Pacific professor emerita publishes book on importance of grandparent and grandchild play

Judy Van Hoorn

Pacific Professor Emerita Judith Van Hoorn (Judy) is an internationally-known expert on children’s play.

University of the Pacific Professor Emerita Judith Van Hoorn, an internationally-known expert on children’s play, recently published her first non-academic book titled The Gift of Play: How Grandparents Enhance the Lives of Young Grandchildren.

The book weaves Van Hoorn’s wisdom and favorite stories as a grandparent with professional insights to show how play enriches the lives of grandchildren, grandparents, and whole families.

"During the pandemic, I quickly became concerned that young children and grandparents had few opportunities to play and do the things they love," said Van Hoorn. "Imagine being a toddler or preschooler with no memories of life before COVID-19 and only memories of time spent indoors, watching a screen, and trying to be quiet while your parent works. Think of seniors who’ve spent months being extra cautious, indoors and isolated. Now that seniors are vaccinated, it's easy for them to resume playful visits with the young children they love."

In her book, Van Hoorn explains that grandparent and grandchild play supports development and learning, deepens loving relationships, and creates lasting memories. She offers practical tips to help grandparents discover new ideas for playing both in-person and virtually. Grandparents’ real-life stories and photos illuminate each chapter, from reading a favorite book to a toddler online to taking neighborhood nature walks.

"Play is a time for grandparents to recapture their childlike sense of wonder, a time to revel in spontaneous play, and a special time to feel and express love," explained Van Hoorn.

During her years at Pacific, Van Hoorn wrote numerous articles and books for educators, including Looking at Children’s Play and Play at the Center of the Curriculum, the international bestselling textbook on play. She received the Pacific Eberhardt Teacher-Scholar Award and the American Psychological Association Presidential Citation given to outstanding psychologists.

To learn more about Van Hoorn's book, visit her website for reviews, book overview, excerpts, photos, and recent articles on in-person and virtual intergenerational play. The book can be ordered wherever books are sold and the Pacific community is invited to order the book directly from Dr. Van Hoorn by emailing her at