Playing is one of the most natural ways for kids to learn.
That’s the theory behind Child Wonder the World, a bright, cozy, global-themed toy store that opened in August in the Seahurst neighborhood of Burien. (Speaking of Burien, here’s a rundown of what else to do while you’re there.)
More than a shop, it’s also a place to play.
Once you’ve ducked under the ivy-covered entryway, there’s a whole mini-world to explore: a Moroccan vegetable market, a Ghanaian earth home, a Mexican clay oven, a zen sand garden and multicultural dolls just waiting to play their parts in a child’s story.
Owner Giselle Fuerte wants families to come and be immersed in cultures that are unfamiliar to them. The exhibits have informational signage and play prompts and will be rotated to highlight different parts of the world. There’s a media room with music, books and a reading nook.
The inspiration for Child Wonder the World? “There’s a whole great, big world out there,” Fuerte says. “Western culture is one of the valid ways to do things, but not the only way.”
“I want kids to grow up not thinking that people from elsewhere are ‘The Other,’ ” she adds.
Fuerte, a White Center resident and mom to a 6-year-old and 3-year-old twins, has been working on the store and play space since last winter after realizing that her work as a software developer was “not fulfilling my purpose.”
“Research shows that when children of color play with toys and characters that look like them, it builds their self-esteem and lays the foundation for leadership skills,” Fuerte wrote in the announcement of her new venture. “And white children develop compassion for other races when they see positive representations of people of color in media and toys.”
Fuerte has a master’s degree in teaching English as a second language and has cowritten a book, The Lying Liar Called Racism: A Love Letter, which gently introduces kids to the concept of racism. (“It’ll try to make you feel small, powerless, and bad about yourself. Never fear, though …”)
Fuerte identifies as Afro-Latin and spent part of her childhood in Panama. She also started a business called Real Life Bricks after her son noticed that the figurines in LEGO sets didn’t look like him. Real Life Bricks customizes the bricks with different skin tones and sells them online.
Merchandise at Child Wonder the World includes toys, games, books, dolls, clothing and jewelry, and Fuerte explains that everything “is bought either from people native to that country or someone legitimately working with them in an ethical and fair-trade manner.”
COVID precautions at Child Wonder the World include capacity limits, mandatory masks for those 3 and older, frequent disinfection of surfaces and an industrial-strength air purifier.
The play space is available for drop-in play for a fee for the entire day, and kids must be supervised by an adult.
This story was first published on Aug. 31, 2021.
More in Shop Local: