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The Power of Play: Learning What Comes Naturally Paperback – December 25, 2007

4.4 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this fascinating look at the importance of letting kids be kids, Elkind argues that "Play is being silenced." According to Elkind, a child psychologist and author of All Grown Up and No Place to Go, important, unstructured play is too often replaced in modern times by organized activities, academics or passive leisure activities such as watching television and playing video games. Elkind explains how even toys have changed: "toys once served to socialize children into social roles, vocations, and academic tool skills. Today, they are more likely to encourage brand loyalties, fashion consciousness, and group think." Elkind acknowledges that technology has its place in the classroom, but debunks computer programs marketed toward babies and preschoolers whose young brains are not yet able to fully comprehend two-dimensional representations. "Parent peer pressure" is often to blame, causing parents to engage in "hyperparenting, overprotection, and overprogramming." Media-spread fears about everything from kidnapping and molestation to school shootings and SIDS can cause parents to forget that "children can play safely without adult organization; they have done so as long as people have been on earth." With clarity and insight, Elkind calls for society to bring back long recesses, encourage imagination and let children develop their minds at a natural pace. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry," September 2008
"An easy and enjoyable read...Elkind's latest book reflects his career-long devotion to children's well-being...He lays out a comprehensive vision for how parents can support and foster children's free play and gently but convincingly illustrates why they should do so...This book will be well received by parents, teachers, and policymakers."

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; Reprint edition (December 25, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738211109
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738211107
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #48,998 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Brief Resume
David Elkind

David Elkind is currently Professor emeritus of Child Development at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. He was formerly Professor of Psychology, Psychiatry and Education at the University of Rochester. Professor Elkind obtained his doctorate at U.C.L.A. and then spent a year as David Rapaport's research assistant at the Austen Riggs Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. In 1964 65 he was a National Science Foundation Senior Postdoctoral Fellow at Piaget's Institut d' Epistemologie Genetique in Geneva. His research has been in the areas of perceptual, cognitive and social development where he has attempted to build upon the research and theory of Jean Piaget.

Professor Elkind's bibliography now numbers over five \hundred items and includes research, theoretical articles, book chapters and eighteen books. In addition he has published more popular pieces such as children's stories in Jack and Jill, biographies of famous psychologists in the New York Times Magazine, as well as presentations of his own work in journals such as Good Housekeeping, Parade and Psychology Today. Some of his recent articles include Computers and Young Children, The Authority of the Brain, The Cosmopolitan School, On Becoming a Grandfather, and Thanks for the Memory: Froebel and Montessori. Perhaps Professor Elkind is best known for his popular books, The Hurried Child, All Grown Up and No Place to Go, Miseducation, Ties that Stress and most recently The Power of Play: Learning what comes naturally. In preparation is a new book tentatively entitled, The Stages of Parenthood: Growing up with Our Children.

Professor Elkind is a member of many professional organizations, is on the Editorial Board of numerous scientific journals, is a consultant to state education departments, as well as to government agencies and private foundations. He lectures extensively in the United States, Canada and abroad. He has appeared on The Today Show, The CBS Morning News, Twenty/Twenty, Nightline, Donahue, and the Oprah Winfrey Show. He has been profiled in People and Boston Magazine and was a Contributing Editor to Parents Magazine. Professor Elkind also co-hosted the Lifetime television series, Kids These Days. He is a past President of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Professor Elkind is currently the chief scientific advisor for JustAskBaby, and internet service for parents.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The essense of this book can be stated pretty quickly.

Turn off the television.

Play games with the kid.

Encourage her to play with other kids.

Don't schedule every evening.

Carefully select toys/gifts.

Now all you have to do is understand each of these points and put them into practice.

Perhaps few points should leave you with a few questions like:

what kind of games to play?

What kinds of gifts/toys?

But I'm scheduling educational things?

Of course, reading this book will explain all these points and more. This book comes right after a major report on the importance of play by the American Academy of Pediatrics. It reflects on and expands the report to give specific suggestions, and explains why those suggestions are so important.

And I'm going to add one more of my own. Spend every moment you can with them. We have them for such a short time before they are gone off to live their own lives.
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Format: Hardcover
Elkind is my kind of guy. In this book he talks about balance, balance, balance. His book addresses play in children infancy thru the elementary years, for the most part. He talks about what play does exactly for children's intellect, social skills and imagination. I would suggest this book to parents of kids ages 0-7. Educators and the late elemantary set will get something from this book, but not as much as folks parenting and working with younger children.

What I have enjoyed so much about this book is that he is not extreme in his ideas. He endorses tv and video games mildly, and then leads parents into selecting the right kind of show or game. He talks about the pros and cons of these entertainment modes.

He talks about the balance of planned sports/activities, and free, individually motivated play. He offers some guidelines in this area.

He addresses his ideas developmentally, and explains each developmental stage. He will talk about kids in the "concrete operational stage" which usually happens around the age of 6, but sometimes sooner, sometimes later.

I think the American Public cannot read enough about the importance of play for children of all ages.In an age where recess is being eliminated from schools in order to raise test scores, we need work like Elkind's to remind us of the importance of not overscheduling our children.

This read, where I enjoyed it, isn't my favorite book. But I like the info within, I like how it is organized, and believe whole-heartedly in the point that David Elkind is making. It is an intelligent book, and doesn't "dummy-down" to the parent. I learned quite a bit, and as a mother and and educator appreciated that most of all.
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Format: Paperback
Elkind, as always, makes a good case for slowing things down for kids. As a Montessori and Waldorf parent, it's always nice to read ideas in support of trusting a more organic approach to my children's development. However, I didn't feel this book had near the power of Elkind's earlier work, The Hurried Child. The book reads more like a pop psychology text. I was put off by the reiteration of his ideas regarding early childhood and left wanting more support of his theories. I also was hoping the Power of Play would suggest some examples of play and elaborations on "what comes naturally" to young children.
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Format: Hardcover
I firmly believe in the importance of free play. Essentially, I was looking for a book that would reinforce that belief. Instead, I found myself annoyed by the poor reasoning this book employs. In brief, the author seems to argue that things are different from the way he played as a boy and, therefore, they are worse. Different=worse is not a logical or valid argument.

For example, choosing teams the way they did when he was a boy and was always the last boy chosen made him feel ostracized. But it also prepared him for the real world. Electronic games deprive children of this sense of ostracization. Hmmm... I'm no fan of computer games for young children, but at this point in the book I'm feeling an urge to go out and buy some software for my little ones!

Aaahhh, the good old days when children were allowed to build campfires without supervision! So what if they got burned occasionally? It taught them to handle risk! The idea that there might be other forms of play that teach risk in a more constructive way is not addressed, and I wish it had been.

His argument is needlessly complicated. For example, he discusses the idea of hot and cool media, which is a powerful theoretical construct and which could have been very helpful in this book. (Hot media encourages passivity; cool media engages the child's thought and emotions). But his supporting examples entirely miss the mark. For example, he discusses a study which compared children who watched hot media (e.g., action shows) with those who watched cool media (i.e., educational shows) and found that those who watched hot media were less educationally gifted later on. Therefore, hot media is bad, and cool media is good. Ummmm...
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