by Alison Farrell
The moment I introduced my son Finn to the world of Richard Scarry, we commenced a 3 year immersion into the goings-on of Busytown. From potty training to plane rides, Scarry’s books have traveled with us through milestones and continents. The hours we steeped in Busytown allowed me to consider why this category is special.
|Image: from Richard Scarry's Biggest Word Book Ever|
The first thing I can identify is the amount of detail on each page. Detail asks us to take time and look, and then converse about what we are seeing. While looking, we learn new words, search for repeating characters, and chuckle at the myriad of follies and vehicular misconducts that plague the town. The back and forth discussion about what we see creates a delightfully rich experience between caregiver, child, and book.
|A selection of my personal Richard Scarry collection|
The next thing I love is that my son can visually read these books on his own. I believe that the ability to be independently engrossed in a book at such a young age is empowering. Finn was able to claim ownership over his own reading, which has eventually spilled over to other books.
|Finn getting into Busytown|
Last, I love that there are multiple layers to the stories. The reader can choose to focus on the main story arc, seek-and-find characters, or labeled categories. One can easily open to any page and dive into the book.
Over the years, Finn’s interests have expanded, but his love of this busy, slow-reading, immersive-style book has stayed the same. The group is not clear cut and fairly reader dependent, but one thing that ties it together is detailed drawings. This is most often found in books with elements of:
- categories and labels
- step by step directions (how things are made, where things come from, etc.)
- books about ways of life (cities, farms etc.)
Some busy books I love that exist outside of Busytown:
Mamoko, a series by Alessandra Mizielińska and Daniel Mizielińska
Town and Country, by Alice and Martin Provensen
The Lost House, by B.B. Cronín
The Bear’s Song, series by Benjamin Chaud
Mr. Postmouse’s Rounds, by Marianne Dubuc
In the Town All Year Round, by Rotraut Susanne Berner
Anno’s Journey, and Anno’s Counting Book, and others by Mitsumasa Anno
The Airport Book, by Lisa Brown
At the Same Moment Around the World, by Clotilde Perrin
Le Coulis Rouge, by Clotilde Perrin
Have You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light
The Ultimate Book of Vehicles from Around the World, by Anne-Sophie Baumann and Didier
Where Everyday Things Come From, by Aldren Watson
Look! A Book! A Zany Seek and Find Adventure series by Bob Staake
The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy, by Beatrice Alemagna
Who Needs Donuts? By Mark Alan Stamaty
People by Peter Spier
People by Blexbolex
Do you have a favorite busy book?