Kids learn about the world through play, but what does the toy store’s all-pink and all-blue aisles teach them? Probably not what you’d hope: “They signal to girls that femininity is all about commercialism and appearance, and masculinity is about action and aggression,” says Peggy Orenstein, author of Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture. And that’s a problem since “toys are a way to communicate to our kids what our expectations are of them as adults,” says Orenstein.
If you’d prefer to keep your kids’ horizons wide, we’ve got engaging toys for girls and boys that will be go-tos long after princess and superhero phases pass.
Let them all eat (tiny) cake! After a girl in New Jersey started a petition asking for an oven that appeals to all kids, Hasbro unveiled a unisex version that shows both girls and boys on the packaging. Hasbro, $54.99. Ages 8 & up.