16 Diverse Gifts For Kids That Prove Representation Matters

From dolls with naturally curly hair to reimagined fairytale books, these products will create toy chests that match real life.
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It’s that wonderful time of year, when the toy aisle is filled with the newest colorful bikes, action figures, dolls, playhouses and elaborate play sets. And if you’re doing your toy shopping online this year, right now is crunch time — you need to order as soon as possible to make sure everything arrives at your home on time.

But when considering exactly which toys to buy this year, think about how representation can play a part in playtime. Growing up, I remember being so thrilled when I would unwrap a birthday or Christmas gift to see a doll that looked like me, or a book with a main character on the cover who had thick hair that looked like mine (and a matching super-shiny, greasy forehead). However, I also recall walking down the toy aisle with my mom and being a little disappointed that there were only two Black dolls sitting on the shelves, usually placed behind the other dolls with whom I shared no features or history.

Every kid should be able to have toys they identify with, but there’s a lack of options for dolls, toys, books and puzzles showing different faiths, genders, languages and physical abilities. However, the toy industry is finally making strides to be more inclusive, as many small and large brands are putting out toys for everyone. The list below serves as a launching pad for discovering toys and activities that aim to do just that. From puzzles that feature images of kids of different races to handmade dolls wearing hijabs, these gifts reflect the world we all live in.

HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.

1
The Little Likes Kids joyful carousel jumbo puzzle
Representation matters, even in kids puzzles. This jumbo 24-piece puzzle comes from Little Likes Kids, a toy company founded by a mom who wanted to create inclusive and diverse toys so her children could see themselves during playtime. It features a colorful carousel image and is recommended for kids age 3 and older.

Get it at Pottery Barn Kids for $14.
2
The Our Generation gymnastics Nya doll
Olympics season may be over (for now), but this doll will be cherished for a lifetime if you know a little one who loves gymnastics. The Nya doll has tight light brown curls that can be taken down from the bun to create new hairstyles. She's dressed in a zip-up jacket, leotard, gymnastic socks and a gold medal.

Get it at Target for $24.99.
3
The Little People, Big Dreams coloring book
All tiny hands will need is a pack of colored pencils to dig into this coloring book, which features 15 famous figures from different backgrounds and time periods. Maya Angelou, Bruce Lee, Frida Kahlo, Zaha Hadid and Georgia O’Keeffe are just a few of the icons they'll see depicted.

Get it on Amazon for $5.19.
4
The Ameena doll from Selma's Dolls
Dressed in a green shirt — a color with significant meanings in Islam — and a hijab, the Ameena doll is a part of Selma's Dolls. The collection of dolls started by Valerie Alva-Ruiz and Courtney Stillwagon aims to teach children how to embrace and understand the differences of others. Ameena stands 12.8 inches tall and is designed for kids ages 2 and up. The doll also comes with an illustrated book that tells a story of Selma overcoming her fears on the first day of school with the help of Ameena, Annie and Lola.

Get it on Amazon for $23.99.
5
The Healthy Roots Zoe doll
A doll with naturally curly hair that can actually be washed with real hair products and styled? Created by Healthy Roots Dolls, a toy company that aims to empower young girls and embrace diversity, the Zoe doll helps young kids learn how to style and care for their hair. She stands at 18 inches tall and is suitable for ages 6 and up.

Get it at Target for $79.99.
6
The Little Likes Kids day at the barbershop memory game
My little brother used to struggle with getting his hair cut at the barbershop. And with good reason — it can be intimidating and overwhelming if you don't exactly know what you're getting into. This 48-piece matching memory game from Little Likes Kids helps children get more comfortable with what getting a haircut at the barbershop entails and what they might see when they sit in the chair.

Get it at Nordstrom for $16.
7
A handmade hijab doll with a prayer mat
OAK Creative Designs was founded in Kayseri, Turkey, by Nilgun Seyhun as a way for Syrian refugee women who settled there to learn vocational skills and make a steady income by producing handmade crochet items. Every doll is crocheted by hand and shipped from Turkey. The hijab dolls come in medium and large sizes come with a matching prayer mat.

Get it on Etsy starting at $32.
8
"Hair Love" by Matthew A. Cherry
Matthew A. Cherry's "Hair Love," which was released in 2019, tells the story of a father who learns how to care for and style his daughter Zuri's hair. Zuri has a lot of kinky, coily hair, which her mother typically does. But in the story, her father is put up to the task of doing it — and in turn, he helps boost Zuri's confidence.

Get it on Amazon for $11.77
.
9
The "Once Upon a World Collection" by Chloe Perkins
With this collection of revised fairytales, kids of different ethnicities and cultures can see themselves in their favorite stories. The retellings include "Snow White," "Cinderella," "Rapunzel" and "The Princess and the Pea," and take place in Japan, Mexico, India and Russia.

Get them on Amazon for $23.75.
10
The Barbie Fashionistas doll in a wheelchair
The Barbie Fashionistas line includes dolls of all skin tones, body types and abilities, including the #166 model, which features a Barbie with crimped hair in a wheelchair. The wheels actually roll and it has a working brake. The doll also comes in a version with blonde hair.

Get it at Target for $15.29.
11
A set of My Family Builders building blocks
These magnetic building blocks developed by My Family Builders, a toy company that approaches children's learning with an inclusive mind, create endless possibilities for kids to observe and embrace differences. The set comes with 16 blocks that mix and match to product unique characters and family dynamics. It includes eight kid heads, four kid torsos and four small legs; three blocks come together to create one character.

Get it on Amazon for $34.95.
12
The Barbie Fashionistas doll with a full afro
Kids with big afros deserve to see their hair texture in dolls. The #156 Barbie Fashionistas doll comes with a varsity jacket-style dress, heels and blue lipstick.

Get it at Target for $7.99.
13
The Qai Qai doll
Little ones who love Serena Williams will jump for joy when they learn about Qai Qai. The doll started out as an animated concept by the tennis superstar and is based off of her daughter's first doll. It now has an Instagram and Twitter page, and is currently only available on Amazon.

Get it on Amazon for $20.99.
14
The "I Never Forget A Face" memory matching game
This matching game from woman-founded toy company eeBoo is a great gift to help kids practice recognition and memory skills. It comes with 24 pairs of different faces to match and is suitable for ages 3 and up.

Get it on Amazon for $18.
15
The Baby Alive Lulu Achoo doll
Baby Alive dolls are classic toys, as the brand has been around since 1973. The brand h a variety of dolls with different skin tones and hair types, including this curly-haired version of the Lulu Achoo doll. Like the name suggests, this doll makes sneezing noises, coughs and moves her arms. The set comes with a doctor station that has an attached play stethoscope, two charts, a pretend thermometer, cloth tissue, a spoon, a comb and a bottle.

Get it on Amazon for $52.99.
16
"The Life Of/La Vida de Jean-Michel Basquiat" by Patty Rodriguez and Ariana Stein
With this illustrated book, you can teach your kids about Jean-Michel Basquiat's contributions to neo-expressionism in the art world. The Brooklyn-born artist, who was of Haitian and Puerto Rican descent, expressed his creativity through graffiti, paintings and drawings around New York. Citlali Reyes illustrated the book, which allows kids to discover more about his life and work.

Get it on Amazon for $9.19.

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