I met some naughty kids when I worked as a babysitter and camp counselor. But after five years with the National Museum of Play at The Strong, I’ve observed enough children to know the good ones far outnumber the brats and that misbehavior, when it occurs, isn’t limited to one gender. So why do little boys get a bad rap? Look at the way cartoonists have portrayed them over the years. If I may paraphrase a line from Jessica Rabbit: the kids aren’t bad—they’re just drawn that way.
Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play at The Strong
The Brian Sutton-Smith Library and Archives of Play is a treasure trove of materials devoted to the intellectual, social, and cultural history of play. The library’s collection of more than 140,000 resources—books, periodicals, comic books, audio-visual materials—include more than 18,000 trade catalogs, the majority of which are focused on the toy, game, and recreation industries.
Allow me to introduce you to an elite group of which I am not a member: serious gamers. Yes, I’ve been known to play the occasional game of Scrabble, and in my youth I devoted a week one summer to playing Monopoly with a cousin. Add in a few random games of Checkers, Parcheesi, and Go Fish, and that about covers it. So when I say “serious gamer,” I’m referring to someone like the extraordinary Sid Sackson.
I’ve always been curious about how things work. I’ve been known to take things apart and put them back together, just to see if I can. Sometimes tools are involved, sometimes not. Over the years, my scientific explorations have taken me inside the workings of telephones, electronics, vacuum cleaners, and toys—especially toys. Looking back, it seems that I spent more time as a child examining how toys were manufactured and how they functioned than I did playing with them.