Inclusivity can be taught from a very young age and these companies are doing their part to make the toy landscape a diverse one. From a doll that looks like your child to one that teaches about their medical condition, diverse toys can make us feel valued as humans and show us that there’s a whole world beyond our front door.

 

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MyFamilyBuilders

If you’ve ever had the frustration of finding dolls that look like your family (or friends!), you’ll LOVE this. Multiracial families, same-sex families, single-parent families, and adoptive families can now construct dolls that capture the beautiful reality of their households. MyFamilyBuilders is a unique, educational wooden toy that is stackable and magnetic to create the perfect doll.

Learn more: redtri.com 

photo: @iridescentphotography.htx for Mouse Loves Pig

Melanin Magic Ribbon Wands

While you might be used to seeing ribbon wands in rainbow or pastel colors, the Melanin Magic Ribbon Wands are a celebration of melanin. Kids need to see all skin tones all together all on the same toy. Each ribbon deserves a place and the rainbow would look incomplete if it were missing one.

These simple toys make a wonderful gross motor skills tool for dancing, twirling, jumping and shaking. They also make a great conversation starter for kids. "Which color are you? Which one am I? Isn't it fun that they're all together like this? Let's talk about melanin and what causes the differences in our skin."

Melanin Magic Ribbon Wands retail for $9.99. Purchases of these toys supports Brown Babes Rep Too, an organization dedicated to ensuring a diverse environment in small business advertising. 

You can find them here

Dolls with Autism, Dwarfism and Hearing Loss from Lottie Dolls

Lottie Dolls introduced a doll that was inspired by a boy with autism who loves all things having to do with astronomy. The toy comes with an astronaut-in-training jumpsuit, companion dog, noise-reducing headphones and sunglasses to reduce visual sensory overload. 

Lottie Dolls offers a number of dolls that highlight diversity, including the Mia doll, a wildlife photographer that also has a cochlear implant, and the Sinead doll, the world's first doll with dwarfism.

You can find the dolls here

Custom Dolls from Kay Customz

Crystal Kaye is the artist behind Kay Customz. Not only are Crystal’s custom dolls cute, but they’re also inclusive. She goes beyond creating dolls in a few different skin tones, and makes dolls with freckles (and not just the traditional two or three that are meant to look cute but don’t really represent what a normal person looks like freckles), vitiligo and albinism.

Read more here

More Than Peach Multicultural Crayons

When eight-year-old Bellen Woodard overheard her classmates refer to a peach crayon as the “skin-colored crayon,” something didn’t feel right. The comment made her feel “disincluded/unimportant” and she came up with an idea.

Her solution was this: “The next time I’m asked, I’ll just ask my classmates which color would they like because it could be any number of beautiful colors.” Now, Woodard is the nine-year-old founder and president of Bellen’s More Than Peach Project.

Woodard’s project and art supply kits, known as Palette Packets, include a custom sketchpad, an eight-count box of Crayola multicultural crayons, a standard 24-count box of crayons and the More than Peach letter and story for $10.99 (includes free shipping). 

Read more here

Build-a-Bear & Vermont Teddy Bear Company Amputee Bears

For kids with limb differences, Build-a-Bear and the Vermont Teddy Bear Company are there to create a bear with the same limb difference. Both offer customization that allows this treasured bear to match its owner. 

photo: Mattel

Differently-Abled Dolls from Barbie's Fashionistas Line

From a variety of different body styles to impressive new careers, Barbie has come a long way in the last couple years and she recently got a new addition that made the iconic doll even more inclusive. In early 2019, the Barbie Fashionistas line, which already includes Barbie dolls with various body types and hairstyles, unveiled two new differently-abled dolls.

The first doll is in a wheelchair and the second is fitted with a prosthetic leg. “As a brand, we can elevate the conversation around physical disabilities by including them into our fashion doll line to further showcase a multi-dimensional view of beauty and fashion,” Mattel said in a statement.

Barbie also recently updated its Dreamhouse with a wider elevator and ramp so that she can wheel herself right into the elevator. 

Read more here

Plastic Army Women from BMC Toys

Inspired by the letter from a six-year-old girl, the iconic green army men sold by BMC Toys will get an addition—women soldiers. Available in four different military poses, the army women will be available just in time for Christmas 2020.

Read more here

photo: LEGO

Audio and Braille Instructions from LEGO

LEGO believes brick building should be inclusive for everyone, which is why LEGO Audio and Braille instructions were introduced in 2019.

The idea was inspired by Matthew Shifrin who was born blind and loved to play with LEGO bricks. As a child, he had a friend, Lilya who would painstakingly write down all of the LEGO building steps so that he could upload the written directions into a system that translated them in a Braille reader. For the first time in his life, he was able to build LEGO sets entirely on his own. 

When Lilya sadly passed away Shifrin decided he wanted to share his experience with others like him. A friend from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology introduced him to the Creative Play Lab at LEGO Group and his wonderful idea was developed into the LEGO Audio and Braille instruction. 

LEGO has also introduced minifigs with different abilities and plans to launch LEGO Braille bricks later this year. 

Read more here

American Girl Truly Me Dolls

With dozens and dozens of looks to choose from in the Truly Me collection, your child can bring home an American Girl friend who brings out exactly who they are. From singing to soccer to so much more, every child can find outfits and accessories to match their interests.

