Children of the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s know Richard Scarry as a kids book king. Scarry connected with readers via his characters like Huckle Cat, Lowly Worm, Gold Bug, and many others as the anthropomorphic animals lived, worked, and played in Busytown. (For a time, Scarry fans were also treated to a television show about Huckle and pals and their adventures in Busytown.) After serving in the army, Scarry worked in advertising and magazines before taking a job in book publishing, working for the Little Golden Books line, where he developed the characters and stories of Busytown. Richard Scarry books have sold more than 100 million copies around the world to date. While some of the content may seem dated to young readers of today, most of Richard Scarry’s books remain kid favorites. We have compiled this list of our favorite Richard Scarry books to bring his prolific work to the next generation!
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1. What Do People Do All Day?
Quintessential Scarry, this book takes a tour through his famous Busytown to learn how everyone from construction workers and teachers to doctors and firefighters spend their days.
Buy it: What Do People Do All Day? at Amazon
2. Cars and Trucks and Things That Go
Any vehicle-obsessed tot needs a copy of this book, on the double. The “things that go” pictured within are cars and trucks from both the real world (cement mixers and sports cars) and from Scarry’s imagination (pencil and apple cars). Goldbug is hidden in each page spread for added fun.
Buy it: Cars and Trucks and Things That Go at Amazon
3. Best Word Book Ever
In print for more than 50 years, this book has sold more than 50 million copies, making it one of the most popular books for beginning readers on the planet. Through illustrations that label everything including objects big and small, various everyday locations, numbers, and more, Scarry’s trademark characters and illustrations will keep kids returning to this classic reference again and again.
Buy it: Best Word Book Ever at Amazon
4. Funniest Storybook Ever!
There will be giggles galore as kids gobble up these silly tales starring all of Scarry’s classic Busytown characters.
Buy it: Funniest Storybook Ever! at Amazon
5. Busy, Busy Town
In this short softcover, kids get the chance to visit all the places that help Busytown stay its busy, cheerful self.
Buy it: Busy, Busy Town at Amazon
6. 100 First Words
This board book introduces babies and toddlers to 100 of the first words they need to know, each served up alongside one of Scarry’s illustrations.
Buy it: 100 First Words at Amazon
7. Best Picture Dictionary Ever
With more than 2,500 words and more than 1,000 pictures, Scarry’s friendly characters and drawings highlight the easy-to-comprehend definitions offered up by this reference book.
Buy it: Best Picture Dictionary Ever at Amazon
8. The Supermarket Mystery
Another softcover storybook, this book is perfect for the preschool set, who will love following Detectives Sam Cat and Dudley Pig as they try to solve the case of a supermarket thief.
Buy it: The Supermarket Mystery at Amazon
9. Please and Thank You Book
It’s always a good idea to get young children off to a good start when it comes to the basics of being a kind and polite citizen and friend. This little book offers gentle guidance on sharing with friends, staying safe, and behaving at school, among other things.
Buy it: Please and Thank You Book at Amazon
10. Busytown Seek and Find!
When kids are bored, the ability of this seek-and-find book touring Busytown is the best thing to keep them … yes, busy. Preschool-age kids can page through on long car trips, plane rides, or even rainy days, searching for their Scarry faves.
Buy it: Busytown Seek and Find! at Amazon
11. The Great Steamboat Mystery
Busytown detectives Sam Cat and Dudley Pig are called on to crack another case when a wedding on a steamboat is disrupted by a jewel thief. This fun story will amuse and delight beginning readers.
Buy it: The Great Steamboat Mystery at Amazon
12. Best Christmas Book Ever!
As kids count down to Christmas, this storybook can keep them feeling festive. Each story offers messages about kindness, sharing, and giving but in Scarry’s fun, not-preachy style, and featuring his beloved characters.
Buy it: Best Christmas Book Ever! at Amazon
13. Best Mother Goose Ever
Mother Goose nursery rhymes are foundational when it comes to growing young readers. This oversized Richard Scarry compendium pairs his joyous illustrations with Mother Goose’s classic poems.
Buy it: Best Mother Goose Ever at Amazon
14. Christmas Mice
This Little Golden Book edition of Scarry’s sweet Christmas story finds two tiny mice discovering all the gifts Santa left for their house’s children, but wondering if Santa left anything for them as well. Not to fear, there’s a happy ending in store.
Buy it: Christmas Mice at Amazon
15. Chipmunk’s ABC
This Little Golden Book was written by Roberta Miller but features Scarry’s illustrations. The chipmunks who lead little learners through the alphabet aren’t Busytown mainstays, but they’re cute and appealing all the same.
Buy it: Chipmunk’s ABC at Amazon
16. Busiest People Ever!
How does Busytown stay busy? With its always on-the-go population, of course. In this book, Scarry introduces readers to the behind-the-scenes action of the airport, the harbor, the farm, and the Cat household.
Buy it: Busiest People Ever! at Amazon
17. Busy, Busy World
In 33 short, fun-to-read stories, Scarry takes his readers to many famous places, from London and Paris to Egypt and Australia. The book is great for reading aloud to toddlers or as a beginning reader for travel-minded kids. (Note: Some critics cite that the book, which was published in 1965, doesn’t include many stories of South American, Asian, or African locales.)
Buy it: Busy, Busy World at Amazon
18. Best Nursery Tales Ever
Though Scarry can’t take credit for the familiar stories within these pages—The Gingerbread Man, Little Red Riding Hood, and the Three Little Pigs—his retellings coupled with his signature illustrations will keep kids returning to this volume.
Buy it: Best Nursery Tales Ever at Amazon
19. Great Big Schoolhouse
To this day, this book remains a perfect pick for kids about to enter school for the first time (or those curious about what their older siblings do at school all day). Young readers tag along as Huckle Cat takes the bus, finds his teacher Miss Honey’s classroom for the first time, learns the alphabet, and makes new friends.
Buy it: Great Big Schoolhouse at Amazon
20. Postman Pig and His Busy Neighbors
While kids today might believe texting and email are the main ways to communicate, getting mail by post is still an exciting and astonishing prospect and process. This book lets kids join Postman Pig on his route as he makes deliveries to the police station, doctor’s office, library, and more.
Buy it: Postman Pig and His Busy Neighbors at Amazon
21. Cars and Trucks
Originally published in 1959, kids won’t find many Teslas in this Richard Scarry book, but they will definitely be charmed by the array of colorful vehicles of all shapes and sizes throughout.
Buy it: Cars and Trucks at Amazon
22. I Am a Bunny
Another of Richard Scarry’s non-Busytown books, this one was written by Ole Risom and features Nicholas the bunny. This sweet, overall-wearing rabbit takes readers through the seasons as he appreciates what each one brings.
Buy it: I Am a Bunny at Amazon
23. The Night Before the Night Before Christmas!
A perfect addition to your holiday book library, this story finds Mr. Frumble so excited for Christmas, he decides to visit Santa Bear at the North Pole to become one of his helpers. But frazzled Santa Bear mixes up some dates and starts to make Christmas deliveries a day too soon! Mr. Frumble has to save the day—and the holiday—for Busytown!
Buy it: The Night Before the Night Before Christmas! at Amazon
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