stereotypical roles for women and to refresh terminology.
At least 14 changes were made, including changing a male “policeman” to a female “police officer” on the front cover, and changing “handsome pilot” to “pilot” and “pretty stewardess” into “flight attendant.
These interesting updates of the classic kid’s book almost slipped under our noses, until Alan Taylor, a senior photo editor at The Atlantic, compared the two almost identical editions. He compared the one from 1963 with his kids’ more recent copy. Taylor then created a Flickr photoset of 12 or so pages depicting more than 25 progressive updates.
The beautiful screaming lady is now a Cat in Danger
For example, in the photo below, you can notice how the construction worker and the bass drummer were updated with yellow bows in their hair, suggesting that these professions are not ‘gender exclusive” anymore.
The book’s cover went under visible changes as well. The altered version featured more job options, with a photographer and reporter replacing a train conductor and commuter.
The pilot went from being “handsome’ to just an ordinary pilot while the pretty stewardess is now a flight attendant.
Men can prepare their own meals now.
The changes of the book were beneficial and necessary because around the time Scarry released the book in 1963, parents complained that the author was teaching stereotypes as well as words.
“Parents were saying, ‘How will we change the world if the lady cats are always in dresses?’” Dallas DiLeo, a head librarian at Carnegie’s Oakland library, told Carnegie magazine in 2002. “He was showing a very ’50s type of life,” the librarian said.
Following his great success with Best Word Book Ever, Richard Scarry went on to create a large number of other children’s books in the same style with similar animals, a similar dominance of the art over the text and even similar names, including Best First Book Ever, Best Little Word Book Ever and his last book Richard Scarry’s Biggest Word Book Ever.Various Best Ever books were adapted to video and a television series, “The Busy World of Richard Scarry,” ran on Showtime from 1993 to 1996.
All Images: flickr.com