New book offers fresh approaches to children’s play research

Policy Press, the social policy specialist publisher based at the University of Bristol in England is to publish a new book of practice-based studies that utilise new methodologies in researching children’s play.

Edited by Doctors Wendy Russell and Stuart Lester, together with their colleague, the play studies lecturer Hilary Smith, all of the University of Gloucestershire, Practice-Based Research in Children’s Play will, say the publishers, be ‘a unique collection’ of 12 research projects carried out by experienced practitioners in the play sector in the UK and USA.

The new book will put forward a range of perspectives on children’s play and adults’ relationships with it. Drawing on a diverse range of research methodologies, the studies consider adults’ memories of play; the co-production of spaces where children can play (in adventure playgrounds, out of school clubs, children’s zoos, children’s museums and public space); therapeutic approaches to playwork; playwork and wellbeing; supporting the play of severely disabled children and young people; play and contemporary art practice; and children’s use of technology in a playground.

Beyond the dominant voice

Policy Press says that the volume will ‘offer a fresh look beyond the dominant singular voice of developmental psychology’ and be ‘essential reading for anyone studying or working with children at play’. Russell and Lester are well known in the field of play research, having co-authored, among other published works both individually and as a team, the influential play research literature review, Play for a Change (Lester and Russell, 2008) and the discussion paper Children’s Right to Play (Lester and Russell, 2010), part of the International Play Association’s engagement with the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child that led to its General Comment on children’s right to play (UNCRC, 2013).


Lester, S and Russell, W, 2008, Play for a change, play, policy and practice: A review of contemporary perspectives, London: Play England.

Lester, S and Russell, W, 2010, Children’s right to play: an examination of the importance of play in the lives of children worldwide, Working papers in Early Childhood Development, 57,The Hague: Bernard Van Leer Foundation.

Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), 2013, Article 31: General comment no. 17 on the right of the child to rest, leisure,play, recreational activities, cultural life and the arts, Adopted 17 April 2013, available from:

Photo: Richard Anderson

Practice-Based Research in Children’s Play edited by Wendy Russell, Stuart Lester and Hilary Smith, will be published by Policy Press in March 2017.

Author: Adrian Voce

1 comment op “New book offers fresh approaches to children’s play research”


always good to have research to support play obervations 🙂

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