Peekaboo ­ a World at Play

Page 1

A book by Pontus Andersson, Carmilla Floyd, Marita Lindqvist & Lars Sundh Ar abic

Ger m a n Guck-guck-Spiel

Russia n Пря т к и

Belarusi a n г ул ьн я ў хова н к і

greek παρακα λώ

Spa nish Cucú

Cata la n Cucú


‫ק וקו‬

Sw edish Tittut

Chinese 躲 猫猫

Hu ngaria n Kukucs

Tagalog Bulaga

Dutch Kiekeboe

Japa nese


Th ai


Korea n

tu nisia n ar abic

Fin nish Kukkuu

Polish Akuku



portuguese Tuti


aWorld at Play ocean

P L AY I N G FO R C HAN G E Play is a universal language—that becomes obvious in this unique book. Here, children from all corners of the globe unite. Whether living in the Sahara desert or in a Swedish suburb they play—football or water tag, twirling hula-hoops or spinning tops.


S elfpor t rai t b y M errill F i t z gi b b ons ( 2 years ) playing foo t b all

4  Peekaboo ~ a World at Play

very child has the right to self-respect. Therefore, children also play. This right is enshrined in play best if they are free from adult Article 31 of the UN Convention on direction, allowed to make their own the Rights of the Child—the most choices and follow their instincts. In universally adopted international so many other parts of their lives treaty in history. Unfortunately, Ar- children are bound by rules set by ticle 31 is often forgotten or ignored. parents or teachers. Free play gives The right to play may seem natural the opportunity to develop as an inbut millions of children are denied dependent, creative and enterprising it. Even in the most depressive envi- citizen of the world. Common sense says playing is ronments and hazardous situations, playing can be a key to the future, good for you. But it is also supportempowering children and young ed by data. Scientists in experimenpeople, enhancing self-awareness tal neuroscience and biology study play from an evolutionary perspecand self-esteem. Playing is fun and fundamental to tive in both humans and animals. children enjoying their childhood. More and more, researchers agree Play keeps you happy and healthy. that play is not only about kids releasAccording to recent research, it is ing ­energy and having fun, but also a also essential for human develop- central part of neurological development. Play improves and maintains ment and growth. It helps children to your mind, helps you learn and be build their brains to be complex creative. Children have an instinc- and cognitively flexible, tive need to express themselves, to responsible and socially make sense of the world around competent. Research has them. The freedom to choose and also shown that imaginaexplore, create, move around and tive and rowdy ‘free play’ is challenge themselves and others— most important, as opposed is vital to building self-esteem and to more structured activities. Peekaboo ~ a World at Play  5

Play seems to be so important to our development and survival that some think the need to play has become a biological drive. Of course our primary need is to survive from one day to the next, but as children our drive to play may be almost equally strong if playing helps develop our rapidly growing brains. Children need food and water to survive, but to truly live they also need to play! C hil d ren ro b b e d of t heir chil d hoo d s

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child: Article 31 1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts. 2. States Parties shall respect and promote the right of the child to participate fully in cultural and artistic life and shall encourage the provision of appropriate and equal opportunities for cultural, artistic, recreational and leisure activity.

6  Peekaboo ~ a World at Play

How does not being able to play ­affect us? I was myself a quiet and rather lonely child who could sit for hours outside with a pile of stones, building my own imaginary universe. I lived very much in a fantasy­ land where anything could happen. But I also longed for friends, someone to share my games with. I see myself in Nga, 17, from Vietnam, who in the book talks about growing up bullied and isolated from other children. She says: ‘I felt as though I was cut off from the human race.’ As a teenager, drawing on my personal experiences, I founded an antibullying organization called Friends. My aim was to give all children a chance to grow up safe and happy. If you are friendless and lonely, never invited to play and laugh with friends, it can make you lose your sense of self-worth. You miss out on inter­ acting with others and develop­ ing social skills. You tend to become withdrawn and stop taking initiatives, effectively being rob­ bed of your childhood. My idea was to educate those working with children—school staff, sports leaders, parents and other children—at schools, pre-schools and sports as­ so­ciations. They in turn would train children to become peer supporters. To date, Friends has grown to a successful organization and has

trained over 25,000 young peer supporters and over 300,000 adults around Sweden on how to build strategies against degrading treatment and discrimination in schools. Still, we have a long way to go before all children have a safe and joyful childhood. Barriers t o play

