Here is a sample of what some leading scholars, writers, and other thinkers have written or said about play.
It is a happy talent to know how to play.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Play is our brain's favorite way of learning.
Contemporary American author
Culture arises and unfolds in and as play.
Almost all creativity involves purposeful play.
The true object of all human life is play.
G. K. Chesterton
Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.
American television personality
A child loves his play, not because it’s easy, but because it’s hard.
Play has been man’s most useful preoccupation.
Contemporary American author
To the art of working well a civilized race would add the art of playing well.
People tend to forget that play is serious.
Contemporary British painter
Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.
Kay Redfield Jamison
Contemporary American professor of psychiatry
Do not…keep children to their studies by compulsion but by play.
Surely all God’s people…like to play.
Necessity may be the mother of invention, but play is certainly the father.
Roger von Oech
Contemporary American creativity guru
The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct.
In play a child always behaves beyond his average age, above his daily behavior. In play it is as though he were a head taller than himself.
Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play.
Play is training for the unexpected.
Contemporary American biologist
Creative play is like a spring that bubbles up from deep within a child.
Contemporary American educator
Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.
O. Fred Donaldson
Contemporary American martial arts master
Human beings need pleasure the way they need vitamins.
Contemporary Canadian anthropologist
When children pretend, they’re using their imaginations to move beyond the bounds of reality. A stick can be a magic wand. A sock can be a puppet. A small child can be a superhero.
American children’s television host
The debt we owe to the play of the imagination is incalculable.
Play is hard to maintain as you get older. You get less playful. You shouldn’t, of course.
Children have always learned and created places for themselves through play.
Donna R. Barnes
Contemporary American psychologist
There is for many a poverty of play.
The very existence of youth is due in part to the necessity for play; the animal does not play because he is young, he has a period of youth because he must play.
German evolutionary biologist
If you want to be creative, stay in part a child, with the creativity and invention that characterizes children before they are deformed by adult society.
A child who does not play is not a child, but the man who does not play has lost forever the child who lived in him.
I believe that those boys who take part in rough, hard play outside of school will not find any need for horse-play in school.
It is in playing, and only in playing, that the individual child or adult is able to be creative and to use the whole personality, and it is only in being creative that the individual discovers the self.
Now in myth and ritual the great instinctive forces of civilized life have their origin: law and order, commerce and profit, craft and art, poetry, wisdom and science. All are rooted in the primeval soil of play.
The playing adult steps sideward into another reality; the playing child advances forward to new stages of mastery.
Erik H. Erikson
Ritual grew up in sacred play; poetry was born in play and nourished on play; music and dancing were pure play.... We have to conclude, therefore, that civilization is, in its earliest phases, played. It does not come from play...it arises in and as play, and never leaves it.
We all need empty hours in our lives or we will have no time to create or dream.
Contemporary American child psychologist
The child amidst his baubles is learning the action of light, motion, gravity, muscular force…
Ralph Waldo Emerson
So, in all these spheres—in painting, sculpture, drawing, music, singing, dancing, gymnastics, games, sports, writing, and speech—we can carry on to our heart’s content, all through our long lives, complex and specialized forms of exploration and experiment.
Contemporary British zoologist
Play, while it cannot change the external realities of children’s lives, can be a vehicle for children to explore and enjoy their differences and similarities and to create, even for a brief time, a more just world where everyone is an equal and valued participant.
Patricia G. Ramsey
Contemporary American educational psychologist
As astronauts and space travelers children puzzle over the future; as dinosaurs and princesses they unearth the past. As weather reporters and restaurant workers they make sense of reality; as monsters and gremlins they make sense of the unreal.
Contemporary American early childhood educator