Particularly with many kids living in a quarantine bubble these days, it’s more important than ever to make a conscious effort to expose them to different cultures and ethnic backgrounds other than their own. In a world with social and racial unrest, we all want to raise kids that are inclusive, empathetic, and open-minded. Meeting new people in social settings is pretty limited these days, so one of the best ways to create this exposure is through multicultural toys and books that center around diversity. Here are a few ways to stock up their playrooms.
When nine-year-old Bellen Woodard, the only Black girl in her grade, had someone ask her to pass the “skin-colored” crayon, she knew they meant the peach one even though that didn’t reflect her own skin color. This box of crayons features 24 shades that represent various skin tones of people around the world — changing the conversation around which crayon color is “supposed” to represent skin tone.
Dr. Lisa, a former professor, left the academic world to write children’s books that eventually led her to create dolls that resembled the characters she wrote about. In 2017, she helped create “The Fresh Dolls,” which were developed with a range of skin tones, natural hair, and more realistic body proportions than mainstream brands. We love that each doll comes with fashion-forward clothes and they each feature a different personality that your kid can relate to. Mia, for instance, has an amazing singing voice and is a natural-born leader.
This book collection takes four classic fairy tales and gives them a multicultural spin. Snow White tries to get away from her castle in Japan. The Princess and the Pea follows the journey of a princess in Russia. Indian Rapunzel escapes her tower with her famous long hair. And, lastly, your child will see Cinderella attend a ball in Mexico. We also love that these are board books, which means it’s harder for your toddler to destroy them.
These five, squeezable figurines inspire kindness and understanding for differently-abled children. They feature kids with various adaptive equipment, from a girl with a hearing aid to a boy in a wheelchair. The soft, plastic material makes them safe for even the littlest ones — it’s never too early to introduce conversations about social awareness.
Ages 6 months+
Bella Luna Toys, a woman-owned small business, is dedicated to natural, plastic-free toys that aren’t battery-operated so that they encourage imaginative, open-ended play. This musical instrument set features authentic, Fair Trade percussion instruments crafted by village artisans around the world: Peru (the gourd scraper and wingo nut shaker), Ghana (the double bell with a striker), and Indonesia (the traditional frame drum and pair of coconut claves). It also comes with an activity guide and cards to help your kids jam along.
According to the brand, only 31% of children’s books feature a female character and only 13% feature a person of color. In this subscription service, books (curated by their team of educators and parents) are broken up into age groups starting as young as 0-2 years and going up to 7-9 years old. The content of each box depends on which age group that you’re shopping for, but a sample box can include two paperbacks or a hardcover every month that feature characters with an intersection of identities (like a story about a gender non-conforming protagonist). Plus, each box comes with coloring activities, discussion cards, and other educational material to help start casual convos about diversity with your kids.
This melanin-inspired ribbon wand is a gorgeous, visual way to teach children about the rainbow of colors that make our world complete. The ribbons are made of smooth double satin tied to an organic wooden ring that won’t break. You can choose to personalize it with your child’s name, or choose one of the preset affirmations like “Black Girl Magic” or “Flexin’ My Complexion.” With every purchase, the brand donated two dollars to Brown Babes Rep Too, an organization that supports people of color, particularly children, being featured in small business advertising.
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