Toy Box

Ludothek, oh Ludothek, where have you been all my life? I could have really used one of you when I was a kid.

A bit of etymology: "ludo" derives from the Latin word "ludus," which means game or toy, and "thek" comes from the Greek word "théke" meaning box or chest. So, a Ludothek is just a giant toy box! The concept of a Ludothek can be explained by this simple analogy (translated from a Spanish webpage): The Ludothek is to the toy what Bibliothek (library) is to the book.

In other words, i.e. SAT format, Ludothek: toy :: Bibliothek: book

If you are unfamiliar with Ludotheken, allow me to give you a little background information. Although I did not grow up with a local Ludothek, my home state of California founded the first "toy library," as they are called in English, in Los Angeles around the time of the Great Depression. Families were unable to afford to buy new toys for their children, so they would borrow toys from the toy library. Similar programs popped up around the country, even in San Diego, but many of the programs didn't last. However, the concept really took off in Europe and other parts of the world. Fortunately, the organization that started the first toy library in Los Angeles is still thriving and something like 40 toy libraries in LA county are in operation today.

I recently went with my Chefin, Little L, and Al to the Ludothek of Schaffhausen (located on the top floor of the book library) and was excited to see toys available for children of all ages. That afternoon we came home with giant plastic building blocks and a board game. Borrowing teaches the kids to take special care of these toys so that other children can also enjoy them later. They keep these toys separate from their own personal toys and are careful not to lose any pieces. Back when these toy libraries first began, a big part of the program was teaching children responsibility and rewarding them for cleaning the toys and returning them in good condition. Wouldn't children today benefit from this as well? (Get with it San Diego - maybe when I move back I'll look into starting one up.)

If you or anyone you know would like to find out about the Ludotheken in your area of Switzerland, please click on this link.


  1. I haven't been there, but went to Franz Carl Webber today to pick up some things for Boy X.

    Hello Childhood fantasy. I loved it!

  2. The Ludotheks are awesome. I should take more advantage of them than I do.


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