Skip To Content
Blog Get a Quote

How to diversify your child's toy box and bookshelf this holiday

This holiday season, consider these inclusive gift ideas.

We’re almost at the end of one of the longest years ever. Emphasis on almost — before we can move on into 2021, there’s a pared-down holiday season to navigate.

Consider it an opportunity: This year’s holiday gift exchange could be the perfect chance to add some diversity to your child’s toy box and/ or bookshelf. Talk of racial equality, inclusion, and cultural sensitivity have dominated conversations in boardrooms and on social media in 2020, and choosing multicultural gifts this holiday season could be one way to keep that conversation going at home. Here are some of our favorite gift ideas for kids.

In this article:

Add new representation to the toy box

Take a look at your child’s toy selection to see what types of people are and aren’t being represented. If the toy box is looking a bit homogenous, you could go on the hunt for some diverse faces to add to the collection for the holiday season.

Olivia L. Baylor, a mental health therapist in Maryland, says it’s a good idea to introduce children to races and cultural differences at a young age. “[This can] include having dolls with a range of skin complexions 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 ones that weren’t thin and rocking washboard abs. Today, Mattel makes dolls with different shapes, sizes, and skin tones; there are even dolls with prosthetic limbs and in wheelchairs for your little ones to play with. Marvel also makes action figure families of various races and with different physical disabilities. When it comes to kids toys for a holiday gift, try using this special occasion as a way to broaden their horizons.

On the flip side, if dolls or toys of a child’s race are underrepresented in their toy collection, consider gifting more toys that look like them. “For many African American children, what they experience is not being able to love their hair because they’re used to dolls that have straight hair and fair skin,” says Baylor. Owning dolls with their own hair textures and features can help promote self-love and appreciation for their attributes.

Choose main characters of color

Fortunately, not being able to find multicultural stories is no longer a barrier. 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 shop that sells book bundles with diverse characters online.

Looking for a few books to add to your holiday shopping list? “Fry Bread” by Kevin Noble Maillard is a Native American family story about making meals and creating memories. “Hair Love” by Matthew A. Cherry tells a story about a relationship between a young Black girl and her father who’s styling her hair for a special event.

While shopping for books the perfect gift for your little ones, Baylor says it’s important to make sure you’re 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 literacy book for children.

“Visually, this book represents an underreported illustration of the Black family,” says Aliche, author and financial educator. Mali, the main character of the book, and her family are depicted as a happy and successful Black family that has darkskin and coily hair, which hasn’t always been represented in media.

If you’re looking for books for young kids that tackle the topic of race and racism head-on, there’s “Antiracist Baby” by Ibram X. Kendi, a vibrant picture book that discusses the concept and how children and parents can address the issue. “Speak Up” by Miranda Paul is a unique children’s book that encourages children to challenge rules and speak up for themselves and others.

Haven Life: Life insurance that’s actually simple

Get our newsletter

There’s more great content where this came from.

Look for toys and games that explore new cultures

If your child likes trivia or games (and hey, what kid doesn’t?), they might enjoy these interactive activities that teach them about new cultures.

For example, WompleBox is a multicultural monthly subscription box for kids that explores new worlds and comes with maps, a country guide, stickers, and more. “We introduce kid-characters that are from other cultures: a young Maasai from Tanzania, a First Nations girl from Canada, [and] a Gaucho from Argentina,” says Alejandro Bras, co-founder of Womple Studio.

Bras finds that kids easily relate to other kids no matter where they’re from. And through the activities, kids can gain an appreciation for how others live.

Know that kids may have questions, and that’s okay

When opening multicultural gifts, young kids may point out differences that you don’t have to shy away from. Baylor says that questions about race are an opportunity to have a discussion with the family about their thoughts, and you can explain that differences do exist but that they aren’t bad.

When to broach the specific topic of race and racism with your children is a personal choice. According to research published by the American Psychological Association, most U.S. adults say around five is the right age to start talking about race with kids. However, research has found kids begin to notice race in infancy and can even develop negative racial beliefs by preschool age.

Early conversations at home can help prepare children to be accepting of racial and cultural differences, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Diverse and multicultural gifts from yourself (or Santa) could provide an opportunity for them to ask questions and for you to encourage kindness and compassion for all people. And, especially this year, that sense of empathy might just be the greatest gift of them all.

Default author headshot

About Taylor Medine

Taylor Medine is a personal finance writer who's covered all things money for the last six years. Her work has appeared on Business InsiderCredit KarmaMSNUSA Today, and much more.

Read more by Taylor Medine

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer-centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our editorial policy

Haven Life is a customer centric life insurance agency that’s backed and wholly owned by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). We believe navigating decisions about life insurance, your personal finances and overall wellness can be refreshingly simple.

Our content is created for educational purposes only. Haven Life does not endorse the companies, products, services or strategies discussed here, but we hope they can make your life a little less hard if they are a fit for your situation.

Haven Life is not authorized to give tax, legal or investment advice. This material is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for tax, legal, or investment advice. Individuals are encouraged to seed advice from their own tax or legal counsel.

Our disclosures

Haven Term is a Term Life Insurance Policy (DTC and ICC17DTC in certain states, including NC) issued by Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual), Springfield, MA 01111-0001 and offered exclusively through Haven Life Insurance Agency, LLC. In NY, Haven Term is DTC-NY 1017. In CA, Haven Term is DTC-CA 042017. Haven Term Simplified is a Simplified Issue Term Life Insurance Policy (ICC19PCM-SI 0819 in certain states, including NC) issued by the C.M. Life Insurance Company, Enfield, CT 06082. Policy and rider form numbers and features may vary by state and may not be available in all states. Our Agency license number in California is OK71922 and in Arkansas 100139527.

MassMutual is rated by A.M. Best Company as A++ (Superior; Top category of 15). The rating is as of Aril 1, 2020 and is subject to change. MassMutual has received different ratings from other rating agencies.

Haven Life Plus (Plus) is the marketing name for the Plus rider, which is included as part of the Haven Term policy and offers access to additional services and benefits at no cost or at a discount. The rider is not available in every state and is subject to change at any time. Neither Haven Life nor MassMutual are responsible for the provision of the benefits and services made accessible under the Plus Rider, which are provided by third party vendors (partners). For more information about Haven Life Plus, please visit:

You might also like

Get our most-read stories, twice a month

.newsletter-msg-success, .newsletter-msg-error { display: none; }

What our customers are saying

Sign up for our newsletter

Get our most-read stories, twice a month

Thanks for signing up. See you in your inbox soon.