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CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title for 2009
"This ground-breaking resource is strongly recommended for all libraries and health and welfare institutional depots; essential for university collections, especially those catering to social studies programs."
—Library Journal, STARRED Review
Children and adults spend a great deal of time in activities we think of as “play,” including games, sports, and hobbies. Without thinking about it very deeply, almost everyone would agree that such activities are fun, relaxing, and entertaining. However, play has many purposes that run much deeper than simple entertainment. For children, play has various functions such as competition, following rules, accepting defeat, choosing leaders, exercising leadership, practicing adult roles, and taking risks in order to reap rewards. For adults, many games and sports serve as harmless releases of feelings of aggression, competition, and intergroup hostility.
The Encyclopedia of Play in Today’s Society explores the concept of play in history and modern society in the United States and internationally. Its scope encompasses leisure and recreational activities of children and adults throughout the ages, from dice games in the Roman Empire to video games today. With more than 450 entries, these two volumes do not include coverage of professional sports and sport teams but, instead, cover the hundreds of games played not to earn a living but as informal activity. All aspects of play—from learning to competition, mastery of nature, socialization, and cooperation—are included. Simply enough, this Encyclopedia explores play played for the fun of it!
For a subject we mostly consider light-hearted, play as a research topic has generated an extensive and sophisticated literature, exploring a range of penetrating questions. This two-volume set serves as a general, nontechnical resource for academics, researchers, and students alike. It is an essential addition to any academic library.
Play is considered to be a lighthearted, fun, and entertaining topic. Yet it plays a key role in our lives, and, as a research field, it has generated an extensive and sophisticated literature exploring a range of penetrating questions, e.g., Do we play to avoid danger or to experience it? Do we play to escape work or work to engage in another form of play? All public and academic libraries will want to obtain this encyclopedia, so that academics, researchers, and students can understand how play affects child and adult development, especially in terms of health, creativity, and imagination. A preface, introduction, and reader's guide further enhance this encyclopedia, as do a glossary, listing of the 450 articles and contributors, and "Chronology of Play." In addition, Volume 2 features a resource guide of books, journals, and Internet sources that includes the URLs to companies in the world of play. Appendix A gives statistics on work and play as listed by categories, hours, gender, and marital status and leisure hours spent. Appendix B is actually a report to Congress by the Federal Trade Commission, "Marketing Violent Entertainment to Children," which gives details about the effect on children of the recording, DVD, and electronic gaming industries and the health and psychological results recorded. BOTTOM LINE This ground-breaking resource is strongly recommended for all libraries and health and welfare institutional depots; essential for university collections, especially those catering to social studies programs.—Al Vara, Temple Univ. Lib., Philadelphia