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Elizabeth A. Munroe

Richmond Hill (Ont.), Scholastic Canada, 1991. l0lpp, paper, $10.95
ISBN 0-590-73822-4. CIP

Reviewed by Gail Lennon

Volume 20 Number 1
1992 January

Elizabeth Munroe holds a B.Ed., and Early Childhood Education certificate. She has taught pre-school and elementary grades and is a mother. She combines her knowledge of early childhood education with the practical application at home and school to provide, for parents, an informed look at the value of play.

This unassuming 112-page volume seeks to provide for parents plain lan­guage advice on issues concerning the debate over what is best for their children. Quite frankly, as a teacher, I understood that the debate was long over and that the proponents of play for young learners had won the battle handily! Any well-informed parent or educator has learned this fact.

However, what Munroe's book does accomplish is a down-to-earth considera­tion of the aspects of pre-school play. In this way, the book will offer to over-ambitious parents the assurance that it is okay — even preferred — that their children be allowed and encouraged to play. It is hoped that the over-zealous parents who might attempt to force their children into early reading, writing and computation tasks will accept the advice contained in this slim volume: play will prepare their children better for school than pushing organized school tasks down their infantile throats.

The book is logically divided into several aspects of play: an overview of the philosophy and concepts of play; indoor play activities with sand, water, puzzles, playdough, learning games and imaginary play; outdoor play with sand, mud, playground and gym sets; and finally the natural road to literacy through playtime activities.

As a former teacher of junior and senior kindergarten children from upper middle class neighbourhoods, my concerns about this book are ones born of experience. I fear that over-exuberant parents, obsessed with having their children succeed in school, will pour into organized play all the energy they would have expended upon forced reading, writing and mathematics. Thus, the un­suspecting child may have his entire play routines regimented by well-meaning adults. Let Me Play, while offering excellent advice to parents about the importance of play, fails to caution parents to take a back seat and let the children play. In this way the title becomes somewhat ironic.

All in all, this book is a clearly written parents' advice manual about the impor­tance of this most basic of childhood activities. It is clearly and attractively presented and offers consultative input from a well-informed source. While as an early childhood educator I find much of the material an obvious matter of common sense, it must be considered that the author’s audience is clearly the parent who is at present unconvinced about the value of play for his/her pre-school child. Munroe’s theme is clear and the topic is very well developed for her intended audience. This book might well serve as good parent reading material for day care and junior kindergarten teachers to have on hand.

Gail Lennon, Lambton County Board of Education, Sarnia-Clearwater, Ont.
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