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The Cambridge Handbook of Play
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Book description

Play takes up much of the time budget of young children, and many animals, but its importance in development remains contested. This comprehensive collection brings together multidisciplinary and developmental perspectives on the forms and functions of play in animals, children in different societies, and through the lifespan. The Cambridge Handbook of Play covers the evolution of play in animals, especially mammals; the development of play from infancy through childhood and into adulthood; historical and anthropological perspectives on play; theories and methodologies; the role of play in children's learning; play in special groups such as children with impairments, or suffering political violence; and the practical applications of playwork and play therapy. Written by an international team of scholars from diverse disciplines such as psychology, education, neuroscience, sociology, evolutionary biology and anthropology, this essential reference presents the current state of the field in play research.


‘The amount of time that should be devoted to play in early childhood education and the potential benefits it might bring remain contentious issues. For those seeking a larger, cross-species and cross-cultural panorama on play, this Handbook will be refreshing. With contributions from a multidisciplinary set of authors, Smith and Roopnarine have assembled a weighty – but uplifting – Handbook.'

Paul Lansley Harris - Harvard University, Massachusetts

‘Smith and Roopnarine bring together leaders in the scholarly study of play to create a rich, authoritative resource that provides theoretical frameworks, historical evidence, and up-to-date findings about the many contexts in which play occurs. While each chapter is valuable on its own, the individual contributions are even more significant as part of this collection.'

Dana Gross - St Olaf College, Minnesota

‘The editors of this Handbook assemble the most current thinking and research on play, ranging from its evolutionary origins and development across the lifespan, to play theory and empirical methods, to its impact on learning and overall wellbeing, to its educative and therapeutic applications, and to the influence of family and culture. Forget the shelf, this book belongs on every play scholar’s desk.’

Rick Worch - Bowling Green State University, Ohio

‘A fascinating mix of play theory, practice and practicalities, this comprehensive Handbook offers an in-depth insight into the complexities of play research. Students and seasoned researchers alike will be challenged to consider their own approaches to play and play research by the diverse biological, sociocultural, theoretical and methodological perspectives presented in this book.'

Shelly Newstead - Common Threads

'As societies change, so must the techniques educators use to foster play in children’s lives. Each article is well written and accompanied by an extensive bibliography supporting the article's specific focus. One of the refreshing points made is that childhood is its own time and not merely a preparation for adulthood. This volume offers much to those experienced in the field of play and to those new to it.'

S. Sugarman Source: Choice

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