It is now easier than ever for kids to find toys that symbolize them and their families. From a customizable doll that looks like the child it is made for to mix-and-match families that allow for many races in one family – or two dads or two moms – options in the toy industry have expanded. Sensory toys have opened the market for kids of all abilities and doll makers have included toys in wheelchairs, with hearing aids and even holding activist signs.
The Black-owned company was started by a mom of twins, who creates puzzles of Black kids in everyday life. There are also Black Lives Matter puzzles of 45 pieces.
The dolls are custom crocheted to match each recipient in 12 colors from porcelain to dark chocolate. The Black woman-owned company also makes lovey blankets to order.
Developed, owned and crafted by a Black woman in Austin, Texas, Austin Nature Works toys are eco-friendly and sustainable. Toys include wooden stackers and counters for little hands as well as eco-friendly crayons and cards for kids to learn mindfulness.
Based in the UK, the line of dolls and toys has been featured on The Voice UK, BBC One Radio and more. Families can purchase a doll with a matching backpack. Shipping to Chicago will range about $7-$10.
These culturally representative subscription boxes include STEAM products as well as projects and activities for kids ages 4-12.
Cubby Bears teach kids Spanish and English by clicking one paw or another. By learning skills for a second language early, kids are more likely to retain the language knowledge.
Cuddle + Kind dolls are mostly animals, but there is one “person” offered: the mermaid. The four mermaids – named Skye, Maya, Isla and Pearl – represent different skin colors and ethnicities. And each Cuddle+Kind purchase provides 10 meals for children in need around the world through the company’s giving partners.
The French company uses African art patterns in its Maxi Topanijungle stacking game for kids. Even better, when the coronavirus hit, the company created its own Joy Box delivery bundle for families suck inside; in it included sensory games for kids of all ages, normalizing sensory play for kids who wouldn’t typically engage.
The Fresh Dolls were developed by a Black woman and author who saw a Black girl in a toy study call other representative dolls “nasty.” The PhD from Ohio State decided to create dolls that included “authentic representations” of skin tones and body image. The Positively Perfect dolls come in varying shades and with hair that can be styled.
The mother-daughter team behind Harper Iman have hand-crafted highly sought-after dolls that come in four skin colors. The Black woman-owned company will also customize dolls to order, including hair style, skin color and curves.
Created by founder Yelitsa Jean-Charles, Healthy Roots Doll Zoe is in high demand and sold out through October. Zoe has hair that can be curled and styled using real product.
Kaplan toys for younger kids include representation of all needs and ethnicities. Check out the Friends with Special Needs figure sets for ages 18 months and older, the Our Friends puzzles feature kids of all colors and sizes and the baby dolls – from Soft Body Babies to Kaplan Kuddle Dolls – represent all children.
Puzzles, placemats and memory games recommended for ages 6 and younger depict kids of all colors in fun, playful scenes. The company was founded by a Black mom to advocate screen-free play.
Kids come in all shapes and sizes and these dolls made in Ireland represent all of them. From a doll with Dwarfism to a doll that comes with headphones inspired by a boy with autism to a doll with hearing aids, kids of all colors and abilities can find themselves in Lottie Dolls (there are boy dolls in the set, too!). A recent addition to the doll set is A Kid Activist doll, inspired by Mari Copeny, who is advocating for the children of Flint, Mich.
Melissa and Doug’s Multicultural Family Puzzle set comes as a set of six puzzles and shows families of all kinds: blended, multi-racial, many generations and of different ethnicities. The company has also rededicated its message of play with the #takebackchildhood mission, utilizing families of all kinds in its messaging and branding.
Artist Adrienne Brown-David hand draws the paper dolls, which can be downloaded, purchased in local stores or custom made to your child.
The company is built on the premise that no two families look alike. Some are multi-racial, others have two moms or two dads, and these wooden toys and puzzles “embrace diversity through play.”
Nia Ballerina has her own story and kids can join in as the Black ballerina based in the UK has a line of backpacks, ballerina music boxes and dolls.
Girls and boys can see themselves as chemists, doctors, vets, astronauts, pilots, artists or even riding the back of a dinosaur. Puzzles range from 15 to 100 pieces, and the company was created by a Black family with three children under the age of 6.
Do you love any other brands that have good representation? Tell us about them in the comments and don’t forget to check out our Talking About Race page for similar resources and content.
This post was originally published in September 2020 and is updated regularly.