15 inclusive and multicultural toys to add to your child’s toy box
Representation matters—we know this to be true. When our children see themselves reflecting back at them in books, in movies, in the dolls they play with and the coloring pages they doodle on, they feel seen and validated. That’s why it’s important to have Hanukkah books and Diwali children’s books in children’s book bins because we know there is already a sea of stories about Christmas. And that’s why we should educate children about the dangers of ableism and work together to check our own assumptions that everyone in the room has the same abilities. When toys and activities are designed in a way that anyone and everyone can play, all children learn how to be fair and inclusive. And, they learn how much kinder and more beautiful the world is when we widen our circle to let new friends in.
Because the truth is, for far too long the toy industry was dominated by and representative of one primary group—white, non-disabled children. And that meant children who didn’t fit that niche group spent their childhood playing with dolls and toys that didn’t look like them. Thankfully, that seems to be changing as more and more toy companies are committing to creating multicultural toys that reflect the vast diversity of the world, as well as inclusive toys reflective of various disabilities, skin conditions, and illnesses that kids everywhere experience—kids who just want to play alongside everyone else.
And as parents, we of course want to see our children happily playing with dolls and reading books that help them feel seen. However, we also want to raise kids who are loving, accepting and appreciative of children who look different than they do—like children who might have a different skin tone, live in a LGBTQ family, use crutches to walk or have a cochlear implant—even, and especially, if our own children do not. It is through playing with a diverse set of toys that young kids learn about these differences and also learn that despite the unique characters that define us, we all belong and can make the world better and kinder together.
15 inclusive toys we love that celebrate diversity and help children feel seen
Cre8tive Minds• $35.99
Little kids love to dote on their babies, push them in strollers, pretend to change their diapers, and parent them just like they see their own parents doing. This adorable basket of diverse baby dolls will foster an acceptance of different ethnicities and skin tones from an early age.
Lovevery offers play kits for all ages, but do they more than that. This company also provides comprehensive disability support services that include one-on-one conversations with specialists who will help you, the parent, identify learning goals and choose the best toys and activities for your own child’s needs.
The American Girl Doll store has made it their mission to provide diversity and inclusivity among their dolls, and the Truly Me Collection does just that. Kids can search for dolls without hair, dolls with crutches, and dolls who use wheelchairs, among other choices, to find a doll who truly looks just like them.
Foster an appreciation for the diverse range of powerful women who have changed the world with this memory matching game. Kids will see the faces of women like Malala Yousafzai, Rosa Parks, and Frida Kahlo, among others, as they work their brains to find matches.
Little Biscuits• $13
We loved paper dolls as kids, and with good reason—they sparked creativity and were simply fun to play with. But imagine the impact of also providing a diverse set of options—like Koko, Enid, or Farah—as well as all the materials for creating personalized outfits. Dress-Me Notepads does just that.
Selma's Dolls• $29.99
Muslim children might struggle to find a doll who truly looks like them, which is why we love the Ameena Doll from Selma’s Dolls. She comes with her own storybook too, so kids can read and play and feel represented all at the same time.
My Family Builders• $56.95
Celebrate all types of families with this magnetic block set by My Family Builders which allows kids to build their own family, a family down the street, maybe a friend’s family, or even their classmates at school, all the while celebrating everyone’s differences.
Crocodile Creek• $22.99
The world is beautifully diverse and our children should learn about the many races, ethnicities and cultures it has to offer. Foster an appreciation for diversity and encourage your kids’ passion for international travel with this fun and engaging floor puzzle.