Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day ?

( 17 )


Illus. in full color. Shows and tells what busy people do every day to build houses, sail ships, fly planes, keep house, and grow food.

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Illus. in full color. Shows and tells what busy people do every day to build houses, sail ships, fly planes, keep house, and grow food.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Positively guaranteed to please any small child."—The New Yorker.  
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780394818238
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 3/28/1968
  • Edition description: ABR
  • Pages: 64
  • Sales rank: 605
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.56 (w) x 12.86 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Richard Scarry
Richard Scarry
Thousands of children have learned to read with Richard Scarry’s busy, colorful, generous books. But Scarry has done more than help kids read. With their bright illustrations, simple text, and gentle lessons on sharing and tolerance, Scarry's stories have also helped kids grow up and relate to people around them.


"I'm not interested in creating a book that is read once and then placed on the shelf and forgotten," Richard Scarry once said. "I am very happy when people write that they have worn out my books, or that they are held together by Scotch tape. I consider that the ultimate compliment." Considering the propensity of Scarry's preschool-age readership to ask for their favorite books again and again, it's a compliment he must have received often during his tenure as one of the most popular children's authors of all time.

Scarry began his career as a freelance illustrator, drawing pictures to accompany the text of books by children’s authors such as Margaret Wise Brown, Kathryn Jackson, and Patricia Murphy (who became Patricia Scarry when she married Richard in 1949). His first two efforts at writing his own books, The Great Big Car and Truck Book (1951) and Rabbit and His Friends (1953), already suggest some of his interests as an author: travel, technology, and talking animals.

But it was the 1963 publication of Richard Scarry's Best Word Book Ever that put Scarry on bestseller lists, and established his signature style. Its densely packed pages are populated by anthropomorphic animals at work and play, in drawings that reward multiple readings with details children (and parents) may not notice at first glance. The large-format book contains over 1400 illustrated and labeled objects, along with simple introductions to concepts like sharing and helping.

In Busy, Busy World (1965), Scarry's animals star in a series of international adventures in such far-flung locales as Paris, Rome, and Algeria. Well before multiculturalism was an educational buzzword, Scarry believed he could use animals to help children imaginatively enter others' experiences. In a Publishers Weekly interview, he explained that "children can identify more closely with pictures of animals than they can with pictures of another child. They see an illustration of a blond girl or a dark-haired boy, who they know is somebody other than themselves, and competition creeps in. With imagination -- and children all have marvelous imagination -- they can easily identify with an anteater who is a painter or a goat who is an Indian."

Though Scarry soon abandoned exotic settings in favor of the fictional Busytown, he continued to illustrate different roles in society with cherubic critters like Postman Pig, Huckle Cat, Sergeant Murphy, and Lowly Worm. Once he had developed a cast of characters, he introduced them into everything from picture dictionaries and activity books to mystery stories and manners lessons.

Scarry's books, which have sold over 100 million copies and been translated into 30 languages, always reflected his own curiosity about the world. "Wherever I go, I'm watching," he liked to say. "Even on vacation, when I'm in an airport or a railroad station, I look around, snap pictures, and find out how people do things." In relating his discoveries to children, he expanded not only their vocabularies, but their understanding of the "busy world" as a social community in which people work, play, cooperate and share.

Good To Know

From 1941 through 1946, Scarry served in the U.S. Army. The army, he joked, "thought I would make a good radio repairman. My exam mark was minus 13, so they decided to make me a corporal." Scarry wound up as an art director for the Morale Services Section, and eventually rose to the rank of captain.

Richard Scarry's son Huck Scarry is also a writer and illustrator of children's books, including some new additions to the Busytown series. His nickname matches that of the title character in one of his father's favorite books, Huckleberry Finn.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Richard McClure Scarry (full name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 5, 1919
    2. Place of Birth:
      Boston, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Death:
      April 30, 1994
    2. Place of Death:
      Gstaad, Switzerland

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 17 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 17 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 11, 2009

    One of the best books for teaching reading!

