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Child Play: its Importance for Human Development

Peter Slade
ISBN 1 85302 246 2

Available from:
Jessica Kingsley Publishers,
116, Pentonville Road,
London N1 9JB
Telephone 0171 8332307
Fax 0171 8372917


Peter Slade, a pioneer in the field of theatre for children, is also known as an expert in work for those with special needs. He was the first person to speak on dramatherapy at the BMA, and in 1964 was chosen to chair the Creative Drama section of the first International Children's Theatre Conference in London. He directed the Rea Street Centre, and for over thirty years ran his internationally renowned Summer Schools. On retirement he was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and awarded the Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal. His books and articles are known worldwide.

`Child Play' is full of wisdom and very readable: it represents Peter Slade's collected views gained from over sixty years of careful observation of human behaviour, and has a major part to play in bringing about a spiritual revival in our society. It outlines life from babyhood to adulthood, showing particular understanding of the adolescent, offering advice for parents, and suggesting ways in which delinquency may be avoided.

It is a timely work. There is a need to re-assert as a central purpose of education the growth and development of the individual, and to bring that need into a proper relationship with the utilitarianism and the materialistic pressures of our current working environment. This book should give all of us who work with young people the confidence and the practical means to help them most effectively, and to re-instate values and concern for the spirit at the centre of what we do. "It would be a pity to sacrifice the inner person in order to produce a mere clever zombie"

As well as being a prophetic book, it is also a very practical text. "It is intended to be a help to parents, teachers, social workers, police, Home Office, JPs, priests and therapists. It might make some children more happy too. That's why I wrote it."

Here is a review of the book, reproduced from the Journal, `Speech and Drama', Volume 48 No. 1, Spring 1999, with the kind permission of the author, Dr. David A. Male.

Child Play: its Importance for Human Development

by Peter Slade ISBN 1 85302 246 2

The subtide is important since it suggests a much wider spectrum of reference than that associated with Children's Play or Child Drama. This book is the fruit of sixty years of endeavour in play or dramatic activity rdnging from infants to adults. The chatty and personal narrative, describing incidents, anecdotes or activities (often in extended detail) makes observations, offers advice or draws conclusions relating to Slade's basic premises concerning Child Play. He sees play as a necessary and central feature of education to be encouraged and nurtured well beyond the infant stage. The thirteen chapters (illustrated with excellent photographs) address different aspects of play as it relates to parents, the Junior and Secondary School curriculum and Dance. Work at the Rea Street Centre in Birmingham is vividly described, especially the forays into Drama Therapy and Delinquency. Finally consideration is given to Adult Training.

The book is worth reading if only to demonstrate the author's breathtakingly fearless persistence in developing his theories, conducting experiments, managing theatre companies, training teams and advisers against indifference, antagonism, even hostility. Since it is based on personal experience, the explanations of theory and practice flow seamlessly together with few references to other authorities. It is essentially an individual odyssey shaped by Slade's own personality and distinctive moral tone.

David A. Male

Finally, a contribution from Peter Slade himself - an article entitled `Our English Language', reprinted from the journal, Speech and Drama'.

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