Adults find it difficult to play on their own, I discovered in the final round of edits with The Little Book of Play.

I had given out around 30 books to get feedback from the widest variety of adults I possibly could (including one or two kids). Instructions were simple: during the next month, open the book and engage with its invitations to play.

The Little Book of Play can be described as an exercise book, full of activities that invite you to play. In your playing, our hope is that you’re surprised, see the world a little differently, feel a new feeling, or have a new thought.


When the month was up, I called or met with as many of the 30 that I could, to hear about their experiences.

Some people loved it and couldn’t put it down. Some said they looked through it, but couldn’t engage as the activities didn’t seem right for them, or weren’t sure they’d add any value. Others were somewhere in between.

The overwhelming repeating feedback, especially from those who didn’t engage as much, was that many of the invitations to play felt like they were being asked to stretch too far out of their comfort zones.


Keep in mind that the book was purposefully designed to be an easy way for adults to play, having had a large gap between childhood (a play paradise) to wherever they were currently in their lives (a play desert).

I was struggling to understand why these adults had found it so uncomfortable, when I stumbled on the following question:

If there had been a child with you while looking at that particular page, would you have found it any easier to accept the invitation to play?

And boom!, that was it. Almost everyone said it would have been simple had a child been with them. I then asked if it would have made a difference if their partner, or a close friend had been with them? Same answer.

I don’t know why this is so. I have theories and opinions, but I don’t have a definitive and accurate answer. It was, however, an interesting discovery.

Whatever the reason, I have adjusted my expectations for adults to engage in solo-play. I’ve gone from looking for and inventing activities that are solo, to ones that involve others.

Anything to make play easier for adults to access.