Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Politically Correct Richard Scarry?

We have always loved Richard Scarry books. I could almost recite Cars, Trucks and Things that Go from memory. I could even tell you where to find gold bug on each page without even having to see it. We read these books all the time. In our house any Richard Scarry book is just called a Busytown book. I often have to tell Ian that I will read him anything but a Busytown book. Sometimes it feels like I read nothing but Busytown some days.

I have found a number of old, editions from the 60's, Richard Scarry books over the years. I got a few on Ebay and I find them on used books shelves every once in awhile. I can't ever pass them up. We love them so much. I have one called What do People Do All Day?. I noticed that in the corner it says abridged edition. I always wondered why they would need to abridge a children's book. A few months back I found an even older copy at a used book store that I noticed wasn't an abridged edition. I took it home and wanted to compare the two books to see what they left out.

It was almost funny that felt like they needed to take stories out. I am sure someone must have complained but it is too bad. They took out some really great stories. They removed the story called "A Mother's work is never done". It just goes through a typical day of a mother who stays home and takes care of the home and kids. She get money from Daddy who earns his living as a painter. This is one of the stories I read as a child. I recognized the illustration of Mommy getting rid of the Octopus brush salesman. I guess this doesn't fit in with the idea that woman need to work outside the home. I like this story. It reminds me of my life. I can relate to Mommy Pig at the end of her day.

One story is about how Huckle cats family takes a plane trip. They are served by a stewadess. Were women offended by this one too?

Another missing story was one about Sergeant Murphy and his busy day as a policemen. He chases a character called Wild Bill Hiccop because he was speeding. Wild bill is has a feather headdressdrives a buffalo mobile. There is a line in the story that says " Who is the wild Indian?" I guess he should have said "who is that native american?".

They also removed the story about how cotton is grown and made into clothing. The cotton is grown by Uncle Eli who is a bunny rabbit. But I guess the Uncle part of his name is what was offensive so they removed the story.

There are two stories that I guess were removed because environmentalists complained. One is about how coal is mined and used to create electricity. The other story is about water and how we use water to make electricity. This one also teaches the water cycle and shows how a windmill helps a farmer irrigate his fields. It also shows how water is made clean for us to drink. It is sad that these two stories were removed. They are great!

I recommend finding an old unabridged edition of this particular Richard Scarry book. There are some really great stories that do teach some good things. We have used them often in our FIAR lessons about coal miners, cotton, and the water cycle. Yes these things can be found in other places but kids love Richard Scarry books. I know I did when I was a kid. My husband remembers many of these books and now I am thrilled that my kids get to read them too.

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