Iona and Peter Opie were twentieth-century pioneers. Their research and writing focused on the folklore of British children – their games, rhymes, riddles, secret languages and every variety of the traditions and inventions of the children’s collective physical and verbal play. Such closely observed, respectful, good-humoured and historically attuned writing about the traditions of childhood was a revelation to English-language readers around the world. Their numerous books were a rare phenomenon: they attracted a popular readership far beyond the professional and academic communities. For those who work with children, their collaborative research was a powerful influence in confirming the immense capacities of the young for cooperation, conservation, invention and imagination. Their books challenged – then and now – the bleak and limited view of children which focuses on their smallness, ignorance and powerlessness.
The writers in this volume pay their tribute to the Opies by exploring a wonderfully varied topography of children's play, from different countries and different perspectives. Their research is vivid and challenging; that is, as it should be, in the tradition of the Opies.
This book was originally published as a special issue of the International Journal of Play.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. What is the state of play? 2. A lifetime in the playground (inaugural address to ‘The State of Play’ conference, University of Sheffield, 1998) 3. The making of folklore books: chiefly the experiences of the Revd. John Brand and the Opies 4. The lives and legacies of Iona and Peter Opie 5. Colleagues in the Antipodes: conversations with Iona and Peter Opie 6. The lore and law of the playground 7. From local to global: the evolution of musical play in secondary schools 8. From the wild frontier of Davy Crockett to the wintery fiords of Frozen: changes in media consumption, play and literacy from the 1950s to the 2010s 9. Meeting in the Middle East: Iona and Peter Opie’s contribution to co-existence education 10. Child play is serious: children’s games, verbal art and survival in Africa Memories of and Reflections about the Opies and their Work 11. Iona Opie: distant relations and ‘the kindness of friends’ 12. O.P.: collection as celebration of children’s self-organized play 13. Iona and me 14. What the Opies have meant to me: opening teachers’ eyes to the literacies of the playground 15. Making sense with the Opies 16. Stumbling into folklore more than 50 years ago 17. Books worth (re)reading
Julia C. Bishop is a folklorist specialising in children’s play. She has published on multimodal transmission and performance in play and the history of children’s play. She is currently researching the work of Iona and Peter Opie and the online publication of their archival collection.
June Factor is a writer, folklorist and social historian. She was a founding editor of the International Journal of Play and has published widely, including Captain Cook Chased a Chook: Children’s Folklore in Australia (1988), Kidspeak: A Dictionary of Australian Children’s Words (with Siobhan Hannan, 2000) and the Far Out! series of children's verbal lore.
"This book, a veritable treasure trove of material, as gifted us an enriched understanding and awakening regarding all aspects of children's play and play lore. I have no doubt that it will stimulate further research and debate within folkloric, ethnographic, educational, anthropological, and ethnomusicological communities, all of which have increased in significance in an era of advanced technology." - Maire Ni Bhaoill, Folk Music Journal