Stevanne Auerbach

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Stevanne Auerbach
Stevanne Auerbach - a.k.a. Dr. Toy
Stevanne Auerbach - a.k.a. Dr. Toy
Born Queens, New York
Occupation Author, child development specialist, educator, toyologist and speaker
Nationality  United States

Stevanne Auerbach (born September 22, 1938) also known as Dr. Toy, is an American educator, child development expert, writer and toyologist. She is best known for being an expert on as well as advocate of toys, play and the toy industry. After more than thirty years in the field of toys, she was named a Wonder Woman of Toys by 'Women In Toys' and Playthings magazine.[1] She is a frequent guest speaker on toys and play for all ages at industry, professional, parent and public meetings. She makes several public appearances each year to promote her causes, which include building greater awareness in parents of their essential role as play tutors for their children, the educational, and many other benefits of play, and to encourage the enhancement of play value and high standards of quality,safety, and protection of creativity in toys within the toy industry.[2]


Auerbach is perhaps best known for her hypothesis regarding "Play Quotient" or "PQ." She uses the term to refer to personality traits of individuals, how this interacts with play value, a characteristic of toys, games and other playthings. Her theory is propounded in her book, Dr. Toy's Smart Play—Smart Toys: How to Select and Use the Best Toys and Games, 4th Edition released by Regent Press, and first published in 1998.[3]


PQ is somewhat analogous to the notion of IQ - intelligence quotient or EQ - emotional quotient. PQ is a number given to identify the ability of a person to be playful based on the range from not playful to highly playful, along with creativity, spontaneity, good humor, and other attributes. She supports the research findings that a balance of play is essential for fullest development.

Products like interactive, open-ended toys, games, puzzles and other items have PV or Play Value attributes, each of which is weighted for its particular value. Dr. Toy selects those attributes that are characteristic of the product being assessed. The sum of the values of the attributes associated with the product is its PV. For example, if a product such as a specific construction toy possessed 10 attributes, each with an average weight of 7.5, its play value would be 75. As with PQ, the higher the PV the better. Products that are considered stimulators of PQ and have high PV include books, construction toys, creative products, dolls, games, puppets, puzzles, transportation toys and many others.

Objects and products influence the PQ and stimulate playfulness. There is at least the implication of a feedback loop wherein people who play with objects that have a high play value are more likely to have a high PQ. The ability to be playful is not dependent on objects, as spontaneity, street games, improvisation and games, and other activities can and do increase personal playfulness.

While Auerbach does not specifically develop or measure this role of a feedback loop between playing with objects that have a high PQ and developmentally leading to one having a higher PQ, some implied causality seems inescapable. Future studies are possible and warranted. Also, it appears probable that in the individual, additional feedback loops may exist between having high PQ, and other desirable personality traits such as intelligence, creativity, imagination, and dexterity.


Dr. Auerbach completed her undergraduate work in education and psychology at Queens College (1960), and also attended the University of Maryland between 1961-62 for courses in child study, guidance and counseling. She received her MA in special education at George Washington University (1965), and for doctoral work conducted the first cross-cultural study of parents whose children were enrolled in child care as to their expectations and needs. Her study was published by the Far West Laboratory for Educational Research and Development. She conducted her study with the help of interpreters so that parents could more easily speak in their own language including Cantonese, Spanish and Tagalog. Dr. Auerbach was awarded a Ph.D. in child development from Union Institute (1973). (Union Institute has lost its accreditation several times since 2002, however, raising issues about its legitimacy within the academic community.)

Early background[edit]

Her early professional background included teaching in New York City, Maryland and the District of Columbia as a teacher in both suburban and inner city schools, and special needs. She worked at the American Personnel and Guidance Association in Washington, D.C., (now the American Counseling Association) and created the first Film Festival for Counselors, the NVGA National Vocational Guidance Association Guide to Occupational Literature, several reports, and writing the first booklet on Opportunities in the Peace Corps.

