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


  • Bellsidor

    It’s fascinating that in the Costa Rican picture they show an African Negro kid instead of a real Costa Rican American child. I wonder what a real Costa Rican American child would have as their personal prized affects?

  • Mark

    Bellsidor ….first the picture is taken in Cahuita, located on the carribean coast and second this kid is not an African negro … He is a mix kid, probably a mix from a mestizo and native indigenous …what a costa rican american child would have? A Costarican kid would probably have the same stuff as the Italian child or Texas or any other kid. I’m a afrocarribean meanning Im black and also from Costa Rica, I believe this pictures were taken base on stereotypes, why not take the picture of a real native from Cahuita ? I bet people will be surprise to see the way they live and what are their most prized possessions

  • Ina

    Moving pictures. I love to travel to see how people in other countries live like how they position their pantry, how they wear certain attire and when. I love the pictures here because it shows the simplicity of the subject and intricacy of objects. I am just glad no one put and iPad as one of their toys!

  • Danielle

    THis is GREAT!
    I can see how some would be sad by this but why? They have the world to play with. Can you imagine the cool games these kids know?
    Mass amounts of toys and things dont make a kid happy. Love does.
    Yes some are in sad conditions but most dont know any better. My point is. Look at what little they have. They covet that one little rubber doesnt get lost in a pile of forgotten American Christmas.

  • Christine Gamble

    Enthralling images of beautiful children in their authentic environment. Beautifully captured by the camera and a sensitive arrangement. Thank you

  • Danielle

    I love these and I want to see more! THis should be a big book collection!

  • What an amazing piece of work. I love the contrast of the different houses and children. Very unique and beautiful.

  • as long i believe that toys help in develop child knowledge but i don’t agree with parent, family who buy toys guns for their kids to play with , what are we teaching this kids, what example are we portray that guns is good, is way of life the you most own one. and how do we justify this child one day taking lay his/ her hand on real gun and thought is the same as toy gun his parent bought him/her in the past and take it to school start shooting his/ her classmate ans other kids. well join me may 4th at colab projects space in Austin for exhibition of art installation and performance and to sign the petition on eradicating guns in our society. links:
    . looking forward to see you there.

  • absolutely touchy, it went totally under my skin

  • My three year old son saw this and was really moved by the pic of Tangawizi in Kenya. He was confused why Tangawizi didn’t have a bed. After we talked about it a little bit, he resolved that he wanted to buy a bed as a present for Tangawizi. I made a deal with him that if he could save up or raise the money to buy the bed, I’d find Tangawizi. Turns out that is a lot harder than I thought…

  • This is a really great idea, good job and congrats 😀

  • Cori

    I really wish that this also had photos of children from around the world that can’t afford or get their hands on barbies and stuffed animals and board games- and shown what THEIR most prized possessions were. Sure this is a great set of photos but I’m really not impressed with it. I would have liked to see more diversity.

  • Some of these are sad, but it’s nice to see they have SOMETHING to give them a little happiness.

  • Daisy

    reoccuring single face of africa – this awful. Awful collection of photos that reinforces world myths. there is so much more to Africa. There are different poverty levels just like other countries. Also what about a black family in a “western country” – you have to be so careful with collections of photos. This is genuinely detrimental.

  • Beautiful Kids 🙂

  • Suzanne

    Thank you for sharing these pics! I wonder how they would compare if you limited each child to pick only their top 3 favorite toys and photograph each of them in their favorite place to play with their toys.

  • Svetlana

    After reading the text I thought, what a great idea. But the first three pictures were disappointing… showing any stereotypes (just look at pictures from Malawi, Italy and Ukraine). By the way, when looking on the friends of my 14-month old son, I am not sure, which of them would be the most representative for our country. The children (with the same economic background!) are so different with their toys, and their behavior… Very ambivalent, this project.

  • A picture truly is worth a thousand words and you captured thousand of words with your shots here. I love photography too and yeah like one of the commentator above said “this is the kind that i love!”

  • ?smayil

    Where is Azerbaijan?

  • Angela

    But all of the toys are basically the same. I was hoping for more. . . vareity somehow. Childhood designed in the West, manufactured in China, and globally purchased. Not the children’s fault, or even the parents. I just thought these pictures would be more. . . diverse, show more uniqueness. Definitely makes me think about my own boys and what they are playing with (consuming? be consumed by?). Such beautiful children.

  • Gino

    Africa is a continent with a over a billion people and a very fast growing middle class, yet all he could photograph was destitute kids; pretty disappointing.

  • This is excellent work. It took some time to see what I was looking at.

    Those people who believe it should be something else, you are welcome to create and publish your own works.

  • It’s quite possible that the children who showed a lot of favorite toys considered them all their favorites.

  • amanda

    This reminds me a lot of the photo series “Where Children Sleep” by James Mollison.
    Very beautiful photos, for both of the stories. Food for thought.

  • Dennis Magdamo

    Excellent work, Gabriele Galimberti. I am looking forward to seeing more photos on this interesting theme. Keep up the great work!

  • Magdalena

    It puts things in perspective… My children dont need everything they will point at. Better few items that they cherish than a bunch they will not respect…
    Thank u for reminding me to appeiciate what i have and not everything i want to have….

  • Very nice set of pictures. Still, it’s very much influenced by the financial status of each family…it would have been good to see average children around all the world – but it’s still a very nice album, thanks a lot for sharing, great idea! Alin

  • nm

    @ gheed, how dumb are you, these kids are in their bedrooms.

  • Kathi

    I see no books as a prized possession. I teach reading and it makes me sad.

