This delightful visual book provides an accessible introduction to how play affects the holistic development and brain growth of children from birth to five years. Written by a leading expert, it brings current theory to life by inviting the reader to celebrate the developing brain that loves to play and is hungry for sensitive human interaction and rich play opportunities. Packed full of images and links to film clips of children playing in a variety of contexts on the companion website, chapters focus on different ages and stages of development, providing snapshots of real play scenarios to explore their play preferences and the theory that underpins their play behaviour. With clear explanations of what is happening in the body and brain at each "stage," this book reveals the richness of the play opportunities on offer and the adult’s role in facilitating it. Each chapter follows an easy-to-navigate format which includes: • Best practice boxes showing how play in different contexts has impacted a child’s development • QR codes linking to short film clips on a companion website to exemplify key points • Brain and body facts sections providing short accessible explanations of key theories • Play and pedagogy discussion questions • Extended material to support the level four descriptors for degree-level study. With opportunities to dig deeper, full-colour photographs, and a fully integrated companion website, The Brain that Loves to Play is essential reading for all early years students and practitioners and all those with an interest in child development.