Today there was a great article in the NY Times about one NYPL branch that lends out an American Girl doll. Yes, "an." A single doll. As most of you know, these are incredibly expensive dolls, sold with expensive accessories at a store which includes a cafe for tea with your doll and a hair salon - for the doll! Each doll comes with a set of books and has a back story, each set in a different time and place in American history.
There are so many things I love about the idea of lending one of these dolls out. I love that children of all different backgrounds are borrowing the same doll and returning her with accessories and clothes from their own cultures. I love that despite the "children getting older younger" phenomenon, girls as old as eleven are still playing with dolls, as they should. (I've noticed that in older books about dolls, the girls who play with them are almost always older than the age at which girls allegedly outgrow dolls today.)
My daughter devours the American Girl books, which are a great introduction to historical fiction. But she has no idea there are corresponding dolls. There is no promotional material in the books other than the picture on the cover, which looks like the corresponding doll. But if you don't know about the doll, then it's just a regular book cover.
I know there are other places in the country and around the world that have toy libraries, as I mentioned briefly here. I know a lot of them cater to children with special needs, but just like a typical library, a toy library could serve all children. I'd love to have my kids try out toys before I buy them, which is essentially what I do when I watch them carefully to see what they play with at other people's houses!
Maybe this article will encourage more libraries to lend out toys. After all, they lend music and movies and music scores. Why not toys?
Have you ever been to a toy library? Does your town have a toy library? Do you wish it did?