MyFamilyBuilders allows kids to literally build their family members.
Not all families look alike — yet toys often do.
How would our world change if kids could put together characters that accurately represent the people in their actual families?
They'll soon be able to do just that — and easily — thanks to this new toy set that's not only fun, but kind of revolutionary. Each set of toys comes with 48 magnetized wooden pieces that can be taken apart and put together in whatever configuration the child chooses.
Kids can create families that look like this:
And a whole lot more!
The idea struck Ez Karpf a year ago when he and his wife were shopping for gifts for their friends' children.
"Our friends have a multiracial family, and I just assumed I would be able to find a family doll set that resembled my friends' family," he told me.
That's when he discovered what most "nontraditional families" already know: It's nearly impossible to find toys like that at most mainstream retailers. After hitting the doll aisle in several stores, Karpf and his wife came up empty-handed.
That got Karpf thinking: It wasn't just this one family he was having a hard time finding a gift for. There were no dolls that would work for another friend's two-dad family or his cousin's single-parent family.
The lack of diversity in dolls doesn't make sense because families are most certainly not one-size-fits-all.
Karpf says he came across an endless array of "standard" family doll sets — a mom, a dad, a boy, and a girl, all the same color. But what do actual American families look like? Consider the following:
- The U.S. Census Bureau reported that in 2008, almost 30% of families with children were single-parent families.
- In 2013, nearly 220,000 children under the age of 18 were being raised in same-sex-parent families.
- Children who were adopted and stepchildren make up nearly 7% of American sons and daughters and while statistics on the races of the family members aren't available, many of those families are transracial (just like mine) — the child or children and the parent(s) are different races.
- And with the rise of multiracial couples in the U.S., it's safe to say there are (or will be) children in many of these households — and not everyone is going to match! In 2011, there were 4.2 million multiracial children in the U.S.
Karpf was determined to provide kids with toys that reflect their realities because he knows playtime is about more than just play.
"The way children explore, experiment, understand, and make sense of the world is through play," Karpf told me. "They also learn cultural meanings through play."
Karpf talked about the situation with his friends. As he explained to me:
"We talked about how odd it was not be able to buy these toys for kids. We know that kids construct the idea of families at a young age, and we thought that if we could teach kids to celebrate love and the values shared by all families, regardless of color, creed, sexual orientation, or culture, maybe there wouldn't be so much evidence of hatred in the future."
So he and his friends set out to do something about it.
They teamed up to take action, and MyFamilyBuilders was born.
The toys are cute, easy to use, durable, and — most importantly — inclusive.
The set also includes a game for building all different types of families, including those with a mom, a dad, a brother, and a sister who all match.
It's important for children to be able to play with dolls and toys that reflect themselves and their families, but it's good for all kids to have toys showing them that families come in all kinds of configurations.
Right now, says Karpf, most toys refer to a heterosexual world with pre-established roles in the family. But what if every child had access to a toy like MyFamilyBuilders — a toy that promotes diversity, equality, and creativity? That, says Karpf, "is totally revolutionary and innovative. It opens the possibility to think about the world in a different way."
What if toys like these could become mainstream? Let the toy revolution begin!
These toys are for all kids! if you love them, you can order a set and support the Kickstarter — which has already been fully funded (so these toys will be made!) — by visiting the site.
And maybe, jusssstttt maybe, toys like this will start showing up in the stores we frequent, where kids can find them right on the shelves!