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


  • KK

    What stood out for me were the Asian girls. They probably boast the most toys but their stuff consist of games. Games are known to stimulate cognition at impressionable ages.

  • Growing up in rural Kenya was the best thing that happened to my imagination. I got the chance to do carvings from soapstone which my tribe is globally renown for. Life was monetary very poor but socially very rich. Society raises up kids and many people cant understand what this means except if you have ever visited. Africa has great economic potential, but we have poor leadership, tribalism and we adjust and accept poverty as part of us as long as our tribal leaders are stealing and living lavishly on our behalf. That is the bit I REJECT.

  • MrZ

    Although the amount of possessions that kids have does not say anything about the happiness of these kids. I grew up in Africa too, had a very happy childhood with little or no toys at all.

  • Moving images. It made me think back on my favorite toys as a kid and other than my LEGOs, my most prized possession was my bike.

  • lets take to notice that the child from Massa, Morocco has featured school related items in the photograph as one of their most prized possessions.

  • Jerry

    first of all, kudos to the editors involved for coming up with this priceless article.

    makes us realize that every culture is different.

    children are so cute, and considering their toys as their prized possessions, makes me wonder how they handle things well at a tender age.

    don’t discriminate anyone by their skin color!

    and this goes for all of you who are going through any sort of downs in their lives, STOP, TAKE A DEEP BREATH, AND GO READ THIS ARTICLE. this article will definitely make you feel better. as to how kids in poor countries have very less privileges still they are so happy. really.

    and for those of you out there who are showing despise and hate towards this pavel from ukraine… stop with all the negativity about him! so what if he has guns as his favorite toys. it’s his personal choice what. and he very well knows that those guns will not harm anyone. toy guns they are.

    think. reflect. create.

    i love this article.

    *sends world peace*

  • CuteKitsune

    Nice ^^ kids are beautiful no matter where they are from 🙂

  • A great collection! I loved to see these kids

  • What an amazing photo series. I still keep a bunch of my childhood toys!

  • matik57

    This was a very good set of pics with the children. they really stand out! good work on these.

  • On the road

    Well said Ginger. Thank you for opening a window on a perspective often dismissed.

  • I don’t have time to read all the comments to see if anyone else replied to A-nony-mice’s assertion that there are no Native children. You know, like the black children in Africa. I’ll give you China because she looks Han and there are certainly other, more marginalised, indigenous ethnicities there, but it’s a little bit disingenous to claim that none of them are Native! You know it doesn’t just mean Native American, right?

  • Those with fewer items must concentrate their love.

  • Javier

    Arafa & Aisha – Bububu, Zanzibar epic one, with the classic Skeletor from He-Man!!!!

  • claire

    Brilliant photos, very moving.

  • No Face

    These photos are lovely, but how about a tom girl? I know when I was little my prized possession would have been my dog & I certainly would not be inside. If it were an object when I was little it would have been my dinosaurs. Also are a couple of these posed? I would like to see something that make no sense and point out of people are complicated. Just because a little girl has blonde hair and lives in a castle does not mean she think of herself as a princess. Some of them seem a bit forced, but beautiful at the same time.
    Just a few thoughts,
    No face

  • Joan Morris

    I showed this to my daughter Rose (7) and this is what she said:
    this is very pretty.I think it gives a lot of different emotions and feelings.fab

  • Maria Salomao-Schmidt

    These are incredibly beautiful and telling. I love, love, loved looking at them!

    Great big hugs,
    (currently in Portugal)

  • noemí caminoa

    brought tears and deep thoughts…. so much to say about dinosaurs, weapons, lovely cows, simple toys, media products, lack of roots, sweet teddy bears , stereotype dolls,……….. childhood is such sensible ground! dear beauties, dear little ones! what a world to grow up in! Wonderful idea these photos, would like to see more of it!!!!

  • juan duran

    Look at the kids facial expressions. Which seem happier than others? Say much?

  • Kurichan

    These pictures are museum pieces. The subjects are medium. The commentators are, for lack of a better analogy, the world rustling at the newsstand. There is nothing “natural” about any of this, except the constant talking and observing from inside the glass. Kids don’t pose with toys unless adults are present, they ARE toys; adults generally forget entirely that they are playing all the time with toys. But the reflection seems awkward, so they pretend that they are something else, doing something else. When my children played with toys at this age, they were gods, they didn’t need historians.

  • this is amazing and I feel bad for some of those kids just look at their rooms!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • well I think the one with pink all over is the happiest

  • Not surprised they didn’t take any pictures of kids in LA. Not that hard to get a picture of a toddler and their iPad…lol

  • Adrianne McArthur

    Happiness is relative. I don’t think we can make those judgement calls, but I do think that this is an extremely interesting photo collection & I would love to see more – maybe even a book?

