Raising Richmond: 12 gifts any kid will love

Kids (all kids) like things that are awesome, and they need things that help them use their brains. Here are 12 gift ideas that are sure to leave pretty much any kid stoked. (But first, I rant a little.)

There’s been a lot of talk on the Internet as of late regarding “toys for girls” versus “toys for boys,” largely in response to the social media juggernaut that is GoldieBlox.1 This conversation actually comes up quite often–last week it was GoldieBlox, last year it was LEGO Friends–and rightfully so because the whole concept of marketing just to boys or just to girls can be frustrating as hell for parents.2

I suppose this is the part where I’m supposed to rattle off the list of toys currently in our five-year-old son’s possession that equally represent what are considered masculine or feminine interests. But I’m not going to because doing so, in my opinion, just plays into all of the BS my husband and I are trying to debunk for our son–not just through his stuff but more so in how we treat others and talk to him about the world in general.

In our house, toys are just toys. They are not selected (and aren’t not selected) based on their target audience; they’re also not selected to prove a point of some sort. Our son likes what he likes. We buy and/or acquire toys for him based on those likes, as well as his developmental needs. That’s it. And while I try not to get too preachy or prescriptive in this space, that should be it. For every kid.

Kids like things that are awesome, and they need things that help them use their brains. So with that in mind, allow me to suggest 12 toys/books/gifts/etc. that are sure to leave pretty much any kid stoked–boy, girl, tall, short, purple, green, what have you.

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1. LEGO Friends

Because as Sam Davies pointed out a while back, LEGO Friends is just LEGO. Plus the Heartlake City Pool, City Park Cafe, and Dolphin Cruiser sets all look like they’d be super fun to put together (just to name a few).

2. Dueling Stomp Rockets

Healthy competition and a potential physics lesson on projectile motion. Win-win, folks!

3. Rainbow Loom

We spent our pre-teen years fumbling with strands of embroidery thread anchored down to a clipboard. Kids these days3 are cranking out crazy designs using tools and patterns that require them to plan ahead and follow directions. I love tricking them into developing organizational skills!

4. Lincoln Logs

Find me a youngster that doesn’t enjoy putting together the Shady Pine Homestead and I’ll eat my hat.

5. World Record Paper Airplane Book

What is it with kids and paper airplanes? Oh, right, paper airplanes are fantastic. This book offers 112 ready-to-fold airplanes (complete with colored paper to keep things snazzy), along with facts outlining the basic principles of flight, tips on how to match throwing technique to the right model, and even a flight log for kids to track their progress. That…is adorable.

6. Don’t Let the Pigeon Finish This Activity Book

Repeat after me: Mo Willems does no wrong (he’s that guy pictured above). And lest you think this is just a coloring book, take a gander at this little promotional video to be convinced otherwise.

7. Plush Monster Slippers

Let’s ignore the fact their official product name is “Boys Plush Monster Slippers” (I searched for a girl counterpart to no avail), and instead, think of all of the laughs a couple pairs of these in your house would bring.

8. Crayola Color Wonder Travel Tote

If you’re not familiar with Crayola Color Wonder products, here’s the deal: the Color Wonder markers only write on Color Wonder paper. As in not on your walls, dining room table, car upholstery, child’s skin, etc. Now imagine all of that tucked together in an easy-to-carry tote. Yes, please, and thank you.

9. Classic Marbles

Yep. Just marbles–although this particular set includes 50 glass marbles in a variety of sizes, colors, and finishes. Teach your kids the rules of the game or just pass the bag along and see what they do with them. I promise you, these will be a huge hit.

10. Twist It Up: More than 60 Different Recipes from an Inspiring Young Chef

Time for those kids to get into the kitchen and earn their keep! This book features recipes written by a kid for kids and offers up fun little “twists” (read: ingredients that might actually expand your child’s palate) on go-to kid favorites like pizza, chicken noodle soup, and French toast.

11. Midnight Circus Shadow Puppets

My son is currently obsessed with the concept of shadow puppets but also constantly disappointed in his inability to create anything other than a blobby rabbit with his still-chubby little fingers. I suspect that time spent with these little gems would be nothing but delightful–especially if paired with our last item…

12. LJUSA Flashlight

Awwwww, baby’s first unprounancable IKEA product! But seriously, a hand-crank LED flashlight, guys. Reading in bed after lights out! Flashlight tag with the neighborhood pals! Actually having a flashlight in the house that works because it’s impossible to remember to buy batteries!

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Got gift suggestions of your own? Link it up in the comments!

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  1. If you’re not familiar with GoldieBlox, try going here. I’m still not sure how I feel about the whole concept, but I’m inclined to agree with the thoughts expressed here. I’d love to know your thougts, too. 
  2. Or people, really. 
  3. At least every kid I know. Seriously. Every. single. one. 
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Valerie Catrow

Valerie Catrow is editor of RVAFamily, mother to a mop-topped first grader, and always really excited to go to bed.

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