There has always been a need for dolls in children's lives--something for comfort, something to substitute for an absent parent, etc.
Over the past 50 years there has been an effort to move away from gender stereotypes regarding dolls. Books were written for children with the subtle, or not so subtle, message that it is okay for a boy to want a doll. One example is William's Doll by Charlotte Zolotow [JP ZOL], published back in 1972.
The Barbie doll made a big splash when it came out in 1959--dolls became more than baby dolls. The Barbie appealed to a slightly older audience, and strictly a female one. Barbie's manufacturer even made an effort, by example, to show girls that women can compete in a man's world.
Fifty-five years later, Barbie is still going strong, and her continued popularity is reflected in our collection of nearly 100 Barbie books and DVDs! (Do a search of our catalog using the term "Barbie.")
Barbie and others of her ilk, have moved into a whole new realm as you can see if you spend a little time on Pinterest, or a site such as My Froggy Princess.
Despite last week's article from the Business Insider, "Barbie Dolls Are Quickly Becoming Obsolete," I don't think Barbie is going to disappear from American culture! Nor, do I think that dolls will fall out of favor as items of comfort for kids.