Before I tell you the amazing story behind the founder of KaBOOM!, I want to tell you how RARE a book of games for kids to play outside is. I am sure these kind of books exist somewhere, but as a bookseller for almost twenty years, I have seen few cross my path in that time. There are plenty of books of things for kids to do while traveling by car, plane, boat or other form of transport. There are plenty of books on crafty things for kids to do inside. But there are no books that teach kids and parents games to play outdoors. Ok, I did a little research via the internet and discovered a handful of assorted books that might be ok in a pinch, but I really want you all to go out and buy Go Out and Play! for your own family and then for the PE teacher at your child's preschool or elementary school, if applicable. And this is why...
KaBOOM! is a national non-profit dedicated to saving play for America's children. Their mission is to create great playspaces through participation and leadership of communities. Ultimately, they envision a place to play within walking distance of every child in America. Darrell Hammond co-founded KaBOOM! after reading an article about children in his Washington DC neighborhood who suffocated after playing in an abandoned car. The death of these children fueled Hammond's sense of injustice and sparked a movement. KaBOOM! is a bit like Habitat for Humanity but with playgrounds, and they have already transformed 2,000 barren spaces into "kid designed, fun and imaginative" places to play with the help of more than one million volunteers. You can read more about this amazing organization in KaBOOM! How One Man Built a Movement to Play. Check out the highlights from the history of KaBOOM! :
- 1995: First KaBOOM! build takes place at Livingston Manor in Washington, DC.
- 1996: KaBOOM! is officially founded.
- 1997: Offer is made to “purchase” KaBOOM! by Ted Turner… offer refused.
- 1999: We build our first universally accessible playground with AAOS.
- 2001: We become the first nonprofit to have an ice cream flavor: Ben & Jerry’s KaBerry KaBOOM!.
- 2002: Our online Playground Project Planner is created to help us scale our impact online.
- 2003: We celebrate our 500th playground build at the Boys and Girls Club in Brampton, Ontario.
- 2005: We launch Operation Playground in the Gulf Coast after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita; First Lady Laura Bush attends playground build in Kiln, Miss.
- 2006: Our Map of Play is created and KaBOOM! reaches $20 million in annual funding.
- 2007: We establish our Playful City USA program and partner with Rockwell Group to develop Imagination Playground.
- 2009: First Lady Michelle Obama and California First Lady Maria Shriver join us to build a playground at Bret Harte Elementary School in San Francisco. KaBOOM! is featured on NBC's Parks and Recreation; staff must still answer the question, "Wait, KaBOOM! is real?"
- 2010: KaBOOM! is named one of the 50 Best Nonprofits to Work For by NonProfit Times in 2010 and 2011.
- 2011: We celebrate our 15th birthday and 2000th playground build at Imagine Southeast Public Charter School in Washington, DC; First Lady Michelle Obama attends.
Now, the book! Go Out and Play! has a format that is crisp, succinct and easy to follow. Kids can actually pick up this book, read it and teach other kids how to play a game! No adults needed, depending on the average age of the play group. Nine different chapters feature one game per page with a handy box at the bottom of each page that tells you the number of players needed, the age you should be to comprehend the game, the space you need to play in and the materials needed, which most often is none. Chapters have titles like, "Tag Games," "Hide-and-Seek Games," "Team Games," "Circle Games," "Race Games," and "No-Rules Games." Some are oldies-but-goodies you may have forgotten the rules to, like Duck-Duck-Goose, Red Rover, Red Light, Green Light and Sardines. Others, like "Clean Up Your Room," a game played with a volleyball net and lots of balls, were new to me and sound like a blast.
Even if KaBOOM! and their mission to make it safe and fun for kids to play outside was not behind this book, I would be very excited about Go Out and Play! and all the fantastic games inside of it.