The Real Play Revolution

by Ash Perrin, reviewed by Ilona Hanne.

I have been busy doing my homework in readiness for the current school holidays, and am now ready to revolutionise my children's world.

At least, their world of play anyway. We will leave the rest of the revolution to another week.

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The Real Play Revolution is written by Ash Perrin, a clear expert on the world of play.

Perrin, also known as Bash the Clown, is founder of the Flying Seagull Project, a troupe of entertainers engaging children and adults in art, music, craft, circus skills and games. Since 2008, the Flying Seagull Project has brought laughter and fun through plenty of old-fashioned play to children in hospitals, orphanages, refugee centres and conflict zones all over the world.

So he knows his stuff. He isn't just good at play however, he is good at explaining it and writing about it as well.

Every game, every idea in the book is tried and tested and is based on the simple premise of not needing to have a lot to have fun.

While some of the ideas and games might seem pretty obvious, in this world packed full of devices, television on demand and everything from a song to a meal available instantly, the ideas are worth reminding yourself of.

The book takes you through simple tag games to starting a robot war with just a few boxes, some tape and glue and your imagination, and will inspire you to turn off the electronic toys and devices this holiday.

The key message of the book is that play is important, and brings more benefit to children than simply keeping boredom at bay.

Some of the chapters took me right back to my own childhood, playing sock hockey or Jacob's Ladder at youth group, while other games were completely new to me. Some of them require you to set aside some of your instinctive parenting defaults - shouting is encouraged, as is plenty of silliness, but it is worth it for the connection with your children it brings.

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While I borrowed this book from the library, I think I need a permanent copy on my bookshelf, and probably a few extra copies as well to gift to new parents, trainee teachers, youth workers or anyone else working or dealing with children.

The good news is that by actually buying the book, you can help make sure even more children benefit from the joy of real play as 50 per cent of all author royalties go to support the Flying Seagull Project.

So, grab a copy from the library, or go buy your own copy, and treat yourself and your children to plenty of good, old-fashioned fun these school holidays, with games like Collective Superhero, Wink Murder or Red Rover.

This regular column showcases some of the books available to borrow from the Stratford or South Taranaki book catalogues. The books are chosen by our editorial team.

As well as borrowing books from the Stratford Library, Stratford library card holders can also borrow books from the South Taranaki book catalogue at no extra cost.

This shared service is popular, with over 300 books moving between the libraries each week. Library users can reserve books online regardless of which library they belong to and can also return issued books to the Stratford Library or any of the seven South Taranaki libraries.

Reserving items is free. Library members are notified by email or a phone call when reserved items are ready to collect.

All of the books reviewed in this column are available to borrow through the library system.