Barriers to play differ widely, depending on where in the world a child lives and under what sort of circumstan­ ces. Poverty, disease, abuse and environmental hazards are some of the serious obstacles to play around the world. Neither child laborers in India nor child sex slaves in South Asia are allowed fun and games. But there are barriers to play in all corners of the world, rich and poor. In the book’s section ‘My Favorite Game’, children from all walks of life talk about the games they love. Rama, 12, from India, drew her dream house. Here she would have room to play and put a swing in the garden. In reality, she lives in a shack next to the train tracks and spends her time taking care of the family household and working in the train station. And ­Sabrina, 13 from Shanghai, says she wishes she could invite friends over to play a game. Instead she spends most of her time going back and forth to school, often stuck in the mega­ city’s traffic jams. She can’t play during weekdays anyway because of a heavy load of homework. The two girls live in very different worlds but they are united in their wish to play more. Archaic gender roles and restrictive norms that rule our societies is a universal barrier to play. Not only are girls in some parts of the world ­often more restricted in their play because of heavy work schedules and less freedom of movement than boys. Gender and norms influence the way children play everywhere. In a country like Sweden, often described as the most equal on earth, the last ­decade has seen an ever increasing

division by gender between what kind of games girls and boys play and what toys they use. Toy stores are strictly divided into color-coded girls’ and boys’ sections. Girls are still expected to play only with dolls or pretend to be princesses while boys are encouraged to play with action figures, toy swords and cars. Why is this a problem? I believe that playing is an opportunity for children to act out different roles and be whatever they want to be. In play children can use their imagination and try out new activities and roles. They are free to challenge stereotypes and norms instead of adapting to them. It is this kind of unrestricted play that gives one the strength and experience later in life to think creatively and find unexpected solutions to problems. In her interview, Gabatshwane, 14, from South Africa, proves my point. She says playing is important because ‘when you play you control your own time. What you do is up to you. You’re in your own world and can let your imagination run wild … You can be anything! If you want to be the president of South Africa you can be and you’ll probably have much more fun than the real president.’ Common for most children, inclu­ ding the hundreds I have met in countries like Sweden and Russia, Vietnam, Ghana and the US, is their frustration with negative and forbidding attitudes in adults. I recently sat down with a group of child laborers in Ghana. They worked twelve hours in a stone quarry but did not want to talk specifically about their horrific working conditions. Instead they described their disappointment with society’s refusal to listen to children and protect their rights. They worried about the lack of communication with parents and with decisionmakers. I have often heard the same points being brought up by children in Europe, in spite of the fact that the Child’s Right to be Heard is, as is the Right to Play, enshrined in the

UN Convention of the Rights of the Child. Unfortunately, it is just as often ignored. M a k ing a C hange

Children may play best when adults stay out of the way. But when it comes to removing barriers to play, the responsibility lies with us. Working with Friends against bullying in schools I learned that adults are important when it comes to equipping children with core values such as empathy, fairness and kindness. Parents, policymakers and activists can also play a part in making real changes, whether it is building a safe bicycle path or playground, making children feel welcome in their communities or simply allowing time for unscheduled fun. It is up to us to fulfill the intentions of the Child Rights Convention and give children their Right to Play. An increasing number of social entrepreneurs, academics and organizations are fighting for children’s Right to Play. Some hold conferences and write research papers, some build inclusive playgrounds while others design ecological toys or set up safe play spaces in prisons or re­ fugee camps. Many researchers and activists testify to children bringing events they’ve heard or seen on the news into their art and play. Watching the way children play can also give adults a window into their thoughts and feelings and opens the door for dialogue and specific support. I saw evidence of this in Cambodia, when visiting a rehabili­tation center run by the Somaly Mam Foundation. They use art, cultural expression and free play to help former child sex-slaves to recover from their traumatic experiences in brothels. I asked the children how they could move on from the cruelties they had endured. They told me ‘we play’. Then they showed me their games and invited me to join them. I saw the sparkle return to Peekaboo ~ a World at Play  7

S ahara , A L G E R I A

‘You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.’

