I'm always on the lookout for toys and books that do not perpetuate gender roles, put princesses on a pedestal or revolve around fantasy. I'm particularly interested in books that highlight female leaders of all ethnicities throughout history and toys that encourage creativity and introduce STEM concepts and skills. Here are some of my favorite picks for 2018:
LEGO Women of NASA
LEGO hasn't historically been great at making room for the female LEGO enthusiast but they're finally starting to put forth some sincere efforts and this is a win in my book. This set features 4 minifigurines representing female pioneers of NASA like Nancy Grace Roman and Sally Ride. Kids can build a posable Hubble Space Telescope with authentic details and a launchpad and Space Shuttle Challenger with 3 removable rocket stages!
Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History
This sweet book highlights some of the female figures of black history that aren't always taught in school - pilots, mathematicians, poets and abolitionists.
Mechanica by Betsy Cornwell
"This inventive and subversive 'Cinderella' retelling features Nicolette 'Nick,' who at 16 discovers the existence of a basement workshop, complete with a furnace, glassblowing apparatus, and other mechanical tools powered partly by fey magic....Readers looking for an atypical fairy tale will find this refreshing because it relies less on traditional romance or happy endings, and more on living independently and unconventionally, loving freely, and being able to choose your own destiny." -- Sharon Rawlins, School Library Journal
The GoldieBlox Builders' Survival Kit
GoldieBlox, named one of Fast Company's Most Innovative Companies in 2014, was developed as an answer to LEGO for girls. Their aim is to give girls "tools that empower girls to build their confidence, dreams and ultimately, their futures." This particular set includes 190 pieces and Goldie's Invention Book that will inspire hours of creativity and fun.
Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World
This book is a feast for the eyes and the brain - a gorgeous anthology of stories about leaders throughout STEM history, juicy infographics and inspiration for aspiring scientists, technologists, engineers, mathematicians.
Lottie the Fossil Hunter
This doll is no princess and no Barbie - she is geared up for adventure. Based on the body of a 9-year old girl, Lottie comes dressed in a paleotology-themed outfit with a backpack full of fossil-finding tools like a magnifying glass and a trowel. Your young one will love hiding and finding the four ammonite fossils included in Lottie's set and reading the special collector cards about the famous fossil hunter Mary Anning.
Melissa & Doug Scientist Role Play Set
Your aspiring 5-8 year old Marie Curie or Louis Pasteur needs their first lab coat! This set includes goggles, a non-breakable beaker, test tube, petri dish, measuring spoons, and a hypothesis card. I will always remember the first stethoscope my parents gave me and the "experiments" I worked on for hours in our playroom as a child.
A is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara
This board book is perfect for progressive families looking to introduce dialog around social justice and activism early on. “Reading it is almost like reading Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, but for two-year olds—full of pictures and rhymes and a little cat to find on every page that will delight the curious toddler and parents alike.”—Occupy Wall Street