10 of the best black toys to diversify their collection

26th June 2020
Words by Anna Whitaker

As a white parent of white children, I understand the responsibility I have to raise them as well-informed allies to the black community. I also understand that toys, books and games are no replacement for real life conversations and everyday activism, but they can be great tools for starting those off.  

Representation matters and if we want our children to end up as open-minded and compassionate global citizens, we need to surround them with a mix of resources to learn about other cultures both in their homes and in real life. 

This list is just a starter for ten (and I could go on and on and on, particularly with the dolls) so if you want any more ideas or have any great suggestions, please add them in the comments below. 

1. eeBoo I Never Forget a Face Memory Game – John Lewis – £13.99 

We’re just getting into actual games here at ToyDrop, which I’m pretty excited about. They don’t last long as we have toddlers’ attention spans to contend with but I’ve just ordered this as a new one to take on holiday. It features the smiling faces of 24 children from around the world and challenges kids to remember where each of them comes from. It looks like a great way to start conversations about race and cultural differences, while they’re deep in play. The cardboard is 90% recycled too.      

2. Plan Toys Afro-American Family – Babipur – £19.96

Plan Toys have always been our go-to for ethical toys and they’re great at representing different families too. Made in the most beautiful, sustainable factory in Thailand (gagging to visit one day), this wooden set would be a perfect addition to any dolls’ house or story sack. Their little limbs move too, so you can act out any imaginary scenario with ease. The parents stand at 13cm tall. 

3. Ruben’s Barn EcoBuds – Nature’s Little Ones – £39.99 

These guys are a new discovery for me and I’m a little bit in love. Ruben’s Barn is a Swedish brand creating super soft, super quality and super loveable friends for boys and girls. Their whole ethos is about developing children’s empathy so they can become compassionate and kind adults. Sounds like exactly what we need right now. They’re all certified with the Organic Content Standard (OCS) and can be washed at 30°C.

4. Puzzle Huddle jigsaws – Puzzle Huddle – from $11.95

Puzzle Huddle is a brilliant new brand founded by an American couple with three young kids. They wanted to make sure that all children are reflected in the products we use, and play with, on the reg. So they created these amazing jigsaws, from 15 to 100 pieces, featuring characters that affirm and inspire a more diverse group of kids.  

5. Lego Ideas Women of Nasa – The Minifigure Store – £29.99

LEGO(R) figures were originally designed to be racially unbiased, with a bright yellow colour that didn’t represent a specific race or ethnic background, so wouldn’t leave anyone out. But as times have changed, and new sets have been introduced, more characters like the amazing Mae Jemison (the first African American woman in space) are available to inspire children to reach for the stars (all puns intended). She comes as part of an amazing set, which is actually discontinued but available through the link above. 

6. Woke Babies learning resources – Woke Babies – from £3.99

Not technically a toy, book or game but I was really taken with the learning resources from Woke Babies (who you’ll read more about in a mo). I was actually looking for something similar at the start of our homeschool journey but everything was so ugly, I gave up. Trust me to find these babies as soon as nursery started again.

7. Tidlo Wooden Little Friends Puzzle – Mulberry Bush – £11.99 

This sweet, 24-piece puzzle is a great way to discuss racial differences, and help young children to understand the very basics of humanity. The set contains eight pairs of wooden friends that help with early shape and pattern recognition by challenging little hands to place each piece in the right place. Or why not mix them up for a fun lesson in biology.   

8. Woke Babies book subscription – Woke Babies – £20.00 per month

There are about 10 million amazing children’s books written by and featuring people (and children) of colour. Too many to write about here so I’ll cover it another day, but this is something slightly different. Woke Babies is an amazing subscription service, delivering a box of books each month tailored to your child’s age and featuring black characters and trailblazers that look just like them.        

9. Miniland toddler doll – Cissy Wears – £32.00

We have one of these Miniland dolls and have to say, it’s a personal favourite. Dolls can help children to develop emotional intelligence, improve creativity, learn early social skills and bond through imaginative play so they’re great for starting the race conversation at home, whatever colour your skin. The Spanish brand has been around since the 1800s, designing toys that celebrate diversity and believe anyone can achieve their dreams. So yes, it might just be a doll, but a lot of thought has gone into this baby. They also smell amazing.

10. RosieGirl London Little Miss Africa Doll – Etsy – £32.00

RosieGirl London has been on my radar for a while now, as a local independent maker. Her dolls are amazing. Seriously, if you haven’t checked out her Etsy page yet, the link above will take you there, where you’ll find yourself in custom doll heaven! This one is called Little Miss Africa and isn’t she beautiful? Her dress and headscarf are all made from authentic African fabric and would make a great gift for any little fashionista. They’re about 40cm tall and you’ll need to watch out for the small parts with under 3s.

So that’s it for now but as I said, please leave any other suggestions in the comments below and tell me if there are any toys you’re looking for with characters you can’t find. I’d be more than happy to help. 

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