I’ve had this post rattling around in my brain for a while. But it’s one of those ideas that feels like it’s getting away from me every time I think about it… where do I start… where do I end… I’ve been paralyzed. So for this #WednesdayPlayday, I’m just going to throw it out there and muddle through as best I can. I’ll start with the first glimmer of this post idea: Watching my daughter and my son running around the house in their princess costumes. Yep… you read that right. As a 3-year-old boy with sisters, nail polish and princess costumes and ballet shoes are what he sees around the house and because no one’s told him otherwise, he plays with these just like any other toy. For a few years, my son is refreshingly unaware of things like gender norms and masculine expectations and male stereotypes. I suspect that sometime in the next year, he will begin to internalize all of the ways that society tells him he should be ‘ a boy’ and odds are he won’t run around as gleefully in a fairy costume as he once did. But gender is just one thing our children begin to internalize at a young age. How about race? Ethnicity? Socioeconomics? What messages are our children taking in subconsciously about all of this? Young children are concrete learners who gain knowledge from their direct experience. So the bigger question is how can children gain an awareness and respect for those with a different race or ethnicity or social class if they aren’t allowed a chance to interact with and experience these differences first-hand? First hand experience for a preschooler might look like a game or a book or a playdate or a field trip…so what’s my point? (Don’t worry… I get that a lot!) How diverse is your home? Take a look at your books, your toys, your weekend activities… how do they measure up in the ‘different than you’ category? This has been my goal around here lately… to diversify my children’s world a bit. And I have a long way to go! To start, I’ve focused on our picture books and our toys. Baby steps. And to be clear, I’ve been looking to find books and toys with subjects who are non-white, non-suburban, non-Christian and perhaps not as fortunate as we are to have a home and clothing and food every meal, etc. Here’s where the paralysis I mentioned earlier kicks in… I’m about to share a list of books, show some links and throw out a few other examples… but that’s a drop in the bucket. This is an ongoing challenge and one with which I will humbly request as much support and assistance from my community of friends and followers as possible! So comment and suggest and share… (Pssst… this post contains affiliate links)
5. Zen Garden
These are the briefest of snapshots of toys and books that might offer a different perspective than the predominantly white world of children’s literature and activities. If and when I get new ideas, I’ll try to keep this post updated… and who knows? Maybe this can become an dedicated page on the blog if I get more and more ideas! Bring em on, folks! (Check out this post to see what I wrote about children’s play… and of course, other #WednesdayPlayday posts are here!)
Updates: As I get comments from my amazing readers, I’ll keep adding to the list here. Thanks, everyone!!
Clockwise from top left: King and King by Linda de Haan
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