Since the original publication of Play in 1977, dramatic economic and social changes have resulted in a marked increase in the number of young children from diverse backgrounds enrolled in group child-care programs, a trend that has created a need for a better understanding of play and its significance for the growing child. Over the same period, researchers studying child development have become even more interested in the relationship between play and children's well-being. In this enlarged edition of Play, Catherine Garvey explores some of the more promising new directions in the study of play and summarizes the findings of recent research. The book contains two entirely new chapters. "Learning to Play" looks at the young child's earliest play experiences within the family context and then considers the complex activity of social pretend play. "Play and the Real World" discusses the relationship between play and social and cognitive development, focusing on play styles and gender identity, friendship and peer status, and play and literate behavior as exemplified in storytelling and narrative. The book also contains updated references. Because play allows children to experiment with actions, speech, and social roles they have yet to master, the author touches on topics that are of concern to parents and educators. But these are also matters of deep importance to children themselves as they acquire gender-appropriate play styles, negotiate relationships with peers, and begin to use language in more specialized ways at school. Garvey has provided a concise introduction to current play research that also offers an entry to children's imaginative exploration of physical and social realities.