Boys and Toys

Des Jouets et des hommes” (Of Toys and Men), at the Grand Palais, presents a history of toys in the Western world and spotlights their importance in children’s education right from birth. The show runs through January 23.

Boys had the neatest things to play with growing up. Coming from a family of girls, the closest we got to toys outside the realm of dolls was exploring the woods around our house, making up adventure or mystery stories and building forts. We were lucky.

“Of Toys and Men” shows how much toys are a defining influence in early childhood development. The exhibits are thematic, not chronological. The themes are design, animals, lifelike toys, gender bias and the media age. They also include ritualized gifts, animals, vocations, war toys and an interactive exhibition.

Plato is quoted as saying that girls imitate the comfort of the home or the convent. Boys are into war and building things to meet the challenges and discovery of the world at large and its threats.

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