We are almost at the end of one of the longest years ever. Emphasis on almost – before we can move on to 2021, there is a secluded holiday season to navigate.
Think of it as an opportunity: This year's gift change can be the perfect chance to add a little diversity to your child's toy box and / or bookshelf. Talk about racial equality, inclusion and cultural sensitivity has dominated conversations in boardrooms and on social media by 2020, and choosing multicultural gifts during the holidays can be a way to keep that conversation at home. Here are some tips to help you choose the perfect gift.
Add new representation to the toy box
Take a look at your child's toy selection to see which types of people are not represented. If the toy box looks a bit homogeneous, you can look for different faces to add to the collection.
Olivia L. Baylor, a Maryland psychiatric therapist, says it's a good idea to introduce children to racial and cultural differences at a young age. "[This can] includes having dolls with different skin color and body proportions as well as [dolls that show] different disabilities.
Decades ago you might have been hard pressed to find dolls of different races, let alone those that were not thin and rocking washboard abs Today, Mattel makes dolls with different shapes, sizes and skin tones; there are even dolls with prostheses and wheelchairs. Marvel also makes action figure families of different races and with different physical disabilities.
On the back, about dolls or toys from a "For many African American children, they are not allowed to love their hair because they are used to dolls that have straight hair and fair skin," says Baylor, saying that "children's race is underrepresented in their toy collection, consider giving more toys that look like them." owning dolls with their own hair structures and features can help promote self-love and appreciation for their attributes.
Choose main characters in color
Fortunately, it is no longer a barrier to not finding multicultural stories. Amazon has multicultural children's books from many authors. Or, if you prefer to support small businesses, consider one like Multicultural Bookstore and Gifts, a California-based store that sells book bundles with different characters online.
Looking for some books to add to your holiday shopping list? "Fry Bread" by Kevin Noble Maillard is a Native American family story about cooking and creating memories. "Hair Love" by Matthew A. Cherry tells the story of a relationship between a young black girl and her father who styles her hair for a special occasion.
When shopping for books, Baylor says it's important to make sure you are introducing multicultural toys and stories that represent other cultures in a respectful and positive way. This was the goal that Tiffany "The Budgetnista" Aliche had in mind when she wrote her book "Happy Birthday Mali Moore", a financial reading book for children.
"Visually, this book represents an underreported illustration of the black family." Says Aliche, author and financial educator. Mali, the book's protagonist and her family, are portrayed as a happy and successful black family with dark skin and hair, which is not. has always been represented in the media.
If you are looking for books that deal with the subject of race and racism from the beginning, there is "Antiracist Baby" by Ibram X. Kendi, a lively picture book that discusses the concept and how children and parents can deal with the problem "Speak Up" by Miranda Paul is a unique children's book that encourages children to challenge rules and speak for themselves and others.
Look for toys and games that explore new cultures
If your child likes trivia or games (and hey, what child does not?), they might enjoy these interactive activities that teach them about new cultures.
For example, WompleBox is a multicultural monthly subscription box for children who u explores new worlds and comes with maps, a country guide, stickers and more. "We introduce children's characters from other cultures: a young Maasai from Tanzania, a First Nations girl from Canada, [and] a Gaucho from Argentina," said Alejandro Bras, co-founder of Womple Studio.
Bras finds that children easily relate to other children no matter where they come from. And through the activities, children can gain appreciation for how others live.
Know that children can have questions, and that's okay
When opening multicultural gifts, children can point out differences that you do not need to be ashamed of. Baylor says that questions about race are an opportunity to discuss with the family about their thoughts, and you can explain that differences exist but that they are not bad.
When spreading the specific topic of race and racism with your children is a personal choice. According to research published by the American Psychological Association, most American adults say that about five are the right age to start talking about race with children. However, research has shown that children begin to notice race in infants and can even develop negative racial perceptions after preschool age.
Early conversations at home can help prepare children to accept racial and cultural differences, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Different and multicultural gifts from yourself (or Santa Claus) can give them the opportunity to ask questions and for you to encourage kindness and compassion for all people. And especially this year, that feeling of empathy may just be the greatest gift for them all.