Photos of Children From Around the World With Their Most Prized Possessions

{originally by Amanda Gorence for Feature Shoot}

Alessia – Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy

Shot over a period of 18 months, Italian photographer Gabriele Galimberti’s project Toy Stories compiles photos of children from around the world with their prized possesions—their toys. Galimberti explores the universality of being a kid amidst the diversity of the countless corners of the world; saying, “at their age, they are pretty all much the same; they just want to play.” 

But it’s how they play that seemed to differ from country to country. Galimberti found that children in richer countries were more possessive with their toys and that it took time before they allowed him to play with them (which is what he would do pre-shoot before arranging the toys), whereas in poorer countries he found it much easier to quickly interact, even if there were just two or three toys between them.

There were similarites too, especially in the functional and protective powers the toys represented for their proud owners. Across borders, the toys were reflective of the world each child was born into—economic status and daily life affecting the types of toys children found interest in. Toy Stories doesn’t just appeal in its cheerful demeanor, but it really becomes quite the anthropological study. 

Cun Zi Yi – Chongqing, China

Julia – Tirana, Albania

Botlhe – Maun, Botswana

Keynor – Cahuita, Costa Rica

Bethsaida – Port au Prince, Haiti

Chiwa – Mchinji, Malawi

Arafa & Aisha – Bububu, Zanzibar

Tangawizi – Keekorok, Kenya

Watcharapom – Bangkok, Thailand

Stella - Montecchio, Italy

Shaira – Mumbai, India

Pavel – Kiev, Ukraine


Norden – Massa, Morocco

Personal Reflection:

"Galimberti found that children in richer countries were more possessive with their toys... whereas in poorer countries he found it much easier to quickly interact, even if there were just two or three toys between them."

This is an interesting observation. Even as children, we tend to become too attached to our material possessions when we live in abundance. Living in a culture of consumerism means we feel insecure when threatened by the idea of someone taking away our material possesions because we have been taught to believe that they are a significant part of our lives and our identity. All  the more reason why I am inspired by Graham Hill, a successful entrepreneur who now chooses to live a simpler and less cluttered life because he felt "...stuff ended up running my life, or a lot of it; the things I consumed ended up consuming me." (Living with Less. A Lot Less. New York Times)

This reflects our relationship with dunya. The more things we have the more attached we are to dunya and become heedless about the hereafter.
"The mutual rivalry for piling up of worldly things diverts you..."{Surah At-Takathur, 102:1}
"Allah extends provision for whom He wills and restricts [it]. And they rejoice in the worldly life, while the worldly life is not, compared to the Hereafter, except [brief] enjoyment." {Surah Ar-Rad. 13:26}

This is not to say being wealthy is not commendable in Islam but we should understand the wealth or provision (rizq) we have been given is a trust (amanah) from God. And when we see others who have less wealth than us we shouldn't look down on them because it is due to Allah's wisdom that different people are in different situations. Everything is from God and "having less" is a matter of perspective.

Also, did you notice only one child selected books to be part of his collection of prized possessions? No doubt it is perfectly normal for children to love their toys but books (and reading) can be fun too, no?

I enjoyed reading through the comments in the original post. Despite the various observations and commentaries we can sum up from the photos all the kids are cute in their own way. Check out more photos from the Toy Stories project. 


Wan Melissa said…
This is a beautiful post and such a good reminder to let go of our attachment to material possessions to lead a happier, peaceful life. By the way, I remember how you loved to read as a child. The books were your 'toys' and 'prized possession'. You would often get restless if you did not have something to read. Even when you were sitting in the car on the way to school, you just had to read something. Otherwise you would complain of being bored! So if you were one of the children featured in this post, I reckon that you would have certainly been surrounded with lots and lots of books :)
Shahirah Elaiza said…
@Wan Melissa, I remember having a lot of toys and books as a child but I loved reading and colouring a lot more :) In fact, I still love reading and being creative until today :) When I think of my childhood I feel extremely blessed but at the same time it's hard to accept other children didn't or don't get to experience such a wonderful childhood. That's the tough thing about being a grown up - realising the world has too many problems :(
Gary said…
Such an interesting post, and a fascinating observation into how important possessions should be to people. I too noticed how few books there were, but was also very concerned at not just how many guns one child had, but that they were his only toy.
Shahirah Elaiza said…
@Gary, and that "no nonsense" look on his face is priceless! Is the focus on guns (albeit they are toys) something to be concerned about? Are we as concerned about violent video games played by teenagers?
washi said…
I agree with Wan Melissa, this is a beautiful post!

I remember when my husband and I were introduced, he was shy to meet me because he felt he was "too poor" for me. SubhanaAllah this statement from one of the most intelligent, educated and Deen-rich individuals that I know. At that time, I too said to him that rich and poor is a personal perspective.

On a side note, books were my most prized possessions too. I always let my sisters mess with my crayons and dolls, but not my books :)
;) said…
this is such an interesting projects! thanks for sharing it!! :)
im checking the website for more projects
Ayuni A. said…
Amazing project. And very insightful too. The boy from Ukraine looks disturbing though, he is so fond of weaponry. huhu..

As a mom I always believe that store-bought toys are not the main medium for children to learn, anything around them is actually a learning opportunity. These days children are too occupied with gadgets like smart phones and Ipads, I hope I don't fall into the same trap with my children. Although I agree that those gadgets makes an excellent distraction (especially when I needed her to stay still), I try my best not to let her become too attached to it. It's not easy but I think it's worth the effort.

I wish these days parents do not forget about the importance of learning from experience, especially through all the 5 senses which is much more important to build their knowledge and personality.

Great post Sha, as usual your posts always make my brains exercise. It's good! Haha. Take care!