Toy Test: The ultimate holiday shopping list

Jump-start your holiday shopping with winners from the 2009 National Parenting Publications Awards competition.

With 19 years of experience selecting the top children’s products, NAPPA’s team of expert judges-with help from parent and child testers-offer their top picks, setting the gold standard in children’s learning and entertainment. The experts have selected the best from more than 1,000 products to help you find the right gifts for holiday fun and throughout the year.

You’ll find more sure-bets for kids among the NAPPA Honors winners highlighted at You can also download shopping lists from each category of NAPPA Gold Award winners. Learn more about the judges and get more details about the products included on the shopping list at


by Ellen Metrick

For virtually every category and age group, toy companies have used their ingenuity to make good toys even better. This year’s winners reflect an evolution from traditional playthings to impressive, exciting tools for broadening knowledge, honing high-tech skills and experiencing both challenge and delight.

Books and magazines

by Helen Foster James

Writers and artists continue to jump higher in a noble effort to entertain and educate our children. Lots of serious titles this year-about social issues, war-torn countries, milestones in history, fatal illness, etc. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of silliness, too, with a plethora of animal tales and the funniest introduction to toilet-training one could imagine.

For a complete list of our books and magazines, pick up a copy of Chicago Parent.

Family Fun

by Peggy Brown

As families get back to basics, games are among the best basic entertainment around. Board games bring friends and loved ones face-to-face better than TV, movies and video games do-and the price is right, even in tough times. Put game night on the schedule, zap some popcorn and play; games make you learn and laugh. They can be the glue that pieces family time back together.

Music, DVDs and software

The quest continues to find a satisfying mix of new voices and experienced professional children’s artists who have the “Wow! Can’t-wait-to-hear-that-again!” factor.

Among the DVD winners, you’ll find some familiar DVDs along with some wonderful surprises.

And finally, no 21st-century shopping wish list is complete without the hottest software titles.

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