We live in an age where everything is overdesigned. Your “phone” — a one-stop shop for work, texts, entertainment, video chats, and news — is just the beginning. You can’t seem to buy a vacuum, a toaster, or a fan without a touchscreen, WiFi linkup, and all that entails. Sometimes it’s overly complicated. Sometimes, it adds to the use and value of the thing. But when it comes to toys, it misses the point.
Toys help kids play. Playing is a social thing, an act of learning and observing, interacting and communicating. Through an object, kids can see each other and the world. High-minded and lofty? You bet. In a world filled with screens and connectivity, it’s also awesomely simple.
A great toy draws people in to play together. When choosing this year’s very best toys we kept this in mind. We eschewed screens, movie tie-ins, and other technical and social complexities for toys that invite communication, interaction, imagination, and movement.
We split the list into great toys for toddlers and preschoolers, grade-school kids, and tweens. In each category, you’ll find toys familiar (in form) to what our grandparents might have had to play with. Board games, stuffies, balls, and dolls. We also include toys that are sustainable, made by small businesses and black-owned businesses (see our 15% pledge for that), and built to be passed on to future generations.
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