Review by David Lane:
The book has a strapline Fun ways to help your child develop in the first five years, and that it exactly what the book is about. Other than the Introduction and Final Words, Dr Gummer takes parents through eight stages of development from birth to starting school. In each stage she highlights the usual developments and gives practical advice for parents on possible play activities. She emphasises the individuality of children in the Introduction so that parents do not get concerned if milestones vary from one child to another. The book ends with a few references, sources of further help and an appendix with nine nursery rhymes.
The book is straightforward in style, and is easy to read. It can be commended to parents, as play is a seriously important topic. It is work, as far as children are concerned, as they learn skills, come to terms with the world around them, develop language and start to relate to their peers. Yet, as the strapline emphasises, it should be fun as well, to be rewarding to children and parents alike. At a time when early years services are being pressed to identify learning targets for tinies, the fun message needs to be underlined.
In going on to offer some reservations, I should explain that they are not criticisms of the book, but underline the problems of writing on this subject.
People who find the book easy to read probably know much of its contents already, though they should pick up some information and ideas of which they are not aware. The parents for whom the book could be of greatest use may not be given to reading a lot. How do we reach them? The answer may be that the book would be most effective if it were a series of video clips in which the ideas for activities could be shown; seeing a group of children doing “The wheels on the bus…” will be of much greater help than reading it in the appendix with the actions described in italics. Similarly, filmed introductions on the themes of each chapter, with Dr Gummer speaking to camera, would probably be more direct and more easily assimilable. There is then the problem of getting the filmed messages to parents. Through Facebook? Perhaps PACEY would like to assist Dr Gummer in publishing electronically. Or perhaps they are already doing it, and I am not up to date…
At £10.99, the book is good value for parents.
Gummer, Amanda (2015) Play