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

Chiwa – Mchinji, Malawi

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.

Stella – Montecchio, Italy

Pavel – Kiev, Ukraine

Arafa & Aisha – Bububu, Zanzibar

Cun Zi Yi – Chongqing, China

Bethsaida – Port au Prince, Haiti


Botlhe – Maun, Botswana

Watcharapom – Bangkok, Thailand

Alessia – Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy

Norden – Massa, Morocco

Julia – Tirana, Albania

Keynor – Cahuita, Costa Rica

Shaira – Mumbai, India

Tangawizi – Keekorok, Kenya


  • Nai

    I agree with you, Randy (among other sceptics here) that this is a piece of propaganda. Photography as polemic. No problem with that, personally, but if they think we can’t spot it and don’t know what’s going on, well, that gets on my tits. We are NOT stupid.

  • Nai

    @Yeshi Gemaneh. What a lot of shite. Spare us your heart-on-sleeve, cheesy, luminous, feel-the-flatness-of-the-floor, new-age, I’m-in-tune-with-my-moon bollocks, please.

  • Nai

    I see that this site it “moderated”. Censorship in action. The very thing that the loony left protests about when it is used against them, but which they are prepared to use when they don’t like a dissenting voice. I speak as a non-loony leftie. We shall see how many of my posts are “approved” by the thought police.

  • I almost never cry, now i just did. Amazing idea, great photos

  • Pete

    Where are the amazing home made improvised toys kids in countries like Kenya play with? Balls made out of plastic bags and cars made out of wire and bottle caps? I’ve never seen a kid from a mud hut with a big plush toy.

  • Mofsound

    Watcharapom is about ready to bust a Gangnam style dance. Looks like Psy’s long lost son.

  • Me

    Nice picture, but it feel wrong at the very first picture….
    I recall my favorite toy,,, was playing ALL the time with it… everywhere….

    First picture show a white teddy bear….

    If I had a white teddy bear, AND that’s my favorite toy, I would bring it outside, play with it, get some stain,,, and it WOULDN’T look brand new….

    The dinosaure look like it saw some action… that make sense… even the blanket behind has some stain… but the white teddy bear,,, it just look fake to me that it’s has been played with a lot…. Unless he’s a collector and want it to stay like new…
    My kid has many toy,,, and you can tell which one is her favorite by which is in bad shape by too many cuddle, food that felt on, and that went outside to play with…

  • Me

    I see the comment # 391 noticed the same thing….
    The really sad part of all forum when you can express a comment is that everyone want to say something, but a really small minority want to read other’s comment.

    I did read about 80, and there’s over 400… sorry for the comment #30 to #370, it’s too much work to read you all…

  • Chiwa of Malawi looks sad.. Its seems something is missing for his happiness despite of toys. Very touchy. Great idea!! Different places gives different environment for the child…

  • Flowaluva

    I would love to see children of the Pacific here, it seems that only Africa, Asia, Europe and The USA are shown. There is a whole lot more to the world than those places…
    To me the important thing is that our imagination is stimulated by our toys, not the monetary value of our toys. The toys in these pictures don’t show us the variety of play that each child can have with their toys.
    A fantastic photo-essay nonetheless.

  • Kyle

    look at all the pictures, and read about each child. much more interesting

  • Anete

    Thanks for works, wonderful collection!

  • Zac

    I think it’s awesome that the girls from Zanzibar have a Skeletor from Heman.

  • redbus

    Very nice photo.s of the kids and their toys they love.

  • Cun Zi Yi – Chongqing, China
    She is the cutest thing ever!

  • Children no matter where they are livening; they all have the same feelings and they had the same needs. Children love to play, they enjoy having new things: such as toys and clothes, and they need care and love. Unfortunately there are many children around the world who are not entitled to such opportunities, there are many left behind and in a very sad situation. I think those less fortunate ones are waiting to hear from well to do environment and that would give them encouragement and promote them for better tomorrow.

    Imagine especially when they get ill and hungry? Not getting the treatment they deserve and not having proper food or nutrition. I think when one succeeds or get happy it would be a joy for others as well. In many instances, many less fortunate children despite their circumstances they sustaining the hardship and promote themselves for better, in addition when hands stretching things are changing at faster path.

    One of the great asset to invest on children would be education, if education is facilitate and get adequate books that will give them hope to change their future. It is only a matter of building networking, it could be done nothing is impossible when there is will power.

