You are here

Introduction to Play

Introduction to Play

Edited by:


May 2022 | 272 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

The go-to textbook for everything you need to know about play!

Covering ages 0-8, this book explores what play is, why it matters and where and how play happens. Taking you from start to finish on your course, it helps you:

  • Think critically about play and play provision
  • Understand what good practice looks like
  • See how theory translates into real-world settings
  • Explore the issues, debates, and challenges within play and early learning

Jane Waters-Davies
Part I: What is Play?
Natalie MacDonald
Chapter 1: What is play?
Jane Waters-Davies
Chapter 2: Children’s right to play
Alison Rees-Edwards
Chapter 3: Types of play
Alison Murphy
Chapter 4: Play pioneers and their legacy
Part II: Why is Play Important?
Natalie Canning & Angela Rekers
Chapter 5: Play, learning and development
Amanda Bateman
Chapter 6: Play, and early language and communication
Charlotte Greenway & Laura Hutchings
Chapter 7: Play, creativity and wellbeing
Part III: Where does Play Happen?
Jennifer Clement
Chapter 8: Enabling environments: indoors and out
Glenda Tinney
Chapter 9: Outdoor play
Pekka Mertala & Saara Salomaa
Chapter 10: Play in the digital world: beyond the binary logic
Carys Jennings
Chapter 11: The place of play in the Early Years curricula of the UK
Angela Rekers with Mel McCree
Chapter 12: The role of the adult in supporting play
Nanna Ryder & Charlotte Greenway
Chapter 13: Play and inclusion
Alex Southern
Chapter 14: Play in community spaces
Margaret Kernan, Giulia Cortellesi & Mariana Palazuelos
Chapter 15: Intergenerational play
Part IV: International Perspectives
Angela Rekers & Jane Waters-Davies
Chapter 16: Cultural framing of expectations for play
Debra Laxton & Linda Cooper
Chapter 17: Play in extremis
Sarah Chicken & Sarah Whitehouse
Chapter 18: Playful learning around the world
Jane Waters-Davies
Closing remarks: Is play under threat?

‘Introduction to Play’, written by an array of well-educated authors, is utterly brilliant. It is jam-packed, teaching on all aspects of play, on a broad and deep scale. It speaks of what play is, the importance of play, the many different theorists that pioneered models of play, the positive health and well-being encouraged through play, the role of the adult in play, and much more. It is simply written, giving greater depth of understanding to the reader, with extra summary boxes to clarify what has been read. It also gives specific questions to consider within a Reflection Point section. This book is great if you are an Early Years Educator, a training Early Years practitioner, or even a new mum! It could benefit anyone who works with children, within different capacities. This is a superb resource!

Shauna Hawker

I recently read ‘Introduction to Play’ and being a mother of 2 little ones myself and studying Early Years at Uni, I certainly found this read worthwhile. It explores what play is, the importance of play and how it benefits children’s development including positive health and well-being which is something close to my heart. Since I want my own children to benefit fully from play experiences, I liked how it discussed the role of the adult in play, directly speaking to me and the influence I can have.  This book is engaging, interesting, simple to read and understand and I found it enjoyable too; I believe it will be a consistent resource I refer to throughout my children’s early childhood and career when considering the importance of play. I loved learning about the various theorists that pioneered play models, that was interesting and, I really liked the summary and reflection points. An all round great book including the colourful cover that catches my eye, encouraging me to scan through the contents page to find something nice to read again!

Amy, Early Years Student at UWTSD

The chapters lend themselves well to the structure of the module and the case studies have been useful to pose reflection and discussion during taught sessions. The chapters are well thought out and support students to understand the links between theory and practice.  The book addresses the role of the adult clearly, encouraging students to put into practice what they have read. I would also recommend this as essential reading for anyone new to teaching in the early years sector. 

Lauren Whale
Teaching Fellow (Early Years) FHEA Faculty of Education, Health and Human Sciences University of Greenwich

Excellent book, good case studies to use throughout. This will be a good book for my students to read when we do our play and exploration module. Very interesting read and a book that I can use throughout my early years teaching.

Mrs Kerry Charlton
Child Studies, York College
December 6, 2023

This is an essential read for anyone studying play in early years. It offers contemporary thinking whilst exploring the discourse of play, the challenges, issues and debates surrounding this contested but fundamental aspect of child development. Well written, the books helps the reader consider theory, provision, pedagogy and practice.

Mrs Carly Blackburn
Social and Community Practice, Bradford College
March 21, 2023

This is a very good introduction /reader for students who want to learn about play.
It covers the majority of the areas I would want to see in a book about play.
If the book were to be revised I would like to see it stretching beyond the 0-8 age group.

Mr Tristan Middleton
Department of Education, Gloucestershire University
August 7, 2022

A book that compliments others that are on the essential list, such as Botrill.
This book supports the essence of play and purposeful pedagogy.

Miss marie bradwell
Children and Young People, Plymouth Marjon University
June 8, 2023

Excellent all round introduction to Play

Mrs Abigail Gosling
School of Education, Bedfordshire University
April 27, 2022

This is a fantastic source for our module on play, where we seek to look beyond the Foundation Stage approach

Mrs Caroline Marshall
Early Years, Gloucestershire College
April 28, 2022

It is a book that offer different perspectives on the play.

Dr Adrijana Visnjic Jevtic
Department for Early Childhood Education, University of Zagreb
January 6, 2023

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 2 - Children's Right to Play

Sage College Publishing

You can purchase this book and request an instructor sample on our US College site:

Go To College Site