Reading and games go hand and hand. Games bring hands-on learning and practical application to things learned in books. For example, you may go over colors in Eric Carle books and a game will reinforce the concepts. These pairings are great for holiday gifts and parties when you don’t know what to give a child. Kids of all ages love games.
We think that these games and books are the perfect compliments to each other. The games are easy enough for little kids to play but fun enough that grown-ups won’t mind playing as well. Sometimes games can get annoying for parents. I cannot play another round of Hi Ho Cherry Oh or Chutes and Ladders. We have chosen games that will not drive you crazy when kids ask to play on repeat. We also included some book and game pairings for adults because Kirsten and I LOVE games.
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Toddler 18 months+
- Think fun Roll and Play pairs perfectly with From Head to Toe Board Book by Eric Carle because they both ask your toddler to mimic body movements.
- Hello, Sunshine and Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown go so well together as they teach children the opposites of night and day.
- First Orchard is all about gathering fruit and Each Peach Pear Plum by Allan Ahlberg continues the theme.
- Move and Groove Game and Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae both crack me up. The only thing more awkward than a dancing toddler is a dancing giraffe.
- The Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game is a fan favorite in my house, as is The Secret Life of Squirrels by Nancy Rose which uses real squirrels in the wacky pictures.
- Elefun Game has been around FOREVER but it never gets old. Ellie by Mike Wu tells a tale of an elephant who can do wonderful things with her trunk, just like Elefun.
- Little Balancing Game and The Wide Mouth Frog (A Pop-Up Book) both celebrate frogs with interactive fun.
- Seek a Boo and Where’s Spot? by Eric Hill are perfect for developing critical thinking skills.
Preschool Age 3+
- Rush Hour Jr. and If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen ask kids to think creatively about cars.
- Shelby’s Snack Shack and Dog Encyclopedia for Kids by Tammy Gagne is the perfect combo for all those dog lovers out there!
- The penguins in Pengoloo are too cute for words. Lost and Found by Oliver Jeffers is an equally charming penguin tale.
- Who doesn’t love Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons by Eric Litwin and James Dean? Pete is one cool cat as is Frankie from Frankie’s Food Truck Fiasco.
- Owl Babies by Martin Waddell teaches kids that momma always come back to the nest and in Hoot Owl Hoot players work together to get all the babie home before sunrise.
- If you are looking for silly fun check out Yeti In My Spaghetti and it’s perfect sidedish, Spaghetti with the Yeti by Adam Guillain.
- Another cooperative game (perfect for sore losers) Race to the Treasure has the family working together to stop the trolls from stealing the treasure, a very similar set-up as 3 Billy Goats Gruff by Jerry Pinkney.
- Hiss is a game all about identifying and matching colors and Brown Bear, Brown Bear by Bill Martin Jr. is the classic story of colors illustrated by Eric Carle.
- Last, Dinosaur Escape is a fun cooperative game for the Dino lovers in your life. Any of the How Do Dinosaur books would pair perfectly, but How do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight by Jane Yolen is my favorite in the series.
Elementary Age 6+
- Rush Hour Jr. and If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen inspire creative thinking around cars.
- Settlers abound in Catan Junior a wonderful trading game about claiming new lands. The praire settlers in Little House in the Big House by Laura Engles Wilder pair perfectly together.
- We adore Animalogic in this house! I’ve been playing for year, but Ed Emberly Drawing book of Animals is a new find for me.
- You can not pick a more perfect(ly gross) gift than Slamwich and Sam’s Sandwich by David Pelham. I’ve had both since I was little.
- 2 more classics go nicely together – Rat a Tat Cat and Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel.
- Ticket to Ride First Journey is a wonderful beginners strategy game and Locamotive by Brian Floca is a GORGEOUSLY illustrated tail any train-lover will adore.
- My son just received Sleeping Queens and we’ve been playing it every day. King Hugo’s huge Ego by Chris Van Dusen rounds out the pair – perfect for both boys and girls.
- Marjorie Sharmat’s Nate the Great is a wonderful introduction to spying and detective work – both skills will be needed for Operation Escape Room.
- Prepare for war in Stratego as you take your army against your opponent. The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins takes place underground and features a war between the humans and the gnawers.
- The Bourne-esque story about a 12 year old in Van Gogh Deception by Derin Hicks will appear to your child and they will use the same quick thinking skills in Spy Alley.
- Can you be the first to get out of the Labryinth? Maze Runner by James Dashner features the same story line and is a trilogy.
- You need all the strategy you can must in Gobblet where you need to be one step ahead of your opponent, just like Katniss in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- Exploding Kittens is the hottest game on the market for kids and adults!Continue the animal theme with Spirit Animals by Brandon Mull.
- You didn’t think we could post about book and game pairings without mentioning Harry Potter did you? Harry Potter Trivial Pursuit is perfect for any fans of the popular series by JK Rowling.
- Who doesn’t want to pretend they are an Olympic god? In Santorini live our the dream as you build up the great city and reach for Olympus! The Lightening Thief by Rick Riordan is the perfect companion.
- Calling all Disney fans! Code Name Disney is a harder game geared for older fans, just like Keepers of the Kingdom by Ridley Pearson which takes place in Disney after dark!
- Forbidden Island is a fantastic game where players work together to try to escape the island, a very similiar story line present in Castle of Water by Dan Huckelbridge. (PSST – Read the full book review here.)
- Everyone knows Albert Einstein was brilliant, but so was his wife. Her story, The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict, goes perfectly with Cranium.
- WARNING. The humor in both Cards Against Humanity and The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Shumer is for ages 18+
- 5 Different suits are in Five Crowns but there are only 2 war factions in Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard.
- Escape Room Murder Mystery wil have you thinking like Hercules Pioret from Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie.
- An epic and long strategy game, Catan is one of the best games out there. You need skills like Edward Dantes from The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas to win this game.
- Another strategy game, Ticket to Ride is all about the American railway system which any riders from Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline know all about.
- Unleash your inner actress with Heads Up and then dive into the life of an Elizabeth Taylor-esque starlet in The 7 Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
The last game we want to mention isn’t exactly a board and book pairing. OSMO is the hottest new education system on the market that combines education and hands-on games with technology. The WORDS program is perfect for kiddos learning to read and spell. My son loves the competitive game of spelling against an animal and there are options for me to upload and create my own spelling pages. Think adding a picture of a family member and your kid can learn to spell their name.
OSMO has other games that help with coding, physics, math skills and more. There are various kits with multiple games that can be pricy, but the base itself isn’t expensive and each game can be purchased separately. There is a crazy pizza game that would be perfect to pair with Secret Pizza Party by Adam Rubin and a monster drawing game that reminds me of Leonard the Terrible Monster by Mo Williams. I swear the coding game (Awbie) ‘s main character is Beekle from The Adventures of Beekle: An Unimaginary Friend by Dan Santat!