Kids can even have their dolls fitted with a prosthetic leg by the company A Step Ahead Prosthetics.

Read more here

Lakeshore Learning's People with Differing Abilities

We all want our kids to be open-minded, but in order to understand other people's differences, it's important that kids see those differences first-hand—and talk about them. Lakeshore Learning's People with Differing Abilities include people with realistic details and adaptive equipment—from a girl in a wheelchair to a boy with leg braces. For younger kiddos, Lakeshore also has a "Soft and Safe" version of these toys that feature children with various disabilities.  

Available here.

Mattel's Creatable World Gender-Neutral Doll Line

Ever the play-time innovator, Mattel introduced a gender inclusive doll line—Creatable World—in late 20`19. The customizable doll kit allows kiddos to create an almost endless number of combinations. With six different skin tones available, each doll also comes with two different hairstyle options and plenty of wardrobe/accessory options for some serious styling.

Read more here

photo: Wonder Crew

Wonder Crew Boy Dolls

If you've got a superhero-loving kid who wants a doll—but not that kind of doll—Wonder Crew dolls are the perfect addition. The collection of boy dolls were designed to have the "adventure of an action figure with the emotional connection of the favorite stuffed animal." They're soft and perfect for cuddles, but they're also superheroes. What's even cooler? Each doll comes with two masks and capes: One for the doll and one for the kid who plays with it. Genius. 

Read more here

Jerry the Bear Teaches Kids about Diabetes

By taking care of Jerry's diabetes, children gain hands-on practice with counting carbs, monitoring Jerry's blood sugar and dosing Jerry with insulin. Kids care for Jerry using the virtual diabetes tools and the digital pantry in the product's app.

Follow along with Jerry's journey to train for the All Stars Games! All 21 interactive story books are paired with care tasks to reinforce important diabetes lessons. The curriculum is co-designed with doctors, educators and families to create educational content that kids love.

Learn more here.

photo: Hearts for Hearts

Hearts for Hearts Girls Dolls

Every Hearts for Hearts Girls doll represents a real girl from a real place around the world. Each girl comes with a mini-book that helps kids see how different life is for kids across the globe: Rahel, for instance, is a 10-year-old girl from Ethiopia who ventures to out of her village to bring back medical supplies that will protect her fellow villagers against malaria. Makers hope the dolls will show girls that, with a little knowledge and courage, anyone can be an agent of change in the world.

For every doll purchased, Hearts for Hearts donates $1 donation to World Vision, a humanitarian organization dedicated to helping families around the world overcome poverty. 

Available here.

photo: Crayola

Crayola “Colors of the World” Crayons

Crayola recently announced a brand new line of newly-formulated crayons that represent 40 global skin tones with the new Colors of the World collection. Colors of the World includes 24 colors that children of all ethnicities, cultures and races can use to better represent themselves through their creativity. Crayola spent over eight months researching and working with a founding partner of MAC Cosmetics, Victor Casale, who has over 30 years of experience in creating diverse foundation colors. 

Read more here

Lammily Dolls with Realistic Proportions

You know what's not empowering? Dolls with body proportions that are impossible to have in real life. That's why the makers of Lammily Dolls decided to make a collection of dolls using proportions akin to the average 19-year-old American woman. That means everything from the hands, arms and neck to the waist, legs and feet are realistic. The makers hope that playing with "normal" dolls will help young girls see their own bodies more positively (because sadly, studies show girls start worrying about their looks by age five). 

Available here.

photo: Maru and Friends

Maru and Friends Dolls Teach about Immigration

Diversity is the name of the game when it comes to this line of dolls. Maru and Friends dolls are making a statement, and it’s one that’s long overdue. These dolls are more than just pretty playthings. Maru and Friends tell the tale of life as an immigrant. And your child can learn Maru’s story, as well as what it’s like for her friends to grow up in America.

Read more here

Black, Asian, Hispanic, Multiracial & Boy Dolls from The Pattycake Doll Company

Whether you are looking for soft baby dolls for toddlers or fashion dolls for older kids, The Pattycake Doll Company has you covered. They have hundreds of doll options including Asian dolls, multicultural dolls, Hispanic dolls and more.

Check out their options here

Handmade Keepsake Dolls from HarperIman

This line of dolls and accessories was created by Cynthia Watkins and Kathryn Burnett, a mother-daughter duo, in 2017. Different skin tones, sizes and hair types are available and each doll is handmade with painstaking detail given to outfits with the ability to match a specific outfit if desired. 

Get yours here

I Never Forget a Face Memory Game

This award-winning game matches faces to countries. Twenty-four pairs of illustrated cards depict the happy faces of children from all over the world and make for a fun and educational memory game. At times challenging, the game helps sharpen recognition and memory skills. The back of the game box shows which country each child is from. 

Get yours here

photo: SunWorks

SunWorks Multicultural Construction Paper

Great for multicultural arts and crafts activities. This set includes 10 sheets of each of these five colors: Manila, Salmon, Light Brown, Brown and Dark Brown.

Get yours here

Queens of Africa Dolls

This company offers gorgeous dolls with hairstyles and clothing representing the cultures of Western Africa. You can also buy kids clothes, books and decor here.

Get yours here

—Kate Loweth

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