Cover: You Can’t Say You Can’t Play, from Harvard University PressCover: You Can’t Say You Can’t Play in PAPERBACK

You Can’t Say You Can’t Play

Product Details


$24.00 • £20.95 • €21.95

ISBN 9780674965904

Publication Date: 07/16/1993

Academic Trade

144 pages

6 x 9 inches

5 line illustrations


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Vivian Gussin Paley’s book You Can’t Say You Can’t Play is arresting in its title, magical in its appeal, and inspiring in its message… [It] illustrates how the teacher’s art can attack the evil of exclusion at its childhood root. Now, Mrs. Paley, we need your help in weeding out the pernicious practices that afflict the adults of our exclusionary society.—Derrick Bell, New York Times Book Review

In instituting the [‘you can’t say you can’t play’] rule, Paley was challenging the assumption that cruelty in childhood is to be expected and that children should fend for themselves when it happens—notions she believes unfairly relieve adults of their duty to intervene. And she rejects the idea that children could benefit from such experiences.—Theresa Defino, Washington Post

[Paley] is an esteemed kindergarten teacher whose previous writing has been about using children’s stories and fantasies as vehicles for learning. Here she interweaves her private reflections, her conversations with children, and a story she spins, to tell what happened when she instituted a radical new order in her classroom. Her new rule prohibited children from excluding someone who wanted to play. The implications of such a non-exclusion rule are profound; most of the children resisted at first, but with discussion began to adjust their behavior and truly experience the benefits of making no one a stranger. Paley makes a powerful statement in this slim book: to teachers, parents, and society at large.Booknews

In this brief, ethereal and tender account of social relations among children, Paley…explores how to keep students from being ignored by their classmates. Woven throughout Paley’s lessons is a parable about loneliness and rejection, which enables readers to share a child’s view of the world. What the kids have to say is enchanting and surprisingly wise.Publishers Weekly

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