  • Jonathan

    I hope nobody thinks Pavel is indicative of some kind of violent gun culture in Ukraine. Pavel just so happens to have toy guns, as could any kid from many countries. Ukraine does not have a gun culture by any means.

  • ruth ripard

    … saddest photo is from Texas… poor child who thinks guns are toys… shame on his parents

  • Jo Anne Short

    these are amazing pictures!

  • Melanee Packard

    I’d love to have addresses for the poorer children so that we could send them some toys!!! What a moving piece! And I agree with Ruth…all those guns…desensitizing your child to violence is NEVER a good thing and rarely has a good outcome. Do the research; they’re more aggressive and less compassionate than their counterparts.

  • Great Photos! So touching to see some of these children with such meager possessions 🙁

  • this is huge …
    Wow …
    I hope, I could see some photos from Iranian Children .

  • victoria the ukrainian

    sad that the Ukrainian kid is exposed here as a future sharpshooter. but generally it is a nice set of pictures, a good motivation for thinking. and it is not about the geography or economical poverty of some countries. it is about the fact that there are still persons / families / nations who need to be supported


  • i wanted correct a mistake : not the material value but for the good times that they bring their treasure.

  • Axis

    I can’t believe how much you people managed to ruin a neat photography project with your ridiculous biases and assumptions. All of the photos were very clearly posed, and the children probably chose their favorites themselves. When I go to my littles cousin’s house she wants to show me every last one of her toys that are new since I was last there. Just because a young boy has guns doesn’t mean anything. EVERY little boy I know likes toy guns. The point of the project was to show that kids, wherever they are, are basically the same. Read the actual article before making an uninformed comment.

  • Awesome set of pics! I think all kids who are born in this world with a silver spoon in their mouth should see these pics! All kids should be GRATEFUL for what they have, instead of complaining for what they don’t have!

    I truly feel for those kids in the world that have little or nothing, I grew up with very little, what I did have I was very grateful to have and took good care of it.
    It bothers me at times when I see kids that take things for granted. My prayers go out to the kids that have never been able to live life.

    God loves ALL the children in the world!

  • davidlamb

    Well, for certain, the Morocco, the Thailand, the China, and the India ones were all from upper-class children (because I’ve lived in all these places). So from a “perspective” standpoint, I don’t think this is really that kind of photo-essay. It is fun to see, but I wouldn’t read much more into it than something fun to view.

  • Grace

    It is more than the kids looking happy, they are looking proud. Picture adults from around the world standing next to their cars.
    P. S. Now think about the gender stereotyping of the cars and their owners.

  • Debbie Roley

    Beautiful images of childhood

  • Diane

    I do have to laugh at some of the comments here. NOT everyone around the world is going to know where Texas is, but they know where the USA is. I married an American, he was so proud that he was able to tell me all 10 provinces but only 2 territories, we do have 3 here. Yet I was able to tell him all 50 states without more than a breath, now we’re talking someone who has a degree from Stanford to my high school diploma, it’s kinda sad that university grads in the US truly know so little of the world beyond the US borders. My husband educated himself about things outside his walls to prove to me that he knew more, so now he does and doesn’t have such a narrow mind about the world around him. I do find the little boy from the Ukraine to be a little disturbing though, sad that a young boys favorite toys are all about violence. Yes little boys do have a fasination with guns, I personally never allowed my son to own any but his made his own out of wood and sticks, his dad was military but it was not a part of life I wanted to instill in him at a young age, he is now in his 30’s and guns are not a part of his life for which I am grateful.

  • JuliusSD

    Curious… so you are telling me that in a nation like Botswana (with levels of development similar to Mexico, Chile or Romania) kids cannot afford more toys than those children living in fcked up countries like India, Thailand, Ukraine, etc…?

  • Carole

    Simultaneously moving and haunting.

  • SephX

    Damn… to think there are right now millions of kids like the “weapons kid” right now, waiting to grow up to become another merciless killer for the army. saaad.

  • AK

    Go to the main blog and look at the rest of the photos before you make such hateful comments. And to those talking crap about the kids themselves….. Karma comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes.

  • AK

    To the people that want to be mean to a child named Pavel, who looks like he is all of 6 years old…. Did you read this?

    Pavel doesn’t have any doubts: he wants to be a police man.

