I haven’t yet collected my thoughts enough to write my post about toys, wooden and plastic, my love for one and dislike for the other. Fortunately, Regina Doman writes beautifully about her love for wooden toys. I’ll hopefully follow up with more of my own thoughts later.
So why do I give my kids only wooden toys to play with? Honestly[…] it’s all about what I have to pick up off the floor.
I spent the first seventeen years of my life picking up toys, my own toys and the toys of my nine siblings. And I grew to hate so many different kinds of toys (particularly Legos and Fisher Price, sorry to say).
So when I started life as a parent some eleven years ago, I was adamant that I wouldn’t be tricked into being in the position of caretaker of a quarter acre of Lock-Blocks, Polly-Pockets, Lincoln Logs, Barbie shoes, and Fisher-Price, no matter what I had to do. I became a Present Nazi to all my relatives, fiercely opposing gifts of Legos and electronic gimmicks with lights and sounds (what child needs more and louder sound effects than the ones he was born with?). I exchanged, I threw out, I gave away, I passed on—and today, I am happy to say, wooden toys have prevailed in our house.
Yes, okay, we do have some plastic toys, but I’ll explain what I do with those later.
But the main things lying around in our house are wooden toys. Brio tracks, wooden baby rattles, wooden push toys, and pieces of the wooden castle a carpenter friend made for my sons a few Christmases ago, which I photographed above.
Because it’s all about beauty, for me. Even when they’re lying in a dishevelved way on the floor like above, I like looking at wooden toys. Maybe that one writer was onto something when she said they were more natural. They don’t jar the senses. They don’t scream for attention. They “fit.”
Her feelings about the subject aren’t exactly the same as mine, but they resonate. I also love wooden toys and wish we had more of them. And yes, much of it is about aesthetics. To me wood is beautiful and plastic simply isn’t. Plastic toys may be functional and fun, but they don’t pull at my heart strings the way wooden ones do.
I also love Regina’s suggestions for replacement gifts, which she titles “plastic toy elimination campaign”:
A child can’t have too many beautiful good books. Leastaways, that’s what I feel (my husband has begged to differ). So whenever relatives or friends wanted to give our children toys, and I had a feeling they would send us plastic toys, I would suggest that they give us good and beautiful books. This can be a wonderful strategy for reducing gift-toy clutter and it’s worked for us!
But of course, not all children’s books are created equal, and some toy-spinoff books (ie: Barbie, Transformers) are just as as obnoxious as the toys themselves (and create the need in the child for the featured toy). Plus there are some children’s books that are simply stupid.
So what to do…? You can suggest titles. And I had another idea from Sandra Miesel: she observed that the best children’s illustrators out there won’t illustrate junk. So if the pictures are breathtakingly beautiful, chances are the story is up to par.
I can’t agree more. Which is why Isabella has her own Amazon wishlist with suggestions for both books and wooden toys.