Kids are like little sponges that soak up everything in the world around them. Your child might not be able to discuss the latest C-SPAN hearing just yet (and really, who can?) but in general, kids are far more perceptive and incisive than we give ‘em credit for—and they are learning everything from what they witness and what they play with. So, should you include multicultural toys in your kid’s growing collection of playthings? Absolutely. We spoke to Dr. Bethany Cook, child psychologist and author of For What It’s Worth: A Perspective on How to Survive and Thrive Parenting Ages 0-2, to better understand the role toys play in developing a child’s understanding of the world, and the message was clear—just like representation in every realm, multicultural toys matter.
“Toys from other cultures offer parents a fun and appealing way to teach their children about diversity and begin to instill in them a passion for the new and novel,” which in turn helps children “develop an understanding that there is more than one way of doing, being, thinking and playing.” Remember, too, that play is not a frivolous endeavor for children: In fact, the doctor says it plays a pivotal role in creating “positive feelings of connection” in the form of neural pathways that kids rely on “to build relationships with people and ideas that are different from them in the future.” So now that we’ve settled the ‘why’ question, let’s move onto the ‘what’: Here are some of the best multicultural toys around to help introduce your little to concepts of inclusivity and neighborly love.