Remember those beloved Richard Scarry books from when you were a kid?
Like a lot of people, I grew up reading them. And now, I read them to my kids.
<p class="image-caption"> The best! <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/debora/492404300/in/photolist-6JBc9V-6JBaTP-aEwXdN-5eGvJD-2qdqp3-aEwXbd-aEt7sk-98DPXk-58rk4v-dWKi6z-qJUUGw-5kb8vM-4PC2ro-22uPt-2tLpAj-5ac2yT-qiBMz-rjkXVc-rMBeE2-ePvHwa-7XK93n-rdj1Ni-6YEyvW-dQbvSd-pwu5fa-2Q1nWn-493nAF-yoJqh6-5fcFKS-bLVKVK-9vhQMZ-KvGDj-9mNiZ-an6TwE-o6a6by-4Ko6Ws-5WNHQ3-4qWRX8-dwKUaJ-98qmk9-cqdiNm-hW79D5-o6ivqT-bXz5md-52HG4w-6NKNwj-96Vrxs-37h3MQ-69nBRx-28gwTa" target="_blank">Photo</a> by Débora Figueiredo/Flickr.</p><p> If that doesn't ring a bell, perhaps this character from the "Busytown" series will. Classic!</p><p> <img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQ3OTU3MC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyOTY4MTkyM30.ue3fsrhEYc8bjWf5qHvcbhsx0142FF33ef6Sh1JQIEo/img.jpg?width=980" id="61d25" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="14d1ac57cc05c4d1544678bc16251919" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image"></p><p class="image-caption">Image via <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/cdevers/16616511361/in/photolist-6JBc9V-6JBaTP-aEwXdN-5eGvJD-2qdqp3-aEwXbd-aEt7sk-98DPXk-58rk4v-dWKi6z-qJUUGw-5kb8vM-4PC2ro-22uPt-2tLpAj-5ac2yT-qiBMz-rjkXVc-rMBeE2-ePvHwa-7XK93n-rdj1Ni-6YEyvW-dQbvSd-pwu5fa-2Q1nWn-493nAF-yoJqh6-5fcFKS-bLVKVK-9vhQMZ-KvGDj-9mNiZ-an6TwE-o6a6by-4Ko6Ws-5WNHQ3-4qWRX8-dwKUaJ-98qmk9-cqdiNm-hW79D5-o6ivqT-bXz5md-52HG4w-6NKNwj-96Vrxs-37h3MQ-69nBRx-28gwTa" target="_blank">Chris Devers/Flickr</a>.</p><p> Scarry was an incredibly prolific children's author and illustrator. He created <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/1994/05/03/obituaries/richard-scarry-74-children-s-book-author-and-illustrator-dies.html" target="_blank">over 250 books</a> during his career. His books were loved across the world — over 100 million were sold in many languages.<br></p><h2>But here's something you may not have known about these classics: They've been slowly changing over the years.</h2><p> Don't panic! They've been changing in a <em>good </em>way.</p><h2>Scarry started publishing books in the 1950s, when times were, well, a little different. So some of the details were quietly updated. </h2><p> Alan Taylor, a senior editor for the photo section of The Atlantic, noticed differences back in 2005 and decided to photograph them. From his <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/kokogiak/albums/1425737/with/66087367/" target="_blank">Flickr album</a>:</p><blockquote> "The 1963 edition is my own, bought for me in the late 60's when I was a toddler, and read to tatters. <strong> </strong>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."</blockquote><p> Taylor found 14 pages with differences between the original and updated versions.</p><p> <strong>Here are eight changes that reflect some of the progress society has made:</strong></p><h2>1. First up: The cover got a makeover. It might seem subtle at first glance, but look closely. </h2><p> <img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQ3OTU3MS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNDcwOTIyOH0.JmdOflzaZ7ucbBM0T_h3A0OtWk04IySN5yyd0zURtLE/img.jpg?width=980" id="93889" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5da73f1a3114a0d44a2086cdcc5e215a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image"></p><p class="image-caption"> Images via <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/kokogiak/sets/1425737/with/66087367/" target="_blank">Alan Taylor/Flickr</a>, used with permission.</p><p> The original has a woman (bunny) in the kitchen, while the updated cover has both a man and a woman (still bunnies) in the kitchen. Also: The "policeman" bear changed to a woman, and the label changed to "police officer." The word "mailman" became "letter carrier," and a female farmer was added. Oh, and we went from a cat-mom pushing the stroller to cat-dad! Progress!</p><p> (The bunny brushing its teeth in the house was changed from a boy to a girl, but I'm not gonna read into that because hopefully all bunny-kids brush their teeth, right? I mean, for the sake of their little bunny teefs!)</p><h2>2. Men can be flight attendants and women can be pilots. And, you know, they don't have to be hot.</h2><p> <img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQ3OTU3Mi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMzQwNjQ5Mn0.zBuUpoyUg0i4asfEbJ8BoY3HjJ_upnHA1B1oSN8Ef6g/img.jpg?width=980" id="b769d" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="274ac892e391d38dfda31450ce6ecddc" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image"></p><p>While the gender of each role remained the same in the newer version (which is, unfortunately, pretty legit, given the <a href="http://www.cnn.com/2011/TRAVEL/03/18/female.airline.pilots/" target="_blank">glaring lack of female pilots in real life</a>), the stereotyping was eliminated by making the "handsome pilot" more of an everyday "pilot" (raccoon?) and by turning the "pretty stewardess" into a regular flight attendant.