Toys for girls and boys

Archive for March, 2012

Books with genderfree parents/children

This one isn’t about toys, but my children seem to enjoy books as much, if not more, than any toy, plus it is gender related, for both the parent and the children, so bear with me…

My husband loves to read with our children and they get through many, many books a day. One of the things that gets to me though, is that so many books assume that the mum is the main carer. Even if that is the case, it doesn’t need reinforcing all the time, and it might encourage dads to read more with their children. I’ve not found many, but here are some books for babies and toddlers (although we still like reading some of these with my 5-year-old).

I really like this book Hug by Jez Alborough, and it has hardly any words in, but it does use the word Mummy on the last page, when, from the picture, it could so easily have said Daddy! Or Grandpa! It’s really not nice for dads to read books like that, I imagine.  So my advice would be to just replace the last word ‘Mummy’ by ‘Daddy’, or ‘Grandad’ or someone’s name even. The kids can’t read yet anyway: they are not likely to challenge you on it (plus, it’s all for a good cause).  But it can be done differently…

A book that are not too obviously gender specific for child or parent is this one:  “You and me, Little Bear” (I haven’t read all the books in this series,  so I can only vouch for this one!) Neither the Big Bear or the Little Bear are specifically male or female. Although both are referred to as ‘he’ in the text, so must be male, they are mainly called Big Bear or Little Bear. When I asked my children which gender they thought the bears were, my son said a Baby boy and a Mama bear, and my daughter said a Baby girl and a Daddy bear. So quite open to interpretation anyway. The bears do chores and games that boys and girls, men and women can imagine doing. It is a lovely story to read, and we often quote from it when we are doing something with one child: “you and me, little bear, we’ll do it together.”

Now this one truly is genderfree! “I like it when… by Mary Murphy.” The adult penguin and the child penguin are both not any specific gender. The book takes you through a typical day in the life of a toddler or young child. It’s such a simple idea, but such a heartwarming story, I really really love it, and so do both my children.

I hope to add  more to this list, so if you know of any books that fit the criteria, do let me know!



For a long time, my boy wasn’t really interested in toy cars. Friends would bring their sons round, and that’s when the cars _would_ get played with: they would be lined up in rows, or other ways of playing that didn’t seem to have much to do with the fact that the toy had wheels.

When he was nearly two, his sister was born, and as a present from the baby (to help with the transition to Big Brother), we gave him this bus:

And he loved it! It’s still being played with, now he’s 5 and his sister (who’s 3 now) loves playing with it too.

He was also given a baby doll and a buggy, to push the doll around it. The doll wasn’t that interesting to him, but he (and practically every little boy that’s been here since) has taken a real shine to the buggy. I don’t like buggies myself, so I don’t know what it is, but little girls and little boys really do love a toy buggy! Unfortunately, they are all marketed at girls, and therefore pink. My sister went to many, many shops to find one that was blue-ish in colour, but she couldn’t even find a green, yellow, or red one! I really don’t get this obsession with all the pink. Even online it’s very hard to find one that isn’t pink, but I found one! Here it is:

For us, this little foldaway one worked brilliantly, as they like to take it out and about, sometimes for hours, sometimes for 10 minutes or less…. this type of buggy folds up small and can be put in a bag easily to be carried home by any adult.

Here’s another pram that is very popular with both our two: they have one of these at my mum’s house.

Back to the wheels on toys though: for adults the fascination is not very clear,  but all children seem to love the bin men and their bin lorry, in real life and in toy versions. We have this one, and many girls that come to play make a beeline for it:

And yes, it has got a man and a woman working on the lorry! I love the idea of Wow! toys, as they don’t need batteries.

We have another bin lorry, which I can’t find online anymore, but it’s similar to this one. It wasn’t really aimed at children quite as young as mine were, but they loved it from day 1. The mechanism properly works, and it fascinates toddlers no end, tipping the bins out into the lorry. I can’t see any harm in them playing with it (note: I haven’t seen this one in real life, so can’t guarantee it’s toddler-safe, but it looks good for preschoolers/5+)

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