This book has already proved itself as a course adoption leader in Childhood Studies. All of the strengths of the First Edition have been retained. The book is comprehensive and judged with the needs of students in mind. It is a model of clarity and precision and has been acknowledged as such in reviews and course feedback. The new edition thoroughly revises old entries and adds new ones. The book is the most accessible, relevant student introduction to this expanding, interdisciplinary field. It is an indispensable teaching text and an ideal prompt for researchers.



Pleasurable activities freely engaged in by children; freedom from work; to act frivolously or capriciously.

The above definitions of play, as both verb and noun, are the ones usually to be found in the dictionary, and for Huizinga (1949), an early theorist of play, the term refers to activities that are outside of the ordinary run of everyday life. Though not serious, they are utterly absorbing to the player. Characterised by pleasure and seen as an end in itself, play, Huizinga says, has its own rules of engagement and comes to constitute a separate world apart from the humdrum everyday world.

However, while this account of play can be useful to describe some adult activities – as in ‘playing’ sports, such as tennis or football – ...

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