The Case for Make Believe

Saving Play in a Commercialized World

From the bestselling author of Consuming Kids, a clarion call for rescuing creative play from the grips of commercialism

“A wonderful look at how playing can heal children, how in ‘pretend-worlds’ they can find their truest selves. [Linn’s] fierce advocacy for kids is on every page of this terrific book.” —The Boston Globe

In The Case for Make Believe, Harvard child psychologist Susan Linn tells the alarming story of childhood under siege in a commercialized and technology-saturated world. Although play is essential to human development and children are born with an innate capacity for make believe, Linn argues that, in modern-day America, nurturing creative play is not only countercultural—it threatens corporate profits.

A book with immediate relevance for parents and educators alike, The Case for Make Believe helps readers understand how crucial child’s play is—and what parents and educators can do to protect it. At the heart of the book are stories of children at home, in school, and at a therapist’s office playing about real-life issues from entering kindergarten to a sibling’s death, expressing feelings they can’t express directly, and making meaning of an often confusing world.

In an era when toys come from television and media companies sell videos as brain-builders for babies, Linn lays out the inextricable links between play, creativity, and health, showing us how and why to preserve the space for make believe that children need to lead fulfilling and meaningful lives.


“[A] welcome addition to such books as D.W. Winnicott’s Playing and Reality, Bruno Bettleheim’s The Uses of Enchantment, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s Flow.”
Library Journal
“Linn brings invaluable expertise to this well-organized and straightforward exploration of a neglected subject.”

Books by Susan Linn

Consuming Kids
The Hostile Takeover of Childhood

Susan Linn

Who’s Raising the Kids?
Big Tech, Big Business, and the Lives of Children

Susan Linn

Goodreads Reviews