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Preface O Over the last couple of decades, the world has changed and the early years have become too important and serious for mere child’s play. We live in a world of prenatal curriculums and high-pressure preschools; a world where there’s no longer time for dramatic play or recess; a world where childhood is rushed through and play is replaced by flash cards and worksheets. A January 2012 American Academy of Pediatrics arti- cle, published online, concludes its abstract by saying, “Societal priori- ties for young children—safety and school readiness—may be hindering children’s physical development” (Copeland et al. 2012, 1). We believe they go farther than that. We believe these “societal priorities” are also hindering emotional, cognitive, and social development. The push for safety and academic learning, while well intentioned, has had unin- tended consequences. It has resulted in sterile, boring, and passionless early childhood programs that fail to trust children as learners. In the article, the authors say they were surprised to find that a “societal focus on ‘academics’ extended even to the preschool-aged group” they studied (Copeland et al. 2012, 6). We were not surprised. Anyone who has worked with children over the last few decades can share stories about the push toward formal academics—and away from play—in early learning programs. The loss of play is detrimental for all children, especially those living in poverty. Another American Academy of Pediatrics article, originally published online in December 2011, states, “For children who are underresourced to reach their highest potential, it is essential that parents, educators, and pediatricians rec- ognize the importance of lifelong benefits that children gain from play” (Milteer and Ginsburg 2011, e204). That article concludes by saying, xiii