‘The Best Word Book Ever’ 1963 / 1991

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    1963 on left, 1991 on right

    1963 on left, 1991 on right

    1963 on left, 1991 on right

    1963 on top, 1991 on bottom

    1963 on top, 1991 on bottom)

    1963 on top, 1991 on bottom

    1963 on top, 1991 on bottom

    1963 on left, 1991 on right

    1963 on top, 1991 on bottom


    ‘Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever, 1963 vs 1991 editions (with revisions).  The 1963 edition is my own, bought for me in the late 60′s when I was a toddler, and read to tatters.  The 1991 edition belongs to my kids today. I was so familar with the older one that I immediately started noticing a few differences, and so have catalogued the more interesting differences here in this collection.’

    Thank you to Kokogiak

    17 comments to ‘The Best Word Book Ever’ 1963 / 1991

    • Rebecca

      I’m normally not a fan of PC revisions, but a lot of these make sense. The new wordings in the prose are clearer, and I can see where some of the updates do make the book more relevant. I don’t think many kids consider being a milkman anymore as a job choice, and the concerned bear dentist looks much friendlier than the rhino dentist. Adding the yellow ribbons to the steam roller driver and the bass drum player wasn’t worth while, but I like the male teacher and taking out the “pretty” and “handsome” to describe the pilot and stewardess (now a flight attendant.)

    • Ashen Victor

      I dont quite understand the rhino-bear dentist chage.
      What´s wrong with the rhino? That´s racist!

      Also love the new kitchen where is also the father.

    • Debi

      I loved these books as a child!

    • Jessica

      I agree the revisions and updates are all necessary and in good taste but the poor quality of the artwork on the new additions really saddens me.

    • Ben

      …And people wonder why the generations following us seem to be so dumbed-down and near-illiterate…
      Sure, replace the “milkman” career choice with something more current, but the rest of the change…? Tell me why it isn’t acceptable to refer to someone as “handsome” or “pretty”?

      If the “beautiful screaming lady” was changed to “cat in danger”, then for consistency the “brave hero” should have been changed to “small mammal in costume”, not “firefighter”. In my opinion. we need more heroes in today’s world, not fewer.

    • Styx

      Omg i have that book :)

    • Fawkes

      Isn’t it a bit revisionist to modify to this degree rather than take the time to explain to your kids about how things have changed in time? Instead, lets just act like it never happened; milk was never delivered to homes, women were always able to fight fires and police the streets and kids never, ever used to play cowboys and indians. Scariest part to me is that this was done in ’91 – a bit before the current PC movement hit its stride.

    • Nina

      I have a trilingual version of this book! It’s Ukrainian/English/French. I loved flipping through it when I was little.

    • Mona

      I’d like to see a new revision. Afterall, it’s been 20 years and a lot of things have changed. On the other hand, I’m not sure it it’s for the better. It could be a good joke tho. Tattoos and hip hop poetry?

    • Michael

      Most interestingly is to see that media production reflects social change not necessarily the direction of change.

    • Nick

      Those things never did happen if they are unremembered.

      This generation will never know the thrill of hearing one’s dad say to a foul-mouthed kid, “Watch your mouth, punk, there’s ladies and kids in here.”

    • Katherine

      Thanks so much for cataloging the changes, I find it fascinating to actually be able to see them. I’ve heard them mentioned, and heard complaints about how the book used to be, it’s really interesting to finally be able to see it. I think it would be great to have both copies, the modern copy is great for toddlers learning about the world they are moving into, the old one facinating for going over with older kids.

    • Jinx

      Even in 1968 when I first read my brothers’ copy, the book needed updating.

      But I adore Richard Scarry, and his amazing funny animals gave me hours of delight with my family as a small child. One of my few happy memories….

    • Julia

      I think if the book was not revised a lot of children would have trouble relating to it, which would be sad as it is a great format. It would be nice to think that you could have a conversation pointing out how life has changed over the decades with your children – perhaps there could be an addendum at the end of the book showing changes made for the curious children in the household.
      It was all brought home to me recently when the teenagers in our household watched the Dolly Parton movie “Nine to Five”. Although they are both very bright I was quite surprised to find that they did not follow the film although they found it quite funny. Discussing it afterwards I was quite taken aback to find the 15 year old could not understand Dolly’s job (a typist in a typing pool). Nor could either child understand why the women in the film put up with the sexist boss.

    • David

      I guess it’s politically incorrect to play cowboys and indians anymore. “He comes promptly when called to breakfast.” Why did that one need to be changed? Oh, right. We don’t teach or children manners, or let them know they should actually listen when called. Seriously, calling someone handsome and pretty is not acceptable anymore? Really? And seriously, if we’re going to be so p.c., where’s Ramadan and Kwanza, and really, where’s the yarmulke on the head of the mouse appreciating the menorah? I applaud the parents who realized that, if they’re actually reading the original book to the child, they can actually have a CONVERSATION with the child, and explain how things USED to be. It’s our history…do we choose to ignore it by erasing the words? Or do we teach future generations as to how things WERE and how they are now, and how they SHOULD be.

    • Larry

      Someone’s been watching “Free to Be You and Me” a bit too often.

    • Lottie

      Gosh! What a lot of replies! Though I am not surprised as we all love to be reminiscent of our childhoods. Fabulous book I remember it well; it was very popular here in England. Lovely & very interesting article.

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