  • Discovery Queen

    I would have liked to see Iran, Afghanistan, Yemen, Israel.
    I am so inspired by the girl from Botswana. She only has one monkey, nothing else, not even shoes, yet she is so happy, smiling so widely.

  • Kate

    lol man. The African… are you really African? Because yea.. then you would know that the horn of Africa has a major drought problem. Many countries on the African continent have food shortages, genocide, refugee camps.. really do I need to go on? My mother lives on the African continent… I lived there as well and so did my best friend! This is reality! We are trying to help you and some of your countries kill you off, abuse you, corrupt the media! I could do a lit of the countries who have major issues with poverty but the list is longer than the countries who are “rich”. Lets see umm Morocco. Djibouti has money but they certainly wont use the rent money we pay them for the drone bases to help their own people. This we hate westerners crap gets old. First off we escaped the British too. That is why we came to America! We are not trying to do anything as you accuse us. But we do have a saying “you can’t have your cake and eat it too” so gladly ask your respective countries to stop taking our aid or stop complaining about us being there. You guys can go back to killing each other and we can stop being the “bad guys” for helping. Oh and your welcome for all the money, food, and yea those bananas we buy that help keep African countries economies afloat.

  • deborah

    I would like to purchase these photos in book form. Is this available?

  • Phyllis

    I wonder what toys and/or possessions children would choose if they could
    pick whatever they wanted from the items other children have showing. That
    would be interesting to me.
    There are so many letters commenting on the photos, that it is impossible
    to read them all. So much interest!

  • There were a lot of intriguing contrasts and omissions here, some of which were depressing, like the lack of books, and the two Italian children – one all frou-frous and frothy fashion and the other with a pragmatic wheelbarrow and useful tools. I was also surprised at the small number of electronic gadgets – I only saw 1 TV. Pavel of the Ukraine made me very very sad with his armoury of weapons.

  • Jan Iwanik

    Three most beautiful things in the world: children, play and private property.

  • Joshua Bauer

    It’s amazing how some kids just have one thing yet there’re still happy and content.

  • SLT

    To see a black kid with a white Barbie doll just breaks my heart TOO much.

  • Flora Fernández

    Very creative work. Makes one think how thing you belong actually belong you. Its a terrible impact Pavel from Ukraine, nothing to blame on him but his surroundings. Also makes one’s tenderness grow when hearing poor children with little possessions being generous and happy with so little. Many lessons to learn, that’s why this job has such high impact.

  • anne milewski

    beautiful, moving study. Thank you. May children always be able to find some kind of play.

  • anne milewski

    @SLT: Children are less hung up on the color of their toys than the adults around them.

  • Well, this about broke my heart

  • aylen

    Good try.. but whats fun in clicking pics of some poor kids with toys..its not called creative..playing with the poor ones only to get fame…. total dislike..

  • James

    Too bad you can’t photograph contentment.

  • Childhood Memory

    A memory brought so much
    The joy we shared
    We were rich in toys
    and products of nature

    The mud and rock with both hands
    Listening to stories under a tree
    Were equally enjoyable then
    That is a bond if I may call it

    Playing hide and seek “Kukululu”
    The places we went
    Jumping into a pond
    The entire frolic I remember …

  • I just showed this to my daughter. Our financial situation has changed recently and I wanted her to see how kids live and love (their toys) in all different ways.

  • The whole of last week my elder son
    Wayne went baserk over a small gun
    toy I had bought him a few days
    ago. To illustrate his disatisfaction,
    he attempted to flash it down the
    drain but been plastic it wont go.
    Offcourse I punished him for that
    since he has several other playing
    toys including a set of a real PTT
    gadget (Push To Talk) which he calls
    me on within a 500meters radious.
    Now I bought him a toys ‘doctor
    set’ and a Learning Computer P200.
    Some cheap but very good
    multimedia learning system for kids
    as young as 3yrs. Then I bumped on
    this link here and wondered if we
    are doing the best to raise our kids
    and possibly to make them
    reputable citizens in future.

  • Andrew

    Beautiful work! Both, sad and inspiring. I’ve been lucky enough to travel a little to a few different parts of the world. In my experience, a previous post was right(ish), their substance does not always reflect their happiness. I wish more American children and teenagers could see how happy people can be with so little to call their own.

  • Wajahat

    A great collection, a great job.

  • judy

    This is fabulous.
    my fave: Alessia with her cows and her plastic farm implements.

  • Sorry but I really think it is such a pity and a missed opportunity that the children are posing instead of playing.

  • Randy

    One white male and he’s surrounded with toy guns. Nice propaganda-pushing agenda.

  • think different got success thats it said

  • onuphrius

    You know, Randy, where that kid is from they don’t have that gun control debate at all. Not to mention there’s another white boy – the one with the dragons and dinosaurs. So you’re not making much sense, are you.

  • Xavier

    Am I the only one who took a look at Watcharapom and thought he was from Korea because he looks a bit like Kim Jong Un?

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