Why Give Kids Toys that Look Like Them

Sharing one of our favorite articles this month: proud to be a part of this conversation - representation, inclusion and diversity in toys, this is how we create change.  

Via @Mashable, Written by: Rochaun Meadows-Fernandez

Now more than ever, it’s particularly evident that children need to be exposed to diversity as young as possible. It’s a topic that can inspire hesitation among a lot of parents, but setting the foundation for inclusivity isn’t as hard as you might think. Interactive play with diverse toys can be a great method to accomplish this. 

Diversity – which is often used in tandem with inclusion – in this context refers to having access to toys that represent individuals of a range of races/ethnicities, ability statuses, and genders. There are other aspects of diversity that are more challenging to represent without backstories. For those, books are a wonderful way to introduce aspects of diversity like sexual orientation, financial class, language, neurodiversity, and mental health. 

According to psychologist Dr. Amber A. Hewitt, a specialist in gendered racial socialization, being exposed to diversity via toys has great benefits for identity development. 

“An inclusive toy box can promote positive racial/ethnic, gender, and cultural identity development for children. It’s important for children to see themselves reflected in their toys,” Hewitt explains. She explains how a lack of representation in one's toy box can send harmful messages ranging from “people who look like me don’t matter” to concerns if there are others who look like them.

In this way, diverse toys can promote inclusion by literally making members of marginalized groups more visible in a child's daily life, as well as giving children more models that reflect themselves. 

“All of the messages can impact a child’s sense of self-worth and can perpetuate stereotypes. It’s important to remember that not all of the messages that children receive are verbal. And children learn, including learning messages about identity, through play,” Hewitt says.

Read full article here.