Sandra Smidt sets out to explain what play is and why it is so important as one of the key ways of learning, particularly - but not solely - for young children. She argues that all play is purposeful, and can only truly considered to be play when the child has chosen what to do, where and how to do it. Using case studies drawn from all over the world, Smidt challenges some of the prevailing myths relating to play and pays close attention to what it is that early years professionals need to do to interpet the play, understand its purpose for the child and sometimes extend it. Attention is paid to the close links that play has with creativity, and the author also highlights the importance of being able to explain to colleagues, parents and even those in government, why play matters so much in terms of learning and development. This book will be of interest to anyone involved in early years' education.