Skip to Main Content

Meaningful Play (children and teens): General Resources

Johan Huizinga, author of Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture, said, "All play means something." This guide provides resources for rediscovering the importance of play and putting play back into learning in the classroom and at home.


Gaming is a passion of mine. For me, games are at their peak when they blend play and storytelling in a meaningful way. Games are a great way to have fun, but they are also a great tool for education. With the increased focus on standardized testing and strict curricula, educators and students can both feel the weight of the system on their shoulders. One of my professional goals is to help educators, parents, and students put play back into learning by sharing resources about the importance of play and increasing awareness about the ways that games can be used as vehicles for education. Video games and screen time have their place, but for those concerned about the prevalence of digital devices in daily life, modern board games offer a plethora of options, cover a variety of topics, and exercise essential skills (math, reading, critical thinking, communication, and fine motor skills) and imaginative play is essential for brain development. In addition to the resources in this guide, I write about play and gaming on my website, To Play is Human.

To Play is Human logo


Thankfully, database and catalog searching has become a bit easier than combing through endless drawers of catalog cards over the years!

The Chicago Public Library has a handful of databases relevant to researching matters of play and education.

  • EBSCO Magazines and Journals: This database will search 3500+ scholarly journals and general magazines. Use requires an active CPL library card.
  • ERIC: This database is an initiative of of the US Department of Education and searches education-related journal descriptions and publications dating back to 1966. Use of the database does not require an active CPL card, but accessing materials found via the database may require an active CPL card or other subscription.
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library: This database searches reference publications on a variety of topics, including education. Use requires an active CPL library card.


The Chicago Public Library (CPL) has several staff lists that anyone can explore on their website. Because these lists have been made at various times, they may include titles that are no longer available at CPL. Here are a few related to Meaningful Play, some of which contain media you will find throughout my guide, as well as dozens of other titles.

There are also several community-created lists on the CPL website. Because these lists are made by the community, they may include titles that are not available at CPL. Here are a few related to Meaningful Play:

A note on locating resources

This guide is built around resources available through the Chicago Public Library, but many of the resources can be found in other libraries and some resources in this guide are free to use without any library affiliation. If you see resources that interest you, check your home library's catalog (or interlibrary loan program) to see if you can source them for free.