Plato, greek philosopher

Photos by Kim Naylor

A WORLD AT P L AY Play is a universal language that everybody can learn. Be inspired by a world of hula-hoops and tops, skipping and twirling, juggling and jumping from dusk till dawn.

22  Peekaboo ~ a World at Play

These photos show children playing in schools, playgrounds, parks and private homes as well as in orphanages and safe houses for the poorest and most vulnerable groups. We have chosen not to name the children in this section in order to protect their privacy.

Peekaboo ~ a World at Play  23

hoop S Cheap and fun, hoops made of plastic or metal, rattan, grapevines, bamboo or an old bicycle tire can be twirled around your waist, neck, arms or legs.


2 4  Peekaboo ~ a World at Play

Peekaboo ~ a World at Play  25

C e r c e a u x • h o e l a h o e p • フラフ ープ • c h u l a j h o p • H u l l a m k a r i k a

RO C K R I N G • ‫ • חישוקים‬r e n k a at • h u l a h o p r i n g e





26  Peekaboo ~ a World at Play



Peekaboo ~ a World at Play  27

DOLLS A doll or cuddly toy is forever; a playmate to tell secrets and fall asleep next to. A child’s best friend can be a miniature human being, a teddy bear, a crocheted rabbit or a plush puppy made of stuffed plush.


50  Peekaboo ~ a World at Play

Peekaboo ~ a World at Play  51

P oppen • lal k i • Ja t é k b a b a • Doli

mu ñ ecas • M anyi k a • nu k e t • P oup é es




DJ U R S H O L M , S W E D E N

52  Peekaboo ~ a World at Play

k apiri , U G A N D A


lon d on , E N G L A N D

Peekaboo ~ a World at Play  53

ropes 92  Peekaboo ~ a World at Play

A piece of string or a rope is cheap and readily available. Tie it to a cart or a kite and playing can begin. Challenge the winds, bungee jump, test your strength in a game of tug o’ war.


Peekaboo ~ a World at Play  93

spring t ouw • Ù gro k ö t é l • ひ も • C or d es

L u b i d • C uer d as • k ö y d e t • k am b a • re b




94  Peekaboo ~ a World at Play

Kisumu , Kenya



M anila , P hilippines

Peekaboo ~ a World at Play  95

HOME MADE With inventiveness and patience and using materials like paper, wood, rags and toilet paper rolls children around the world create magnificent dolls, musical instruments and make-believe cell phones. 1 2 8  Peekaboo ~ a World at Play


Peekaboo ~ a World at Play  1 29

h j emmela v e t • H á z i k es z i t es ü • F ai t - maison • 手 作 り

k o t i t e k oinen • hemg j or t • ‫ י ד‬- ‫ • ע ב ו ד ו ת‬C asero

H I LT O N H E A D , U S A

S ahara , A L G E R I A

o d ense , d enmar k

Ban d iagara , M ali

132  Peekaboo ~ a World at Play


A B O M E Y, B E N I N


Peekaboo ~ a World at Play  133

han d games Our hands are useful toys for games like Shadow Play, Rock-Paper-Scissors, creative shakes and hand clapping games built on rhymes and rhythm.


134  Peekaboo ~ a World at Play

Peekaboo ~ a World at Play  135

Juego d e mano • Tapu t uslei k i t • L arong k amay

k lappelege • ‫ • מ ש ח ק י י ד י י ם‬cluiche ar l á imh


H I LT O N H E A D , U S A



136  Peekaboo ~ a World at Play


S ahara , A L G E R I A


Peekaboo ~ a World at Play  137

F O O TB A L L The world’s most popular sport. It can be played anywhere, at anytime with anyone. Whether using a ball made of old rags or of leather, perfected by engineers in research labs, it comes down to kicking the ball around and trying to score.


