Monday, April 11, 2011

Let's Do It

A celebration of Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day? and a lament for the lack of emphasis on work in children's books. (Bat Bean Beam/Kottke)

Which rather begs my usual question: so why is it that we no longer make these kinds of books? Why is it that we have shifted our focus to how things work or how people used to work as opposed to how people work now? Is it that work is too elusive, that new economy jobs are harder to draw? Can we not deal with the fact that Alfalfa has become a derivatives trader? But work of course is far from invisible. It’s not just that we do so many of the occupations lovingly drawn by Scarry, and in more or less the same way. It’s also that people still work in manufacturing, only mostly elsewhere. We could teach our children about that, just like we teach them that everybody poops. They both seem worthy topics. And it will be fraught, of course, and the politics of it will seem hard to navigate – because they are – but that’s not a valid reason not to do it.

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