  • silver bogg

    les inégalités sociales tout simplement

  • Marc

    Es una repugnancia lo de Pavel de Ukraina, no si queremos la guerra, hemos de educar a nuestros hijos. Por lo visto esto en Ukraina no conocen qué significa.

  • Eleanor Foy

    Remarkable theme! Looking forward to future global awareness pieces.

  • Caribbean Waters

    Mark, you know nothing of Costa Rica or the people native to Costa Rica or ALL of America. Please stop trolling about a subject you obviously want to deride against. Stay across the ocean where you are, where you come from and where you will always be. Political hate trolling on the internet does not help your people or your children or your dark continent. The pic from Texas has a real American child, Mark. That’s what a real American is, not an african, dumbass troll. Yes, Bellsidor, they should have shown a real Costa Rican American child and not a negro import kid such as what they did in fact show.

  • david

    the great thing is, kids don’t give a damn about what all the cynical adults will say about them. they just are who they are and its so pure and honest. im so thankful for kids to keep life bearable.

  • Children i?te.Oyunla grow. Toys will be happy.

  • This is really interesting. They should keep track of these kids, I wonder if what their favourite toys were will have anything to do with what they end up doing in their lives.

  • Tanvisha

    The girl from India is lucky to have all those toys and board games, 90% of children there cannot afford and do not have these expensive toys. He should have gone to the biggest slum of the world and would have been shocked to see how poor these kids are. I know, I am from India.

  • Eva

    Wonderful pictures. The artist clearly connected with his subjects and captured the pride these children feel for their treasure(s). How can you not feel touched looking at these images. I am sure he had a reason for letting them choose the number of treasures they (or their parents) want to portrait. Limiting the kids to just one or two toys might have made the images more powerful, because they would have provide more of an opportunity to see what unites these kids – or not. My sense is that some interesting patterns might have emerged. Then again…. I respect the artists choice. After all, art is about the unique perspective of the artist …. not about science, sociology, psychology, or anything else. Thank you!

  • Mary Promisloff

    The little Thai boy looks just like North Korea’s new “leader”

  • Helen

    Botlhe – Maun, Botswana; this was my favourite photo and put a big smile on my face- Botlhe looks so proud of her toy! Very heartwarming 🙂

  • The kids with less possessions are so cute and happy and the ones with more things seem as if they couldn’t care less! I am disappointed in all the kids in the pictures who didn’t smile or act happy about their prized possessions after what we saw with the poorer kids!

  • zelalem

    This is bullshit. Take a look at Malawi for example. Her legs is dipped in mud and you expect her to have a clean white bunny like what we see on the picture? No!! What the photography probably did is that he gave her the dolls just for the picture

  • Fatmata

    Once again the stereotype of Africa being the poor, helpless continent is perpetuated in these photos. I just came back from Sierra Leone and there are a lot of people living in wealth. There a poor people all over the world. Why is it that the Indian child that was photographed was well-to-do and yet all the African kids were poor? It’s really sad that Westerners only see Africa in one light. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie did a TED Talk on the danger of a single story. “The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.” We really need to realize that the poor, hopeless African is one story about some Africans and not all Africans.

  • Jim Stewart

    I agree with Fatmata. The photos should have been taken of both the rich and the poor. This collection is not complete yet. It looks like a bleeding heart collection.

  • Laura

    I found this photo spread to be a great reminder that childhood is so sweet and innocent. Toys bring comfort, connection & inspire imagination. It’s also a great reminder that all children are their own individuals, with their own interests & points of connection. I was sad to read so many comments that were judgemental or critical of the children for their choice of toys. I think those comments are oppressive and degrading to the children for their personal choices. I also found it interesting how quickly some passed judgement on the artist…commenting on race/social class/etc. It appears to me that they are assuming that the artist purposely “left out” certain groups. Very unfair assumptions. Perhaps the artist chose the most “middle class” of each society…we wouldn’t know w/out actually asking the artist.

  • lovely article. really makes you think. I often thought when travelling that those with less cherished, polished, loved them more. Recently I felt this while at a friend house. They had so many presents for Christmas they hardly even looked at them. Perhaps one present would have been enough I reflected.

  • eva celeste

    En este articulo hay fotos que muestran la verdadera pobreza , situación que yo siendo de un país pobre como es la República Dominicana desconozco. Una de las imágenes que mas me conmovió fue la del nino de Kenya, de verdad que me conmovió el alma, este tipo de cosas me hace reflexionar sobre mi vida y que tanto necesito para ser feliz.

  • cool .,.,u remind me my childhood and my toys .,great works.,

  • laura

    one might think that americans would be more materialistic, but i think many people would be surprised. i remember that for a long time my favorite toys were a pringles can full of marbles, and a box full of polished rocks. i think a lot of the materialism we see today comes from the thought that children must have the coolest, newest toys to be happy. really, all they need is an imagination, which, sadly, is being killed off by the ipad.

  • Miss Pegasus

    This is absolutely amazing, loved it!
    I think this is a great project.

    And to those few people who HAVE to go and make something racist about this beautiful project – damn you -, and @Chad Marshal and @ Fowzia, I live in South Africa, and it’s completely naive to think there’s a bunch of millionaires walking around. Yes there are millionaires, but they’re not a depiction of the majority of Africa at all; Why would you go and specifically search out a millionaire while 90% of Africa lives in poverty. Cause damn people wake up that is Africa for you. People get ripped of by the governments and have to suffer under the poorest conditions you can imagine. That has nothing to do with race, it has to do with a corrupted continent, where the rich feeds of the poor.
    End of rant.

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