138  Peekaboo ~ a World at Play

Peekaboo ~ a World at Play  139

‘My fav ori t e game ’ Playing is essential—to dream, to explore and to survive. Above all, playing is fun. From tag to tic-tac-toe, ice hockey and kabbadi, everybody has a favorite game. We asked children from around the world to draw the game they love to play.

146  Peekaboo ~ a World at Play

Peekaboo ~ a World at Play  147

china , S hanghai

M onopoly

‘My favorite game is Monopoly. It is a money game where you buy land and build houses. I like to buy land, build houses and earn money—it seems very realistic. It is fun and exciting. If I had a wish or a choice I would want to invite my best classmates to my home to play Monopoly on a Saturday afternoon. If this really happened, I would be very happy and excited. They can’t come because my mom does not allow it and also because of the great distances between our homes. I can’t play with my parents because my dad says it would take a long time to finish the game and it is “a waste of time”. ’  S a b rina , 1 2

148  Peekaboo ~ a World at Play

Peekaboo ~ a World at Play  149

C hasing a car

‘The first time a car came to my village all us kids started chasing it. We had never seen anything like it before. It was so much fun to run after it. That’s my favorite game of all time. I had to stop playing when I was nine as I was kidnapped by an armed group and forced to become a soldier.’  Bwami , 1 7

150  Peekaboo ~ a World at Play

D. R . C ongo , Kinshasa

C arom

Bangla d esh , Barisal

‘My favorite game is carom. We don’t have a carom board at home so I go over to a friend’s house and play there. You flick the striker with your finger and try to knock your counters into the pockets. It’s like billiards but you use your fingers and you have counters instead of balls. So, you have to have nimble fingers!’  S houmi , 1 1

Peekaboo ~ a World at Play  151

S we d en , U M E Å

156  Peekaboo ~ a World at Play

The Trippel t rops

Jumping cas t le

‘I love being the Trippeltrops. This is a game best played with several friends, like Tuva, Clara and Ester. A Trippeltrop is a meat eater, walking around looking for humans to eat. I am the queen of the Trippeltrops.’  Til d e , 4

‘This is a picture of me and my friends Thea, Philip, Tuva and Svante. We’re in a jumping castle. It is set up in my kindergarten every year at our summer party and that is the best day. We jump and play until we are soaked in sweat. Then we eat popcorn.’  L ucas , 5

H i d e - A N D - S ee k

Ka j sa & Kalle

‘My best game ever was when I played hide-andseek with my friend Ingrid. We were in the forest and I stood by a pine tree, counting to 30. I had my superhero-shirt on and it was a hot day. Ingrid was in a good hiding place behind a stone, but I found her pretty quickly.’  C arla , 5

‘My friend Judith and I play this game. It is called Kajsa and Kalle. I’m usually Kajsa, the girl, and Judith plays Kalle, the boy. Sometimes we switch. We are girl and boy bugs.’  F ilippa , 4

Peekaboo ~ a World at Play  157

P hilippines , M A N I L A

M a k e - b elie v e lap t op

‘I drew my own laptop, it has a screen and all the right buttons and every­thing. I love to use the computer, but I can’t afford one. I like to play games and write stories. Where I used to live at home I sometimes used the computer at an internet café and played online games. At the safe house we can sometimes use the computer, but not long enough to really pay a game, there are too many of us girls here. I’d also like to have a pair of blue rollerskates because I like to move fast!’  R osemari , 1 1 Rosemari lives in a safe house for victims of human trafficking. She hides her face to protect her identity.

164  Peekaboo ~ a World at Play

Peekaboo ~ a World at Play  165

Japan , t o k yo

172  Peekaboo ~ a World at Play

F oo t b all

plan t ing

‘I like to play football. I painted a green ball but my real ball is blue. That is why I painted a small blue ball too. Behind me is the football goal. I like playing football but only if I can be the goalkeeper!’  M asaya , 5

‘I like planting vegetables and see tomatoes and carrots growing. I love planting but I don’t really like actually eating the carrots.’  N agi t a , 5

