Children have played with blankets ever since ancient agrarians domesticated woolly animals and spun their coats for fabrics. In imaginative play and make-believe, kids have discovered the many playful uses for the blanket. It fills in for a king’s robe, a bride’s veil, a superhero’s cape, a Roman soldier’s cloak, a princess’s flowing gown, and a wizard’s flying carpet. Thrown over a table, it forms a tent; draped around two chairs, it becomes a fort; on top of the carpet, it serves as a safe island surrounded by sea monsters. In puppet shows, the blanket substitutes for theater curtains; for a magician, the blanket conceals the secrets of the show. And in tug-of-war, the blanket gets top billing. It is also suitable for tossing toys in the air or for parachuting them back to earth.
Even Robert Louis Stevenson praised blanket play—the only play available to a sick boy confined to bed in his “The Land of Counterpane.”
And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills,
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills.
And best of all, blankets gave cover to legions of kids who read by flashlight long into the night.