5-3 | The Boy on the Beach: Building Community through Play

Book Review

The Boy on the Beach: Building Community through Play

Vivian Gussin Paley
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010. Preface, contents. 90 pp. $17.00 cloth. ISBN: 9870226645032

by Shlomo Ariel, David Yellin

First Paragraph:

The gently illustrated cover of this charming, succinct book matches the meditative, exploratory tone of the pages that follow. Vivian Gussin Paley, a highly experienced kindergarten teacher and authority on children’s play, explicitly eschews the rigorous, experimental methods of much of “play scholarship . . . [to] search for the meaning of play along more dramatic paths.” She painstakingly records vignettes of children’s solitary and socio-dramatic make-believe play, observed primarily in kindergartens with the direct or indirect involvement of teachers, and then reflects on the children’s play and the teachers’ responses. She develops many of her insights in conversations with her pen pal Yu-Ching Huang, a teacher from Taiwan, whose thoughtful responses contribute meaningfully to the book.