Japan , t o k yo

Peekaboo ~ a World at Play  173

P hilippines , N asug b u

Designing b all gowns

‘I love drawing and designing dresses, especially ball gowns and party dresses. My favorite color is pink. I can sew too, on a machine. My auntie taught me and once she helped me make little doll’s dresses with my designs. I can hardly ever do it though, because pens and paper is very expensive. My father is a fisherman and we can’t afford a lot of nice materials. He doesn’t mind his son wanting to become a fashion designer instead of a fisherman. I’m working at Olive’s store to save money for going to school and to buy materials. Meanwhile, I think about my designs and plan them in my head.’  A ngelo , 1 3

Peekaboo ~ a World at Play  187

I n d ia , Bhu b aneshwar

t ag

‘I drew my dream house. If I had my own house, I’d have room to play and I would put a swing in my garden. Now, I live with my family in a tent near the train station. When I have time I play tag with other children in the station, but I don’t have much free time. My mother is ill so I have to work. I used to beg on the platform but now I collect plastic bottles and sell them.’   R ama , 1 2

Amanda Amanda, 6, lives in Rishon Lesion in Israel with her parents, grandparents, and two siblings. She was born in Israel but her family is originally from Bukhara in Uzbekistan. Everyone in her family are musicians and perform around the world with their folklore band, spreading the Jewish music of Bukhara. I have been part of my family’s band since I was four. All the kids in my family start playing the drums before we can even speak! I started learning the violin when I was four and have performed in front of big crowds on all kinds of stages and even on television. I like to play the violin, but when I grow up I want to be a singer like my father, or maybe a doctor. But I prefer to be a singer! I love to play with dolls and make-believe, play doctor and do hand clapping games. If I had to pick one thing I guess it would be playing with dolls. My best friend is also my neighbor. We met when we were babies and go to the same class at school. I like to play all the time, and I like it better to play in my own house than at my friend’s. Even though she has many more dolls than I, we a have more room to play and move around. To be able to play more I would need a lot of time. I am very busy with homework and music school and helping my mother around

192  Peekaboo ~ a World at Play

the house. When I was in kinder­ garten it was better because I didn’t have as much to do. I would also like to have more dolls. But soon I will have a new little brother to play with and that will be so much fun. My big brother and sister don’t like to play with me much because they are already grown ups. But when I make-believe I’m a doctor I play with everybody in the house and they play with me, I go from one to the other and check them and help them feel better. My mom I help the most, and my grandma to. She also plays doctor with me, but sometimes we just draw together. Are there any games you don’t like? I don’t like puzzles. Because I have only one, and it is boring to do the same puzzle more than once when I already know where all the parts go.

Gabatshwane Gabatshwane, 14, lives in Lethabong-Rustenberg in South Africa. Both her parents died of A IDS when she was very young. Gaba is the lead singer of a band that is named Gabatshwane, after her. The money Gabatshwane makes from her music goes towards helping the poor and the orphaned in her area. I like many different games. I like to play video games and football; anything really as long as it’s not

girlie stuff like playing with dolls. Another game I like is Diketo. You throw a stone up in the air and while it’s up there you are supposed to grab as many stones from the ground as possible. If you don’t catch the stone before it hits the ground you’re out. I don’t have much time to play anymore. School is important and I am also the lead singer in a band. But sometimes on Sundays

‘I don’t like puzzles. Because I have only one, and it is boring to do the same puzzle more than once when I already know where all the parts go.’        amanda, 6, israel

I have time to play video games or just hang out with my friends. I used to play during school recess but I don’t anymore. The boys run around but us girls mostly sit and talk. I used to play more when I was younger but school is my number one priority now and to be honest I don’t really miss it so much. You shouldn’t play as much when you get older. Have you ever seen a group of grown ups play tag? No, because it’s weird! Playing is important because it let’s you take a break from all the serious things in your life. And when you play you control your own time. What you do is up to you. You’re in your own world and can let your imagination run wild as much as you want. You can be anything! If you want to be the president of South Africa you can, and you’d probably have much more fun than the real president. Playing also helps you when you are older because if you have imagined things then you can achieve them later in life. In that way play is the foundation of your future. Peekaboo ~ a World at Play  193


‘Play, yes it filled our days. What would my childhood have been like without it!’

