The Art of Play

The book "The Art of Play: Recess and the Practice of Invention" grew out of the Recess Access advocacy project. It documents student involvement in the delivery of simple materials to nine school yards in Philadelphia. Published by Temple University Press, portions of the proceeds of the sales of the book will be directly used to buy materials for kids.


About the Author

anna beresin photo

Anna R. Beresin is a professor of liberal arts at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her books include "The Art of Play: Recess and the Practice of Invention" and "Recess Battles: Playing, Fighting, and Storytelling". "Recess Battles" won the Iona and Peter Opie Prize in Children’s Folklore from the American Folklore Society. She has contributed to "Children Under Construction: Critical Essays on Play as Curriculum", "The Cultural Shaping of Violence", and "Children’s Folklore: A Source Book". Her articles have appeared in the journals Anthropology and Education Quarterly, the Children’s Folklore Review, and she is a regular contributor to the International Journal of Play. She enjoys really bad puns.

Press for 'The Art of Play'

"Thank you, Anna Beresin, for your graphic portrayal of what happens when we starve children of opportunities for play. Using children’s art as a lens to a world without recess, this book allows us to peer into the playgrounds of our impoverished schools. It helps us understand how we can spark all children’s creative potential with a piece of chalk, some balls, and a few jump ropes. Our leaders are quick to talk about the 25 percent of children growing up in poverty who are being left behind. Moving beyond talking about the problem to showing it, The Art of Play teaches us what we can and should do about it."
- Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, Professor of Psychology, Temple University & co-author of 'Einstein Never Used Flashcards'

"The Art of Play makes a strong case for the power of play, in the most fundamental, simple ways, in lives of children, for the children, for schools, and for society."
- Shifra Teitlebaum, Teachers College Record

"What can art about play teach us about the art of play? Showcasing the paintings of more than one hundred Philadelphia public elementary schoolchildren, folklorist Anna Beresin’s innovative book The Art of Play presents images and stories that illustrate what children do at recess and how it makes them feel. Beresin provides a nuanced, child-centered discussion of the intersections of play, art, and learning. She describes a widespread institutionalized fear of play and expressive art and illustrates the transformative power of simple materials like chalk and paint. Featuring more than one hundred paintings and several surreal photographs of masked children enjoying recess, The Art of Play weaves together the diverse voices of children and working artists with play scholarship."
- Temple University Press

© Anna Beresin