Browsing Richard Scarry

“Browsy” can be a very bad thing. No one likes browsy people in line at McDonald’s for instance; they’ve had the same menu for decades and people need to simply choose to have a McNasty with cheese or without and then get out of line. Ooh! And it’s frustrating being behind a browsy person at a potluck when you’ve already had to wait in a 20 minute line for food–at that point, you’ll take ANY food– but Browsy Betty over here is carefully choosing which celery cut looks freshest and slowly choosing the unbroken chips one by blessed one out of the bowl. My husband gets very browsy when he’s in the wood section of a home improvement store. He carefully examines the different grains and inspects the knots and smells each piece to make sure they didn’t misclassify their treated vs. untreated cedars. Oy.

And then browsy can be a good thing. I am browsy at bookstores… no, not browsy– delightfully and deliberately lazy and timeless sinking into the books. I also tend toward a browsy attitude when I’m at a garage or rummage sale or at the grocery store unless children are in tow: when my brood is with me, I get what I need and get out of there as fast as I can.

In children’s books, browsy is almost always a good thing. Well, when I’m reading a chapter book aloud and there’s a quick, indiscriminate sketch on a page, I tend to get mildly annoyed if a kid wants to look at it for what I deem to be too long of a time. Or if my two-year-old keeps wanting to turn BACK the page to talk about the bird or bathtub or whathaveyou… and I’m trying to push through the book just for the sake of a naptime routine, browsy isn’t a welcome word. Generally though, I encourage my children to drink in all the wonders and delights of a beautiful illustration and enjoy noticing all the details of a fun book.

Richard Scarry is the king of browsy picture books. I can’t say he’s the “best” illustrator in a purely artistic sense, but he wins the award for best, most fun details for all the pages in every book he’s produced. My children love noticing the mishaps of Huckle and counting all the bunny children or looking for Goldbug. You’ve got to get some Richard Scarry. If you like, save browsy books and bring them out only for those ‘needed’ situations:

  • In the waiting room of any kind of appointment.
  • For the potty when you just need Gilbert to relax and be distracted long enough to let it all go.
  • For any kind of outing in public where you are in a confined space and babies are frowned upon.
  • So you can escape for ten minutes and take a shower.
  • When you need to impress your inlaws with how quietly Gilbert can sit and focus on a story.
  • So you can escape for ten minutes and create a brother for Gilbert.

You get the idea. Every home shouldn’t be without special books that are kept novel in order to maximize the quiet time you get from them. I recommend Richard Scarry…


1 thought on “Browsing Richard Scarry

  1. Stacy

    I love this blog, Ellie. J would love that A to Z book. It combines 3 things he loves: Cars, Trucks, and the Alphabet! I'll have to add to the children's (please be simpler and less materialistic than last year) Christmas present list.

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