- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Avery; Reprint edition (April 6, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1862548862
- ISBN-13: 978-1583333785
- ASIN: 1583333789
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 128 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,271 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul Paperback – April 6, 2010
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About the Author
Stuart Brown, M.D. is a medical doctor, psychiatrist, clinical researcher, and the founder of the National Institute for Play. He speaks regularly to Fortune 500 companies and groups across the country on the significance of play in our lives. The producer of a three-part PBS series, The Promise of Play, he has also appeared on NPR and was featured in a front-page story in The New York Times Magazine. He lives in Carmel Valley, California.
Christopher Vaughan has been a journalist for more than twenty years. He cowrote the national bestseller The Promise of Sleep.
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There are a couple of minor gripes I had with the book. The first is the personalization of the brain. Brown sometimes speaks of the brain "doing" this and that, or "accomplishing" an activity. But the brain doesn't act- persons do. The notion that one can "program" the brain is based on the reification of a rather poor analogy (between brains and computers) and it needs to go. I don't know what Brown's philosophy is, but this is based on an outdated scientific materialism. Related to this is the occasional use of evolutionary psychology. These are all just-so stories- and a little thought usually dissolves them. We aren't just machines programmed to play- we are whole persons, designed to rejoice in this wonderful and beautiful world. Regardless, this element really doesn't take much value out of the book, which is chock-full of wonderful insights and practical applications.
We need to be deadly serious about play.
The book is definitely pitched at a more general audience (for example, there is no bibliography to help one follow up on the various research studies he talks about). I would have liked and was expecting some more analysis of the science behind the claims he makes – but as a general trade book this just doesn’t get below the surface.
Nevertheless, there is a lot of value here. Brown has some wonderful anecdotes about the impact of play. He does provide a window into the role play has in development of children and our species. He discusses the ways that the lack of play affects us as adults and suggests some ways to rediscover our play. In this way, the book is a kind of self-help book. It is a good starting point for people thinking about the value and importance of play.