Puppet Sales Rise As Parents Return To Traditional Toys

01/09/2009 08:42 | Updated 22 May 2015

Isn't it funny how, all of a sudden, you spot something everywhere you go? I don't think I'd seen a traditional children's puppet in years, yet on our recent holiday, every museum seemed to have a little puppet corner that the kids couldn't get enough of.

My son has been studying traditional toys at school, so he made a beeline for Punch and Judy Booth at the Museum of Childhood, and put on his own show.

It's like Malcolm Gladwell describes in his book The Tipping Point - for a variety of reasons, individual things can turn into phenomenon, and all of a sudden they're everywhere.

So are puppets, of all things, experiencing a tipping point? The evidence suggests so.

Puppet specialists Fiesta Crafts report a 30% rise in sales so far this year. But aren't we meant to be in the grip of recession, when businesses are failing because nobody's got owt to spend? Yet still sales of puppets are up. What's going on?

Child development expert, Dr Amanda Gummer can see the benefits of puppets: "Toys that encourage role play can be extremely valuable in helping children to develop vocabulary and communication skills by expressing their thoughts and emotions. Young boys can find this particularly challenging and puppets that appeal to boys – male characters, animals, dragons, and so on, can be very useful".

Fiesta Crafts reports that fairy tale puppets are proving particularly popular, especially Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Cinderella.

Dr Gummer comments: "Most traditional fairy tales contain moral lessons which are core to social structure. Modern children's stories can be shallow in comparison and often present an unrealistically 'sunny' view of life.

Through reading and enacting the stories in traditional fairy tales, children can learn a lot about the complexities of human relationships and, importantly, the potential consequences of anti-social behaviour".

So parents choosing fairy tale puppets for their children will not only be helping to improve their communication skills but may also be teaching their little ones valuable social and moral lessons that others miss out on.

Sales of the most popular fairy tale character puppets are markedly highest in the North East, Midlands, and West of England, suggesting that children in the East and South, including London, could be missing out on valuable and enjoyable life lessons.

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