1st Edition

The Brain that Loves to Play A Visual Guide to Child Development, Play, and Brain Growth

By Jacqueline Harding Copyright 2023
    272 Pages 157 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    272 Pages 157 Color Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This delightful visual book provides an accessible introduction to how play affects the holistic development and brain growth of children from birth to five years. Written by a leading expert, it brings current theory to life by inviting the reader to celebrate the developing brain that loves to play and is hungry for sensitive human interaction and rich play opportunities.

    Packed full of images and links to film clips of children playing in a variety of contexts on the companion website, chapters focus on different ages and stages of development, providing snapshots of real play scenarios to explore their play preferences and the theory that underpins their play behaviour. With clear explanations of what is happening in the body and brain at each "stage," this book reveals the richness of the play opportunities on offer and the adult’s role in facilitating it. Each chapter follows an easy-to-navigate format which includes:

    • Best practice boxes showing how play in different contexts has impacted a child’s development

    • QR codes linking to short film clips on a companion website to exemplify key points

    • Brain and body facts sections providing short accessible explanations of key theories

    • Play and pedagogy discussion questions

    • Extended material to support the level four descriptors for degree-level study.

    With opportunities to dig deeper, full-colour photographs, and a fully integrated companion website, The Brain that Loves to Play is essential reading for all early years students and practitioners and all those with an interest in child development.




    • Chapter 1: Understanding the developing child
    • Chapter 2: Brain growth
    • Chapter 3: Understanding play pedagogy
    • Chapter 4: Play from birth to around one month:
    • Chapter 5: Play from around one month to 4 months
    • Chapter 6: Play from around 4 months to 6 months
    • Chapter 7: Play from around 6 months to 9 months
    • Chapter 8: Play from around 9 months to one year
    • Chapter 9: Play from around one year to around 18 months
    • Chapter 10: Play from around 18 months to 2 years
    • Chapter 11: Play from around 2 years to 2 and a half years
    • Chapter 12. Play from around 2 and a half years to 3 years
    • Chapter 13: Play from around 3 years to 4 years
    • Chapter 14: Play from around 4 years to 5 years plus
    • Chapter 15: "Hola" – let’s Play! A case study
    • Chapter 16: What’s so urgent about play for children? And how does play benefit adults?
    • Chapter 17:  Helpful websites

    Glossary of Terms




    Jacqueline Harding is Director of Tomorrow's Child and Senior Lecturer at Middlesex University. She is an internationally acclaimed child development expert with experience as a BBC education editor, Headteacher, government consultant, and author of numerous books for and about children. Jacqueline also works in children’s TV production.