198  Peekaboo ~ a World at Play

Astrid Lindgren, author

Peekaboo ~ a World at Play  199

C hanging t he worl d t hrough play Around the world child rights advocates and social entrepreneurs are using everything from role play to safe playgrounds and cartoons to help create a better, more playful world. Meet some of the courageous and innovative individuals who fight every day to give children better opportunities for free play.

200  Peekaboo ~ a World at Play

Naif Al-Mutawa k u wa i t

The playground is a great equalizer


a i f A l -M u tawa , is a clinical psychologist and CEO of Teshkeel Media Group, a Middle East based company focused on creating children’s media based on or infused with local culture. In 2006 he created The 99, the world’s first comic universe inhabited by superheroes whose powers are based on core Islamic values like kindness, generosity, wisdom and honesty. The 99 was recently commended by US President Barack Obama for capturing the imagination of young people through its message of tolerance. ‘Play is important for many reasons. It forms the very first cultural transactions that you have, through imagination. I see this in my own children, playing on their own, creating their own universes. Children grow up in different ways at different speeds. Some kids grow taller before their brains develop and some kid’s brains develop before they grow taller. So play gives us a leveling field of sorts, especially when it comes to creative play. When you’re an adult you are able to find people who are at your level. Then you can play intellectually if you will, and discuss ideas or play racquetball. But as a child it can be very tough to find people who are at your level and the playground is a great equalizer. If children’s are denied the right to play, energy that is not focused outwards can become focused inwards. I think the same forces that can create can also destroy. If there is not a proper outlet for child­ ren’s energies, they can hurt.’ Naif Al Mutawa divides his time between homes in Kuwait and the US. In Kuwait, one of the main barriers to play is the weather. Extreme temperatures in the summer months makes it unbearable, even dangerous, to play outside. ‘I don’t like the fact that my kids sometimes spend

too much time playing video games, but how do you argue with the weather? Also, whether I like it or not, kids today are wired. I never really got into videogames myself, though I grew up in the age of Atari and Pacman. It never excited me. I played sports; soccer and volleyball were my life! A lot of the lessons I’ve learned, especially in humility, come from my days in soccer. Another barrier to play in Kuwait is the focus on materialism. It is more about “let’s buy the next game” instead of “let’s get to know this game properly, understand its rules and develop our minds”. It becomes more about collecting than appreciating.’ Through The 99 Naif Al Mutawa gives children action packed adventure while at the same time promoting diversity, tolerance and respect. His superheroes, Widad the Loving, Bari the Healer, Noor the light and their friends, are from 99 countries, with different cultures and religions. ‘We need new cultural icons that don‘t disappoint our children, that bring all human beings together’, he says. ‘The 99 is based on an old story, passed on through generations in the Muslim world; in 1258, the Mongols invaded Bagdad and destroyed it, including all the books from the famous Bait alHikma library. I rewrote that story. In my version, the librarians secretly save the knowledge from the books putting on to 99 gemstones. The stones are scattered throughout the world and, centuries later, fuel the 99 heroes who are boys and girls from 99 countries. I really think the stories in The 99 can make a difference. It is not religious, the characters are neutral and, intended to reflect universal values that we all share as human beings, and guess what, Islam shares it too. We go back to the same source that people have used for negative massages and put positive messages. That confuses the system. Kind of creates a cognitive dissonance, which is the whole objective. Something can be a very useful tool or you can use it to kill somebody. Depends on who handles it.’ Naif Al Mutawa’s favorite pastime as a child was reading everything from comic books to novels. ‘Growing up, a lot of books I wanted to read were banned, still are. That is why I write in English be­cause my writing is informed by my reading. I hate censorship of all kinds. What happens when you ban books is that kids who are curious will end up reading them in other languages, developing their skills and creativity. The irony is that in the name of saving our Arabic culture and language, the ministries of information are killing it. Because people like me end up reading and writing in other people’s languages.’ Some parents do not let their children read or watch The 99. Peekaboo ~ a World at Play  201

Millions discover their favorite reads on issuu every month.

Give your content the digital home it deserves. Get it to any device in seconds.