It's mid-July...the nights are long, the days are hot, and the kids are still home for the summer. Try a board game to beat the heat! We're living in a fantastic era of tabletop gaming, so you can let that dusty old copy of Monopoly stay buried under last year's beach towels--there's a whole world out there of exciting options. I've highlighted a selection of board games that I love (and regularly play in my own life), which fit a variety of ages, skill-levels, and situations. - Kimberly
Combining my two favorite things, Bring Your Own Book is the perfect activity for a varied group of people, and a MUST for die-hard book nerds. How to play: draw a suggestion card (e.g. "a line from a teenager's diary"), then everyone searches their chosen book to find a line that fits. Call it when you've got it ("it was the best of times, it was the worst of times"), and that round's judge chooses a winner. The versatility is endless. You can have a lot of fun it with any group, for however long. You can play with your favorite book, or one you've never read, or everyone can pick the same book (a great idea for a book club party game).
This oh-so-cute Sushi collecting game is jam packed with skill building mechanics-- basic counting, probability, pattern recognition, and resource management. Each round you select one card from your hand to keep, then everyone passes their whole hand. Game play is fast! Like a sushi boat making its way through a restaurant, you have to grab what you need to build a set, one sushi at a time (and hope another player doesn't snag it first). And did I mention it's super cute?
I love Forbidden Island for its relative strategic simplicity: find the artifacts, save the island from flooding. Easy. But to stay afloat and find the treasures, you need to think a few steps ahead of the card-drawn variable of floodwater as a team. You must work cooperatively to strategize on the most efficient use of your moves in order to escape the sinking island with your loot. This is an excellent introduction to strategy planning game play for younger children, but it still provides a challenge for older players. Packaged in a durable tin, Forbidden Island is great to take on the road.
A Super simple game that's easy for even the most inexperienced player to quickly learn. The game is built by adding path tiles on each round, and where the path leads, your piece must follow--even if it's colliding with another player or falling off the board completely! If yours is the last left standing, you win. Not a lot of concentration is needed to have fun with Tsuro, which is great for groups who'd like to chat around the table between turns. No reading required also means kids younger than the recommended age of 8 can get in the mix too. In the end, I think Tsuro's real strength is its fast-paced game play (15 min or less) and ability to work just as well with two players as it does eight.
A board game of storytelling, an excellent way to indulge the creativity of kids (and adults). Each card in the deck is illustrated with a different imaginative image, the meaning of which is totally up to you. The Storyteller for the round chooses a card from their hand and gives it a title, without showing the other players. Everyone then picks a card from their own hands that fits, all the cards are shuffled, and players try to guess which was the Storyteller's original card. An easy game to play with even very young children.