While I don’t have any links to specific toys for your child, I do have some guidelines for parents shopping for a blind child today. For one, a lot of toys are interactive, board games seem visual, and there are a multitude of coding kits and so on, but almost none of the robots, board games, and educational games were made with blind children and adults in mind. I have blind parents who are enthusiastically trying to raise girls and boys and … well, nonbinary people too, of all ages and types. The big thing is that if your daughter wants a science toy, more power to her, but when you look at toys for blind kids, you have to look at toys the child can easily play with. Think about, for example, the toys you played with as a child if you’re the parent in this case. Did you like fashion dolls? Did you do beads? Sewing/ I can’t stand doing needlework, but I did do fashion dolls and stuff, but here’s the big thing: if youru son wants a doll, more power to him. Buy him that doll, even though your gendered programming may say otherwise. Here are some toys for all children you could try, and I’m not naming specifics, but here are some to buy and some to avoid.
1. Buy toys that educate, and think simple. Examples include Play Dough and slime. I did a ton of work with play dough when I was a kid, and there are still play dough kits and sets you can purchase online through Amazon. They have a compound kit for kids that’ pretty hot this year, so be on the look out. Play dough is a tactile alternative in my opinion to coloring books and such, where the coloring book has no tactile lines to color within. My mom had to puff paint one such book, and I’m not so sure those will work with totally blind kids with no color or light perception.
2. You can always get Star Wars toys. Those are always fun, but then there’s the risk of losing half the small pieces/parts and your 2-year-old mouthing those small parts and choking to death. Avoid buying small figures and small parts for the obviously very very small child. Just be careful, but if you have an older child who loves these toys, go for it.
3. For children who love being a bit nerdy or perhaps the child who is curious about the world around them, there are augmented reality toys and things that will quiz your kid on things like world geography and such, but I’d avoid those toys since they may require vision to operate and is the app accessible? That’s a question your blind child or you the parent should always always ask before you want to up and buy the latest gadget for your child.
4. For any child who is curious about women’s history, Pleasant Company has the American Girl collection, and I think they’ve come out with inclusive story lines and other things. If anything, books in the dolls’ collections may be in print, but there are Bard equivalents in the American Girl series available through NLS. Your child historian will enjoy these kinds of things, and these are stories as told through the eyes of such characters as a runaway slave, a Mexican immigrant, a Native American girl, a WWII era girl, a WWI era girl, and a girl from the Vietnam War era, and oh did I forget there’s a turn of the twentieth century girl too? And to round off all the girls, you have a colonial girl from Williamsburg, and it’s pretty interesting what the American Girl collection has in store for us these days. You could buy your own subscription to the American Girl magazine, I would hope it’s still there, but then there’s more to it than this. You can create customizable dolls with a variety of skin tones, abilities, and stories of their own. You can also buy lots of accessories for that doll. I want to point out that the Native doll is amazing, and she comes with different clothing and a powwow outfit and stuff like that. Through these dolls, your child will learn more about American women and, as an added bonus, literacy will come right along for the ride. Like I said, there are American girl stories available on NLS Bard, and you will be able to look at the history of each doll online.
5. Avoid toys that promote violence and gender discrimination. This may sound odd, but certain Disney characters may include the princess as a marriage piece. While it is okay as an adult to go through the Disney classics, I don’t want the next generation to get hurt when they realize that singing doesn’t get you anywhere, that marriage is not the end all destiny of every woman, and that dresses are not just women’s clothing today. These days, the princess culture can be seen as gendered and specifically geared toward putting a girl in her place. If your three year old daughter, however, wants a baby doll, fine. Just don’t necessarily emphasize caregiver roles for her. If your 6 year old son requests a paint ball gun, be smart about it. Why buy a paint ball gun for a boy his age? What will that encourage? My brother kept asking for a damn paint ball gun one year for Christmas, to which my mom said, I’m not buying it. Smart move, as this would have promoted violence against people. I don’t think paint balling is any fun when women in their underpants are forced to run around a little arena where men hunt them down and splatter them with paint from a gun. The women get paid, but I would feel sick about giving any male or female child a gun of any kind for Christmas.
6. Avoid toys that don’t include the child should this child be disabled. Also, if you have a black or mixed race child, there are plenty of inclusive options. There’s a Rosa Parks doll out there, but black fashion dolls are now becoming more needed than ever. Kids need to see themselves in the toys they play with, see themselves in stories they read. Refer to option 4 and learn about the American girl dolls I mentioned earlier. they have lots of dolls that are black, white, brown, whatever. Girls can customize the doll if they want to see themselves and write their own story.
7. For very young toddlers, see option 2, but avoid small parts and only buy toys that are easier to manage for this kind of child. Between 2 and 4 years of age, toys become things that a child can or will put in their mouths. You don’t want that to happen, so try buying toys that don’t promote wasteful packaging, contain small parts, or don’t have the bright fun coloring kids like. Toddlers of all types enjoy playing, no kidding, but plush toys and bigger packages and parts will work fine. IF your kid has any kind of diseases that include Pika, be careful when purchasing matchbox cars. Most kids love matchbox cars, even I had a couple of those myself.
8. Encourage your child to dream big. Buy them legos. when in doubt, buy legos, and legos are awesome. Why? Because everybody can play with them. Just remember, you don’t have to buy Lego Friends for your female child but if you wanted to buy that Harry Potter castle Hogwarts set for her, fine by me. You could also encourage your child to build legos into things they dream up, and here’s another reason why we need brainy people in the world. A seventh grader made a very much in need product out of lego blocks, a Braille embosser. Who knew! Legos are one of those fall back things you could try and when you buy them, encourage your kids to build the world they want to see.
9. Avoid the toys that belonged to a dead person. Depending on the psychological ramifications of a person’s death, please, I beg parents everywhere, listen to your child. the toy that belonged to someone in the family that choked to death or killed themselves is a recipe for disaster for the living child. Be extremely careful. Also avoid used and broken toys because what will your child say if your toys are broken before they have a chance to play with them?
10. Set a budget for all toys you buy for your kids. Given the Covid pandemic and so many families struggling financially, you might want to consider toys that are in budgetary consideration. Example, say you want to buy toys for four children, and you have a lot of bills to pay. Try setting a budget, say about $20 per child per toy. Or, you could try $25 per child per toy. Either way, budgetary concerns are real and you and your family may want to consider those a priority. $150 for all the kids’ toys is another idea, but don’t just go up and buy that Arendell play set from frozen because you can, and don’t just up and let your child purchase that thousand buck dollhouse and cookies. Oops, one six-year-old girl actually did that and her mom was like, what???? the mom and daughter eventually gave the stuff away to charity, and the mom? Well, she set up purchase pins and disabled voice purchasing for her daughter. Good on her because she couldn’t necessarily afford the cookies and the dollhouse. Ugh, the only thing a child really needs is validation, but pay attention to what the child says and does not say when you are surfing the web for gifts this year. If you are struggling, and cannot buy toys for your child at all, consider applying to do Toys for Tots. Toys for Tots is a very awesome organizational effort done by the U.S. Marine corps. they’ve been doing this for a long time. If you do have enough money, and you want to donate, consider donating money or a new unwrapped toy to Toys for Tots.
Be on the look out for the guide for adults, but for those families who fear Santa won’t be there, do not be alarmed at all. Santa will be socially distanced, or physically distanced should I say, for photos with the kids. Also, if you want to write a letter to Santa, write to 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888 as far as I know, and get your letters in for Operation Santa as soon as possible. The big man isn’t taking the year off.