IMAGINATION, NOT PRICE, IS WHAT COUNTS

15 Nov IMAGINATION, NOT PRICE, IS WHAT COUNTS

This article reminds us of what we often forget when we are overwhelmed by a glorious toy department.

IMAGINATION, NOT PRICE, IS WHAT COUNTS

A cardboard box, a stick and a blanket. These are a few of our favorite things.  At least if you are a kid.  So say the gurus at the National Toy Hall of Fame, who added the box in 2005 and the stick in 2008. The blanket — along with Hot Wheels and the dollhouse — are the 2011 inductees.

Linus would be pleased. But the Peanuts’ character is not the only child to have used a blanket for everything from a tablecloth to a superhero’s cape. Come to think of it, a blanket also makes a remarkably agile transition from the toddler’s game of peek-a-boo to a tent under which books can be read by flashlight after curfew.

Christopher Bensch, vice president of collections at the National Museum of Play, says blankets have been “heating up kids’ imaginations” for years.

With a blanket, a child’s fantasy sets the agenda — not a toy manufacturer with an eye to selling those all important accessories. Some name-brand goodies have made the Hall of Fame list, including Barbie, Tinkertoy, Monopoly, Frisbee and Slinky. Toys are judged based on whether they are widely recognized, remain popular for generations and foster learning, creativity or discovery through play. No book is in this hall of fame, which is a rotten shame.

Blankets won’t be included in many letters to Santa. And no Santa worth his sleigh would expect squeals of delight when junior tears off the colored paper and finds … a nice stick from the backyard.

But as parents cruise the toy stores in weeks to come, it is worth remembering that sometimes the simple things do the most to spark spontaneous play. You can spend a ton of money on that electronic gizmo only to find out your 4-year-old prefers to huddle under his blanket and play with the box the robot came in.

If that happens, at least you know these mundane things are bona fide members of the Toy Hall of Fame.