What Do People Do All Day? by Richard Scarry

When you’re young and small, how the heck are you supposed to figure out what goes on in the big wide world? When you’re mostly exposed to the routines of your own family, how are you supposed to figure out what other folks are up to? By reading a book that explains what people do all day, of course. With his classic cast of animals making up Busytowns society, Richard Scarry presents a book that will teach children everything they need to know about daily life.

what do people do all day

What Is ‘What Do People Do All Day’ About?

What isn’t it about would be a better question. The book is broken up into various sections that explain just about every facet of society. Examples of section titles and subjects include:

  • Everyone is a worker.
  • Building a new house.
  • Mailing a letter.
  • A visit to the hospital.
  • The story of seeds and how they grow.

It may sound tedious (it is after all, 64 pages) but somehow Richard Scarry works the magic of Busytown and makes it fascinating. He exposes children to just about everything they’re curious about, even things they didn’t know they were curious about. There’s a trove of knowledge in this book, not just for kids, adults might find themselves learning something new as well.


The illustrations are drawn in the manner that Richard Scarry draws all of his characters-hard to describe, but familiar once you see it. Now the pictures are vital. If all Mr. Scarry did was explain day to day life and different jobs, only showing the citizens of Busytown executing each action, it would be easy to get lost when explaining more in depth things. As it is, he labels just about every item and object so that kids can track whatever is going on, and pick up a visual aid. For example, in the section ‘building a house’ the hot water heater is labeled, the furnace is labeled, the cold air return, hot air duct, fuel tank, sand, cement, bricks, mortar, water pipes are all labeled.

The way all the pictures come together is really impressive-and fascinating- in the most friendly, jolly way possible.

what do people do all day illustrations

A Word About The Abridged Version

The original version of What Do People Do All Day? Was 90 some pages long. In the abridged version, much is cut out, resulting in a book that is only 64 pages long. Why this was done, I haven’t the slightest.

Final Thoughts

I think this is a great book. I used to sneak around my neighbor’s house and spy on them when I was super young. Scarry, huh? But I was curious, insatiably so, (and obviously I didn’t understand boundaries.) Now if I had had this book, who knows, I may never have had to deal with my sixty some year old neighbor telling me to get out of his garden.

But even if you child isn’t busting out of the house and spying on the neighbors, I would recommend this book. It’s a lovely, interesting, way to teach them about the workings of the world.

We Want to Know: What Do You Do All Day?

8 Responses to “What Do People Do All Day? by Richard Scarry”

  1. Heather says:

    Busytown sounds like my life!! I am a mother, a wife, a baker, a chef, a seamstress, a laundress, a housekeeper, a private tutor, an accountant, a banker, a personal shopper, a personal taxi and an art teacher. I feel like I live in Busytown myself, but need to take time to remember that while it is a productive place to live, leaving room for fun and laughter is essential. I hope I am raising my children to wear the hats of many, just as in this book, but at the same time, to have fun and enjoy life.

  2. Kristin says:

    I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom of 3. My day is filled by __________. (Fill in the blank with your word of choice and I’ve probably done it, haha.) There is not much I haven’t done since becoming a mom. I wouldn’t change one second.

  3. Pat says:

    All day I answer to Mom, cook, chief bottle washer, wife, friend, m’am and work to be brave and kind.

  4. Rhonda says:

    CEO of Mangin Adventures. I am also constantly working on degrees in Faith , Hope and Love. Aka ….mommy of an 8 year old girl and 3 year old boy and wife to a wonderful man.

  5. Benj Vith says:

    First time I saw this book, I feel like deja vu, familiarly, I have seen it before…. YES!! I have seen it when I was young. It make me feel like I’m a little girl who full of dream. Now I’m a mom of a little boy. I hope he will grow up to be a good man and full of dream and creativity like this book.

  6. Geoff Tait says:

    Six hours.
    132 girls.
    Alice and Aroha, Farah and Francesca.
    Tall, tiny, freckles, frowns, smiles, smirks, grins, groans.
    Words, words, words.
    Poems, prose, cuplets, characters, sentences, symbols.
    Their words, their world.

  7. Marilyn Ruben says:

    I’m a Grandma! I taught in various locations for 30 years and I raised 2 daughters to be creative, artistic souls with a sense of community spirit! I always loved to read Kids’ Books to them, and it’s possible that Richard Scarry had an impact on me, because, for 50 years, I created Handmade Toy Animals. Now I have a broken Wrist that is just healing and a torn left Clavicle, so I am Painting instead of Sewing, but the subjects are often STILL “Cartoon Animals!”

    To me, Richard Scarry is “right up there” with Howard Garis (who wrote Uncle Wiggly), Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland), Grimm & Andersen (& their Fairy Tales), and oh! so many more! I must have read about “Busytown” to my Daughters and Granddaughter 100 times over! And I remember their giggles when they saw “Wiggly Worm” or “Huckle” or any of the other delightful characters.

    Also, “Busy, Busy World” is a fantastic Geography and Culture Studies book for the pre-school child! – There is none better! Using Fantasy to teach about Reality is “sheer genius!!!”

    PS – Last year, I took an Art History Class at our Community College! To my surprise, I found a classical “model” for Richard Scarry’s “Busytown!”
    Check out Lorenzetti’s “Peaceful City” (1300 A.D.),
    But it is much more fun to see a City full of quirky Animals than Humans, and the buildings are much more colorful! “Busytown Forever!”

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