While enrolled at George Washington University, she was involved in a national survey of legislation providing for Special Education in each state for the 'Council for Exceptional Children'. She prepared a report on Physical Education for the Kennedy Foundation that led to the formation of the Special Olympics. She was also Resource Specialist for a five-state center for teachers of special needs children based at George Washington University. In that position she identified products that provide support to special needs children, parents and teachers.

In the late 1960s, she became a staff member of the U.S. Department of Education and later the Office of Economic Opportunity. At this office, now part of the Department of Education, she evaluated Titile I programs, created The What Works Series of promising practices, and was responsible for approving the first grant to Sesame Street. She worked for Dr. James Edward Allen, Assistant Secretary for Education.

As a mother herself of a young daughter, Auerbach organized the first in-house child care center in the headquarters of the Department of Education for the children of employees of the Agency. This center became a widely copied model in other government agency offices throughout Washington D.C. and the rest of the country. The original center remains in operation.[4]

Her involvement in all aspects of child care led to her to testify before Congress in 1969 on The importance of child care services. She participated in several conferences including planning for the White House Conference on Children (1970) where child care was voted to be top priority. Her participation in conferences and research programs in the early 1970s culminated in the publications of 'Confronting the Child Care Crisis' and a major work, Choosing Child Care, first published in 1973.[5]

Toy museum[edit]

Auerbach was also founder and director of the San Francisco International Toy Museum which she operated from 1986 to 1990 at the historic Cannery [1] overlooking San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf waterfront. This was a hands-on, children's museum where over 50,000 children learned about the history of toys, and were able to play with and test out new toys and other products. Unfortunately, the museum was forced to close due to lack of funding and mismanagement following the devastating Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989.[6]

Articles and books[edit]

During her career which has spanned more than four decades she has produced scores of articles for a wide variety of publications and given innumerable interviews for radio and television journalists and for print publications and online web sites. She was syndicated for weekly articles for King Features and wrote for The Huffington Post which archived her weekly articles.

She is often interviewed year round and during the holiday season for her opinions on play and toy issues and the best toys by various media outlets, local, national and international. She has written sixteen books including: 'Smart Play Smart Toys', 'Toys for a Lifetime', 'The Toy Chest', and 'The Whole Child'. Dr. Auerbach also wrote 'Confronting the Childcare Crisis' and compiled a four volume anthology, 'Child Care a Comprehensive Guide'. She also wrote a children's book, 'The Alphabet Tree'. My Butterfly Collection:on the Wings of the Butterfly, a book that converges the art and science of butterflies was recently published by Regent Press.

Awards program[edit]

Auerbach is known for her Best annual Products award programs which include:

  • Best Green Toys
  • Best Classic Toys
  • Best Vacation Toys
  • 100 Best Toys

1. 10 Best Active 2. 10 Best Audio – DVDs 3. 10 Best Creative 4. 10 Best Educational 5. 10 Best Games 6. 10 Best Socially-Responsible 7. 10 Best Technology (Software, CD Rom/High Tech), 8. 10 Best Toys 9. Best Building and 10. Best Gifts

  • Best Picks

These Dr. Toy awards are not intended as a badge of any special professional recognition, and are not generally looked to by parents, grandparents and teachers for guidance in choosing toys, games, and other children's products. They are considered novelty awards. The awards have been awarded annually since the early 1990s.[7]


Her website, Dr. Toy's Guide, focuses exclusively on the evaluation of toys and resources for consumers.[8]

Recent activities[edit]

In recent years she has worked to make changes in the toy industry by producing with a committee a code of ethics which was accepted by the [[Toy Association|TA (Toy Association]]. She has emphasized that products should not be copied by others, because doing so undermines the creativity and originality of others. She has also promoted ethics and standards in the toy industry and that it is essential for toys to meet safety standards and to be properly packaged. She also has tried to encourage the toy industry to do more to support play in stores and in the community.[9]