    So, now who is the mean and violent one? The child that wants to grow up and become a police man? Or the adults that made fun of him and accused him of being mean, angry, and dangerous?

    Sheesh people! These are kids! Some have almost nothing to call their own, and yet people poke fun and act like assholes. You may think someone else is the problem with this world, but the truth is that you are the problem.

  • Allan

    I didn’t know that Texas is a country!

  • Luis Miguel Román

    nice pictures… you can notice how reality can affect children’s minds… for example: kids in Ucrania play with guns and kids in China play with educational things…

  • I love these. Reading the comments, it’s clear that people can’t help but study them and draw conclusions about different countries from them. I understand the impulse. But if this was a scientific study, you’d be silly to draw conclusions with such a tiny sample size. No one kid can represent his/her entire country’s socio-economic situation or whatever else we want to read into these. I’d love to see this collection expanded (because it is beautiful and pleasing to look at) to include a number of kids from each country represented (because that would add more layers to this complex global story).

  • Lou

    WOW. Just read the original Blog where there are many more adorable children and their toys- as well as expanded bios on each of the kids pictured above. About Orly, the boy from Brownsville Texas, comes this haunting note:
    Orly was born in Browsville from a Mexican mother and American father.
    He has never been in Mexico, 2 miles south of his house and his mother hopes that he will never go there because, she says, it is a dangerous place.
    He loves dinosaurs. He says that those that fly over his bed protect him from ghosts and from the mexican people that might kidnap him.

  • Leonel

    Pone en perspectiva las posesiones, entre mas tienes mas quieres. Eso si, la niñez universal, los anhelos, son los mismos estés en donde estés.

  • Tommie

    Have any of you seen that “Twilight Zone” episode where the little girl has a collection of dolls? Turns out, these were all former baby-sitters that the girl would transform because she didn’t want them to leave. She just wanted to have a friend, and to be loved. It was obvious that she had been regularly neglected and ignored by her parents, because she had so many of them.
    I did a tour of East Africa where the little boys in the small villages made cars, jeeps, tanks, motorcycles, airplanes, etc. out of discarded tin cans and plastic bottles. Talk about creativity.

  • Leona Gardiner

    Would permission be required to print any of these photos to be used by a nonprofit organization that will be raising funds for charities around the world? We hope to post some photos on a bulletin board at our fundraiser. Hopefully the photographer can answer my question.

  • Adele

    I think a little was lost by the formulaic way the possessions were displayed. I would have liked to see them set up by the children themselves, to get a sense of HOW they each used and treasure these prized items – do they lay them out carefully, proudly show them off to the camera, toss them together in a heap or hold them close. That may have given some of these images a more authentic flavour and a sense that we had been given a glimpse into their world, rather than intruding upon it somehow. But nonetheless, a really interesting concept, some beautiful shots and certainly plenty of food for thought.

  • starcraft

    Great work! They are all children, they all like to play (our common humanity) Only one child was wearing shoes. Does not wearing shoes makes one “poor”..?

  • Alphabet Soup

    Beuatful photos and outstanding work by a very talented photographer.

    I am perplexed by the many comments from people who are stereotyping not only the children depicted in the photos but also the parents.


    Most children DON’T play with toys, some play outside, some love to draw, others create and a few sit in front of the television or videogames. If you ask them what TOYS they prefer, they will show you most of them.

    A lot of comments are from people who believe that all children from around the world should have similarities?

    The world is diverse, cultures are different. Who gives a hoot what toys children play with and how the photographer set them up?
    Some of them probably didn’t smile because they were shy not because they are sad for having too many (multicultural) Barbies.

    How can a 4 year old be materialtistic or a gangster?!!

    Photography is art.

  • James

    The kid Pavel from Ukraine would be kicked out of school and placed in juvenile detention here in the US under Obama.

  • j.pan

    I love the pictures of all the children and being able to see their preferences. It was interesting to see a little into their lives. I especially like the photo of the boy from Morocco and the view from his window.

  • IrishYank2

    Wow. Your comment is stupid at best.

  • IrishYank2

    How can you ever know what his mother experienced in Mexico? If you knew where Brownsville, Texas was, then you’d know that it lies across the border from Matamoros. It’s not a very safe town and gun/grenade attacks are pretty regular with the drug cartels battling the govt. and one another. You can be an idealogue on global sensitivity, but it clouds accurate judgment of specific situations.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get some visual inspiration into your day!