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Play Books

Play in a Covid Frame
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Play In A Covid Frame
Everyday Pandemic Creativity In A Time of Isolation
Edited by Anna Beresin and Julia Bishop

During the international coronavirus lockdowns of 2020–2021, millions of children, youth, and adults found their usual play areas out of bounds and their friends out of reach. How did the pandemic restrict everyday play and how did the pandemic offer new spaces and new content? This unique collection of essays documents the ways in which communities around the world harnessed play within the limiting frame of Covid-19.


Folklorists Anna Beresin and Julia Bishop adopt a multidisciplinary approach to this phenomenon, bringing together the insights of a geographically and demographically diverse range of scholars, practitioners, and community activists. The book begins with a focus on social and physical landscapes before moving onto more intimate portraits of play among the old and young, including coronavirus-themed games and novel toy inventions. Finally, the co-authors explore the creative shifts observed in frames of play, ranging from Zoom screens to street walls.


This singular chronicle of coronavirus play will be of interest to researchers and students of developmental psychology, childhood studies, education, playwork, sociology, anthropology and folklore, as well as to toy, museum, and landscape designers. This book will also be of help to parents, professional organizations, educators, and urban planners, with a postscript of concrete suggestions advocating for the essential role of play in a post-pandemic world.



"There is strong evidence within these pages that when the wider world is beyond our understanding, we use play and creativity to take back control of our immediate surroundings. Read and enjoy.


— Prof Fraser Brown, Leeds Beckett University


"This is a much-needed and valuable publication. The stories that are presented are positive despite the obvious negativity associated with a global pandemic. They are a testament to the resilience of humans and our underlying need for play even during a pandemic.

The selection of chapters is genuinely interesting and varied. They foreground some relatively new issues related to conducting research such as ethical clearance when using Facebook, Zoom or Whatsapp and how to represent the voice of the child. Anyone interested in play for learning and enjoyment, the effects of Covid-19 on play, and how communities responded to the pandemic, particularly during the lockdown, will find this publication a fascinating read."


— Giulietta Harrison, Executive Director for Africa A+ Schools

"Play allows us to step temporarily out of reality, often in ways that allow us to understand and cope with that reality. This is especially true for children, but to some degree is true for all of us. The COVID pandemic offered a unique opportunity to witness ways that stressful disruption can alter play and play can ameliorate stressful disruption. Anna Beresin, Julia Bishop, and the chapter authors of this book have documented wonderfully some of the ways the world adapted, playfully, to a disruption that, without play, would have been more tragic than it was."


— Peter Gray, Research Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, Boston College, and author of 'Free to Learn: Why Releasing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life'

The Art of Play

Recess and the Practice of Invention



"Beresin and her team observe and analyze the children's play, and their responses to the opportunities to play.... The results are both inspiring and disturbing.... The Art of Play makes a strong case for the power of play, in the most fundamental, simple ways, in the lives of children, for the children, for schools, and for society."

—Shifra Teitelbaum, author of "If Everyone Kept Quiet,
There Would Never Be Any Justice"

Art of Play Anchor

Recess Battles

Playing, Fighting, and Storytelling

Winner of the 2012 Iona and Peter Opie Prize from the Children's Folklore Section of the American Folklore Society.



"Anna Beresin—'recess lady'—has brought her long-term study of the folklore of children in an elementary school on the 'wrong side of the tracks' to a welcome conclusion.  The book is that rare offering that provides pleasure and enlightenment in the minute---gem-like scenes of children playing—and more globally.  The global issues could not be more timely or pressing."

David Lancy, "Anthropology of Childhood: Cherubs, Chattel, Changelings"

"Recess Battles is a splendid book and an extremely sophisticated treatment of a set of issues that are usually treated only partially or superficially.  A close descriptive account of recess play at an inner-city elementary school, the writing is magisterial—there is an ease in it that conceals the subtlety of what tis being said. . . This book documents aspects of contemporary urban children's play, in word and in body, in a way that nothing else I know of does. It's a gem."

Fredrick Erickson,"Talk and Social Theory: Ecologies of Speaking and Listening in Everyday Life"


Group Motion in Practice

Collective Creation through Dance Movement Improvisation 

by Brigitta Herrmann and Manfred Fischbeck with Elia A. Sinaico and Anna Beresin

Group Motion—an improvisational dance performance practice—represents fifty years of co-creation by the authors, with the participation of thousands of dancers, musicians, videographers and others around the globe. Informed by Mary Wigman’s expressionist dance and other contemporary dance and theater traditions, Group Motion has brought dance not only to stages worldwide, but also to public parks, prisons and airports.

Part memoir, part guidebook, part philosophy of art treatise, this book provides step-by-step guidance to dozens of improvisational structures or games for dance professionals, theater artists, musicians and other performers who use movement for creative expression.

Recess Battles
Group Motion
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