Book Review: The Handbook of Developmentally Appropriate Toys by Doris Bergen

by Julia DeKorte | 24 Jul 2023

Book Reviews

The Handbook of Developmentally Appropriate Toys written by Doris Bergen is aptly described by Mattia Thibault and featured in the American Journal of Play as “an atlas, which offers us detailed maps and relevant data of the vast territory that is the world of toys.” Dr. Bergen writes with experience and expertise on the many types of toys and how each can be instrumental in the development of children at various ages.


Dr. Doris Bergen attended Heidelberg College and Ohio State University before obtaining her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from Michigan State University. She was a professor of Educational Psychology at Miami University, where she also served as the chair of her department for 11 years. She has written numerous books and received dozens of national honors. Many of her papers can be found in the Archives at the Strong National Museum of Play in Rochester, NY.


Dr. Bergen’s The Handbook of Developmentally Appropriate Toys is structured in chapters that each feature a different kind of toy. Then, the different types of that toy are listed, along with its history and appropriateness for different ages. Dr. Bergen also lists its adaptability for children with special needs, summarizes the main research trends surrounding it, and provides recommendations. Some chapters include toys based on what they represent, like kitchen objects, vehicles, or dolls; toys based on actions they allow children to do, like construction blocks and riding toys; and actions kids can do themselves, like kites or drones. The lists are extensive and comprehensive, yet void of academic jargon, which lends itself to a wider audience.


The Handbook of Developmentally Appropriate Toys is perfect for parents, teachers, and educators who want to curate play time to be developmentally supportive. Readers can find suggestions, recommendations, and examples, but are also encouraged to facilitate playtime in the context of the children they’re working with, because there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to playtime in children. Overall, Dr. Doris Bergen’s handbook is a wonderful guide to play for happy and healthy children.


Adapted from The American Journal of Play

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