few major attempts to integrate the two literatures. Rather than stimulating further attempts to integrate the areas, however, his review seems to have further fueled the debate, with most child development researchers finding the research on animal play "interesting" but not all that relevant.
This book has two purposes. The first is to provide a state-of-the-art review of empirical research on play, in order to summarize what we know, what we don't know, and what we still need to learn. The second is to explore in some detail the relevance of the literature on animal play for understanding the play of humans. The nature and amount of children's play varies significantly across cultures, and an effort to consider cross-cultural work has been made.
The book should be of interest to several audiences: researchers in child development; graduate and upper-level undergraduate students in psychology, human development, and early childhood education; and professionals who work in early child care and clinical settings. The presentation is nontechnical and includes numerous references for further reading and study. Those working with young children should find the information valuable in understanding and developing methods to enrich their play, and those who conduct (or plan to conduct) research should gain a good "starting point" for future research and study.
I would like to acknowledge the support of several individuals. First, I would like to thank my editor, Susan Milmoe, for all of her support, assistance, and encouragement throughout this project. If all authors were blessed with such an editor, there's no question the world would be a much better place. I am also deeply indebted to the production staff at Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, who have made the publication process a positive experience.
I would like to thank Gerald Gratch for our ongoing dialogue about young children and their development. His observations and insights have contributed much to my thinking in this (and many) areas, and his unconditional support has been greatly valued and appreciated. I would also like to thank Coleen Carlson and Marc Bekoff for their comments on parts of the manuscript, and to thank the anonymous reviewer provided by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates for the extensive, thoughtful, and extremely helpful comments on the entire book. I also acknowledge the support of the College of Social Sciences at the University of Houston for granting me a one-semester leave to initiate this project.
Finally, I would like to thank my family for their love and support throughout this seemingly endless process. This book is the result of three long years of immersing myself in a literature far larger than I ever imagined. I am thankful to my wife Brenda for each and every time she convinced me (at least for an hour or two) that I would and could finish