Letting Play Bloom

Designing Nature-Based Risky Play for Children

Lolly Tai, With a foreword by Teri Hendy
Book Cover

HC: $50.00
EAN: 978-1-4399-2179-1
Publication: Jun 22

240 pages
8 x 10.5
213 color photos

Exploring innovative, inspiring, and creative ideas for designing children’s play spaces


Children love to play in risky—often misunderstood to mean unsafe—ways. It is often how they learn. Research shows that activities like climbing on trees and boulders, hiking in nature, and playing in a creek are excellent ways for kids to develop their creativity and their senses, because playing outdoors evokes different sights, sounds, smells, and textures.

Letting Play Bloom analyzes five outstanding case studies of children’s nature-based risky play spaces—the Slide Hill at Governors Island in New York, the Berkeley (CA) Adventure Playground, and Wildwoods at Fernbank Museum in Atlanta, as well as sites in the Netherlands and Australia. Author Lolly Tai provides detailed explanations of their background and design, and what visitors can experience at each site.

She also outlines the six categories of risky—not hazardous—play, which involve great heights, rapid speeds, dangerous tools, dangerous elements, rough-and-tumble play, and wandering or getting lost. These activities allow children to explore and challenge themselves (testing their limits) to foster greater self-worth while also learning valuable risk-management skills such as dealing with fear-inducing situations.

Filled with more than 200 photographs, Letting Play Bloom advocates for a thoughtful landscape design process that incorporates the specific considerations children need to fully experience the thrill that comes from playing in nature.

About the Author(s)

Lolly Tai is Professor of Landscape Architecture at Temple University. She is the award-winning author of The Magic of Children's Gardens: Inspiring Through Creative Design (Temple), and coauthor of the book Designing Outdoor Environments for Children. A Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects, she is the recipient of the Jot D. Carpenter Teaching Medal.