For adults addicted to Candy Crush, television, or other forms of screen-driven entertainment, it can be hard to remember the days when a simple toy car or plastic castle could provide hours of intense imaginative play. A new series by photographer Gabriele Galimberti documents kids from around the world with their most prized possessions, from Lego pirates to baby dolls and drum sets to sunglasses, reminding us of the fun that can be had without pixels.
Galiberti began the series while documenting couch surfers around the world for Italian magazine D, la Repubblica. He started snapping the children of families he was staying with, arranging their toy collections in neat patterns. Soon, he’d shot children in 58 countries, from Switzerland to Zambia. The photo series evolved into his new book, Toy Stories: Photos of Children from Around the World and Their Favorite Things.
While undeniably adorable, the series is also a poignant meditation on materialism in various cultures, revealing how attitudes toward owning things are shaped from an early age. Many of the kids from wealthier countries are drowning in so many toys, it’s hard to imagine they actually play with all of them. Other children’s collections are more modest, consisting of just a few toys–or, in the case of three-year-old Mandy in a Zambian village, a collection of sunglasses found discarded on the side of a road, proving that kids can learn to entertain themselves with almost anything. Regardless of the bulk of their bounty, these kids all share an expression of pride in the little slice of the physical world that they can call their own.
Toy Stories: Photos of Children from Around the World and Their Favorite Things is available for $18 here.