</p><h2>3. Christmas isn't the only holiday people celebrate. </h2><p> <img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQ3OTU3My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NzM2ODQzNX0.VceT8RZyRfAJznZDs0liTJj0igN8JUS47RcEaBf94yM/img.jpg?width=980" id="4fada" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="42fb3e2ff028ad17909c98a2c59d8153" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image"></p><p>Shhhh: Don't tell the Starbucks Christmas cup haters this, but there are a lot more winter holidays than just Christmas. The newer version of the book included a menorah in the blank space to recognize those who celebrate Hanukkah.</p><h2>4. Mommy Bears are no longer expected to have breakfast prepared for Daddy Bears...</h2><p> <img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQ3OTU3NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0MjAxNDU4OH0.rNRbS7N3h2MqLK2tRvGIGB0yjE_SiMVue5xev-KNZeM/img.jpg?width=980" id="b31be" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="af2e686f4fbccbc1c8153220ac7197fb" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image"></p><p>...and the subtle change from "called to breakfast" to "goes to the kitchen to eat his breakfast" reflects that.</p><p> <em>(Side note: Do Daddy Bears realllllly want to be treated like Kid Bears by being called to a meal, where they must promptly appear? I'm thinking not.)</em></p><h2>5. Because guess what?! Dads can cook, too! (Even Dad Bunnies.)</h2><p> <img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQ3OTU3NS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxMjA4OTM2M30.nAy_d-UGTRy54ERxO-0q26OSH1GhdtTdbQpcr50eKX0/img.jpg?width=980" id="14e1c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="0e267b2720ef89bcc436a09befadc6f7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image"></p><p>And Richard Scarry's book was updated to reflect the late-20th-century realization that everyone belongs in the kitchen!</p><h2>6. Helping professions aren't just for men. </h2><p> <img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQ3OTU3Ni9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNjAxNDU2M30.4Rwa1kLsSeWFpCC1oWHyak6nBITQ9jYwn3kZwFc3iCI/img.jpg?width=980" id="cc95a" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5150d2fd311189e903b57928fe17919f" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image"></p><p>The updated version recognized that fact by changing "policeman" to "police officer" and "fireman" to "fire fighter." The ever-important job of cowboy was eliminated ( <i>sigh </i>... how many career hopes and dreams were squashed?), replaced with a gardener and a scientist, both of which are filled by female characters. Three cheers for women in STEM! Also: The milkman was replaced by a taxi driver, but I'm pretty sure that was had to do with the fact that milkman (or woman) isn't a growing occupation any longer.</p><h2>7. Regular people need rescuing, too. </h2><p> <img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQ3OTU3Ny9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNTAxNTgyMH0.gOOFBQ1AxqNcG_IUpfY9m4crGCQ8xDIYJY_yY--Ga0s/img.jpg?width=980" id="cc3b8" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d20ffc064113339c78e8420ed50f764b" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image"></p><p> The newer version did away with the "beautiful screaming lady" (<em>sigh</em>... how many career hopes and dreams ... oh, wait — none) and replaced her with a regular "cat in danger." The "jumping gentleman" label was removed altogether, and the "fireman" became a "fire fighter" again.</p><h2>8. "I" is for "ice cream" — and not stereotypical depictions of Native Americans.</h2><p> <img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTQ3OTU3OC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1NTQyOTM3M30.t1N3-_24qUPQ60mKT4cKftY8R--hEK_nwn0Xsu0rCZo/img.jpg?width=980" id="af51e" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="fe921568576050d918b8941c6bb5f1be" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image"></p><p>We're still waiting for our football teams to get with the times, but the folks behind the Richard Scarry book update eliminated the "Indian" character that was wearing stereotypical clothing.</p><h2>Yay, progress! And before you shrug and say "It's just a book," listen to this:</h2><p> Florida State University recently led "the most comprehensive <a href="https://www.fsu.edu/news/2011/05/06/gender.bias/" target="_blank">study of 20th century children's books</a> ever undertaken in the United States." As you can surely guess, they found a gender bias toward male lead characters, even in books about <em>animals — </em>books like those by Richard Scarry.</p><p> Janice McCabe, the assistant professor of sociology who led the study, wrote:</p><blockquote> "The widespread pattern of underrepresentation of females that we find supports the belief that female characters are less important and interesting than male characters. This may contribute to a sense of unimportance among girls and privilege among boys. The gender inequalities we found may be particularly powerful because they are reinforced by patterns of male-dominated characters in many other aspects of children's media, including cartoons, G-rated films, video games and even coloring books."</blockquote><h2>It's kind of cool to think these changes were made at least two and a half decades ago! That's something.</h2><p> And we need changes to keep happening! Kids should be able to read books with same-sex couples and characters who have disabilities, for example, because those are everyday occurrences and books are a great intro to the world for kids.</p><h2>Anyone else up for modernizing other classic kids' books so we can feel good about sharing them with our kids? </h2>
Keep Reading Show less