There are numerous benefits to playing board games. One of the best parts about hosting a family game night is seeing the variety of games and themes available. And when it comes to educational benefits, it’s easy to see how most board games help kids practice math skills, as well as other skills, like reading and writing.
Reading and storytelling are often part of games, but not always a central focus in the gameplay. So here are five storytelling games to spark kids’ imaginations — and foster reading and storytelling capabilities.
Dungeons & Dragons
Dungeons & Dragons by Wizards of the Coast is a story-driven tabletop roleplaying game. From player character backstories to the fantasy world their adventure takes place in – there are incredible opportunities to engage in storytelling.
There are a variety of campaigns to choose from, or you can create your world. It is a fantastic game to play with kids because it encourages them to use their imagination and creativity, not only about how their character acts and what they look like, but also using creative problem solving throughout the adventure. Players make choices based on how their character would act, and dice rolls help determine the outcomes.
There are also lots of other roleplaying games geared toward younger children. I highly recommend Hero Kids RPG as an introduction to D&D style games for younger children and families. It is a little more streamlined and uses only six-sided dice.
Rory’s Story Cubes
Rory’s Story Cubes by Zygomatic is a fun way to encourage imagination and creativity. The original set of Rory’s Story Cubes includes nine dice with a total of 54 different images. Players roll the dice and tell a story starting with, “Once upon a time…” that includes each of the pictures they rolled.
This game helps kids think outside of the box. It teaches them how to use all of the images within their stories. You can also have other players build off of the first story or roll and create an entirely new one. The key is to get creative!
There are several sets of themed dice expansions that can be played on their own or combined with the original set. It’s very portable, making it an excellent game for road trips or for playing at the beach.
Dixit by Libellud and Asmodee is a card game for 3-6 players. Players take turns being the storyteller. The storyteller chooses a card from their hand and makes up a sentence about it without showing it. Then each player selects a card from their hand that best matches the storyteller’s sentence and submits them face down.
Next, the storyteller shuffles their card in with the ones submitted. Then, those cards are dealt face-up, and players bid on which card was the storyteller’s card. It takes about 30 minutes to play, and the first person to gain 30 points wins.
Dixit is a great game for kids to practice imaginative storytelling because it encourages them to go beyond merely describing what is depicted on the card. They also practice listening and comprehension as they select a card to fit the storyteller’s sentence.
Before There Were Stars
Before There Were Stars by Smirk & Dagger is a solid storytelling game for 3-6 players. Players roll dice to draft constellation cards. Throughout the game, players tell a story about the origin of civilization, from the creation of the world to the rise of a hero and the end of days.
Each round, players secretly award star points to each other, and players are encouraged to share what they liked about other players’ stories.
This game offers a great exercise in creative storytelling by allowing players to use their imagination while also stringing together a story within the limits of their dice rolls and card selection.
Experts recommended the game for children ages 10+; however, we have played it with our younger children. Players under eight years old may need a little more assistance with the gameplay and storytelling structure. You could also opt-out of the voting and scoring part and focus solely on using the game as a tool for creative storytelling.
Call to Adventure
Call to Adventure by Brotherwise Games is an engaging, character-driven storytelling game for 1-4 players. It is an excellent option for older children and adults.
Players acquire traits and challenge cards over three rounds. These cards tell their character’s origin story, motivation, and destiny. Rather than rolling dice, the game takes a unique approach by having players cast runes to complete challenges. This game gets you to think about your character with every turn. In the end, it’s fun to use your cards to tell a story.
While players are limited to the cards dealt throughout the game, it’s fun to choose which ones best fit the story you are building for your character while also being strategic in gaining destiny points. Learn more about the gameplay in my Call to Adventure game review.
Are you looking for more educational themed games? Check out these board games that teach kids about the U.S.