  1. ^ "And the 'Wonder Women' are…". Playthings Magazine. December 20, 2006. Archived from the original on August 27, 2008. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  2. ^ "World renowned toy expert 'Dr Toy' to conduct presentation at the Middle East Toy Fair". AME Info. March 26, 2003. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  3. ^ Dr. Toy's Smart Play Smart Toys (How To Raise A Child With a High PQ (Play Quotient)). Stevanne Auerbach. 1998. ISBN 0-9785540-0-0. 
  4. ^ "Expert Profile:Stevanne Auerbach, Ph.D." ClubMom. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  5. ^ Choosing Child Care. Stevanne Auerbach. 1981. ISBN 0-525-93217-8. 
  6. ^ "Major Fun Award: Dr. Toy". Major Fun for Children. December 24, 2002. Archived from the original on October 12, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  7. ^ Scharfenberg, David (December 4, 2001). "'Dr. Toy' recommends the best of 2001". The Berkeley Daily Planet. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  8. ^ "CQCM Board and Staff: Who is Stevanne Auerbach, Ph. D. aka Dr. Toy?". Kids First! Web Site. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  9. ^ "TIA enacts code of conduct". Playthings. June 14, 2007. Archived from the original on January 31, 2013. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 

Bibliography on child care[edit]

  • 2014 Dr. Toy's Smart Play Smart Toys: How To Select and Use the Best Toys and Games, Regent Press, ISBN 978-1-58790-275-8
  • 2006 "Dr. Toy's Smart Play Smart Toys How to Raise a Child with a High P. Q." (Play Quotient) ICR. ISBN 0-9786640-0-0. * Book also published in China,Croatia,Germany,Greece,India,Israel,Korea, Russia,Spain,Thailand,Turkey and soon in Egypt (Arabic), Japan (Japanese), and in other countries.
  • 2004 "Dr. Toy's Smart Play Smart Toys How to Raise a Child with a High P. Q." (Play Quotient) Educational Insights. ISBN 1-56767-652-9.
  • 1999 Toys For a Lifetime: Enhancing Childhood Through Play. Universe/Rizzoli/FAO Schwarz, ISBN 0-7893-0355-8.
  • 1998 Dr. Toy's Smart Play: How To Raise A Child With a High P.Q. (Play Quotient). St. Martin's Press. Griffin Edition, ISBN 0-312-18089-6.
  • 1986 The Toy Chest: A Sourcebook. Carol Publishers, ISBN 0-8184-0405-1.
  • 1985 The Alphabet Tree. Windswept House, ISBN 0-932433-15-4.
  • 1981 Choosing Child Care. E.P. Dutton, ISBN 0-525-93217-8 and 1991 Barrons Educational Series ISBN 0-8120-4527-0 (Republished 2009 by ICR, San Francisco, CA)
  • 1980 The Whole Child: A Sourcebook for Parents. G.P. Putnam and Sons, ISBN 0-399-50554-7.
  • 1979 Confronting the Child Care Crisis. Beacon Press, ISBN 0-8070-4152-1. (Republished 1981 by Authors Guild/iUniverse)
  • 1979 Child Care: A Comprehensive Guide: Volume IV: Special Needs and Services. Human Sciences Press, ISBN 0-87705-218-2. (Republished 1981 by Authors Guild/iUniverse)
  • 1978 Child Care: A Comprehensive Guide: Volume III: Creative Centers and Homes. Human Sciences Press, ISBN 0-87705-275-1. (Republished 1981 by Authors Guild/iUniverse)
  • 1976 Child Care: A Comprehensive Guide: Volume II: Model Programs and Components. Human Sciences Press, ISBN 0-87705-256-5. (Republished 1981 by Authors Guild/iUniverse)
  • 1975 Child Care: A Comprehensive Guide: Volume I: Rationale for Child Care Services Programs vs Politics (Forward by U.S. Vice President Walter F. Mondale), Human Sciences Press, ISBN 0-87705-218-2. (Republished 1981 by Authors Guild/iUniverse)

External links[edit]