    Richard Scarry's books are all wonderful, and this was one of his best! I first read this to my child almost 30 years ago. Since then it a favorite baby shower gift. There is a good chance the work Mom or Dad does is illustrated in this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2014

    This was one of my children's favorite books growing up.  We spe

    This was one of my children's favorite books growing up.  We spend hours and hours looking over all the different things that people do every day.  The illustrations are animated and adorable.  I purchased a copy for a relative who is expecting, hoping that a new generation will enjoy the creativity of Richard Scarry.

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  • Posted April 8, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:


    My son grew up loving the Richard Scarry books -we never grew tired of them. Makes a fantastic gift - I love introducing them to all little ones for the first time. Great bed time book Illustrations are amazing. Finding the worm on each page or just playing "I Spy" and having your child locate it. Each page has it's unique hustle and bustle. Many a night - we would randomly open the book and start the adventure - and never get to the next page. Could almost see the gears turning in my kids head as he imagined along with the activity before him. Great teaching book - vocabulary, colors, numbers - it's endless.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 9, 2009

    You can never go wrong with this series!

    I am just introducing my two 3-year-old grandchildren to the book series that their parents were so amused and occupied by when they were little. A book like this can keep a child entertained for hours with a story that explains a little bit about real life and has such detailed pictures. My kids have fond memories of spending some quality alone time just finding many different things to look at in this book. A real kid-pleaser. Timeless!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2009

    Excellent learning tool

    We have been "reading" the Richard Scarry books to our son since he was a year old. He is now 2yrs with the vocabulary of a 3yr old and we credit these books. The books are fun, detail rich and present endless opportunities to have everyday conversations with your child. Especially engaging for boys.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 31, 2007

    When I grow up I wanna be...

    This book gives children many ideas about what they might want to do for an occupation when they grow up. A very clever book, especially for children who don't do much traveling to see their country, or their world, for themselves.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2005

    This book was my Best Friend over 26 years ago!

    At 6 my mom got me Richard Scarry's What Do People Do all Day for Christmas. Upon opening this yellow book with the crazy cover of obviously off the wall animals, I had discovered pure happiness. The illustrator and writer of this book deserve Kudo's for a job well done. We moved around alot, and the drives would be 2-3 days at times, but this book would keep me company. Each page was a wonderful treat, and always kept me in a trance. I lost this book somehow, probably when I entered Junior High School, but I'm 32 now and am going to order another copy, not for a child but for me and my Inner Child.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2004

    The best book ever

    This is the best children´s book EVER! I got it for christmas 20 years ago after borrowing it at the library again and again and again and I still read this and other Richard Scarry books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 26, 2003

    The Best Learning Book

    About 20 years ago a neighbor bought this book for my children and they loved it! It shows how everyone should have a job. I have now bought it several times over the years for diffrent children and most recently for my grand-niece! What a great learning tool!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2002

    A Classic

    This is one of the best books I've read to my daughter. She's only 18 months and gets a kick finding the lowly worm in every page. The pictures are great and shows everything people do all day!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2002

    I have to get one for me and one for my niece!

    I remember reading this book over and over again when i was four! Being an insomniac and bibliophile since birth- richard scarry books were always my favorites! I have been searching all over the place trying to find replacements of all the things I loved as a child and I've got one thing checked off! If you have a young child you have to get this book! It is absolutely wonderful! I'm getting a copy for my niece and for myself just in case I have any children!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 2, 2001

    Wonderful book

    I remember loving this book as a child and now my 3 year old simple adores this book. The book shows what various people do in our society and how all our jobs inter-relate. The methods the workers use are somewhat outdated (there are probably not too many saw mills that still powered by water wheels), but the jobs we do are all important. I found the book a great way to discuss what mommy and daddy do at the office. It is also a great way to learn about how things are made and the steps involved in completing projects. The drawings are lots of fun and have many little details that kids may overlook, but adults will think are really funny. This is just a great book that kids really love.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2000

    Teach your kids about society!

    This is a great book, that really tells children how society works. What farmers do, what car builders do, how money moves around etc.... The wonderful thing is that everything is explained through simplified pictures; as a child, I understood how paper was made from wood (OK, it's not the real thing, but I got the idea) or how roads are laid down. And it shows how many people of many occupations cooperate and interact to create a full society. One of the great books that really taught me 30 years ago, and I'm delighted that it's still available.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 20, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2010

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