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date: 29 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Ethnographic reports of children's play in cultures around the world demonstrate that pretense is a widespread, perhaps universal, part of children's play, but the quantity and quality of pretense may differ significantly. This chapter reviews evidence of cultural variation in the role of pretend play, including how much children engage in pretend play across different ages, and the content of their play—in particular to what extent their play is interpretive pretense (based on experience) or inventive pretense (based on imagination). Cultural beliefs, values, and practices that are relevant to pretense are also addressed. The chapter concludes that the focus on and particular expression of pretense in children's play is mediated, in part, by cultural agendas. Although pretense appears to be a universal in childhood, its role in everyday life and its engagement with reality and non-reality vary significantly, and therefore also its impact on children's experience and development.

Keywords: culture, ethnography, importance of play, interpretive pretense, inventive pretense, play and development, pretend play

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