board games for bored kids

Summer is in full swing. At the North Plains Public Library this means that our 12 computers are being used during the day even more than during the rest of the year. The other day there was quite a wait for access and we had a building full of young people. Nice!

I spent some time chatting with the various groups but the whole time I was wishing I had some board games (other than Scrabble) that I could bring out to engage them while they waited. I learned a bit about so called German or European board games at Computers in Libraries in April, but I also have a serious board gamer on staff. When I mentioned the idea of us getting some games for times when there’s an opportunity to engage people with content I could tell he was into it. In response he emailed me a list of potential games. I asked Adam if it was okay and I’m sharing the list here.

Games for all ages and skills:

  • *Lost Cities: set collecting card game, 2 player, 30 minutes to play
  • *Blokus: abstract strategy game, 1-4, best with 4 players, 20 minute game
  • For Sale: auction card game, 3-6 players, 20 minute game
  • Hey! That’s My Fish: abstract strategy, 2-4 player, best w/ three, 20 minutes
  • Coloretto: set collection card game, 2-5, best w/ four players, 30 minutes
  • Gulo Gulo: action/dexterity childrens game, 2-6, best w/ three players, 20 minutes

Older kids games (short):

  • *Hive: abstract strategy, 2 player, 20 minutes
  • Mr Jack: deduction game, 2 player, 30 minutes
  • *Wings of War – Famous Aces: WW1 simulation card game, 2-4, best with four players, 30 minutes

Older kids games (longer, more involved):

  • *Ticket to Ride: transportation hand management game, 2-5, best with 4 players, 45 minutes
  • Pandemic: co-operative play environmental game, 2-4, best with 4 players, 45 minutes
  • *Samurai: tile placement, area control game, 2-4, best with 2 players, 45 minutes
  • Ingenious: abstract strategy, tile placement game, 1-4, best with 2 players, 45 minutes
  • Through the Desert: abstract strategy, tile placement game, 2-5, best with 3 players, 45 minutes

He continues:

I tried to pick games that were easy to learn, short, and didn’t have a lot of pieces to lose. I’ve only played about half of these games and I starred those. You can lookup any of these games and get tons of info on them at – That’s where I’m getting my info. As you can see I’m a board game geek. Maybe some of these suggestions will peak your own interest to play…I own “Samurai” and “Ticket to Ride” if you’re interested some time.

You bet I am. Maybe our at next staff meeting we’ll just play “Ticket to Ride!”

Bonus links
Just in case you haven’t seen them yet, these posts from Library Gamer discuss AASL standards and board games:

11 thoughts on “board games for bored kids”

  1. One of my coworkers brought in a chess set which has large pieces and a canvas gameboard & donated it to the childrens department, where it sits on a tabletop at all times. I see kids, teens & even some adults (who are playing against young members of their families) playing there every day.

  2. Don’t forget Fluxx! It takes a game or two to get the hang of it, but it can be played relatively quickly, it’s very portable, and it’s hella fun. I think it would be great in a library, and Eco Fluxx adds a theme for play.

  3. As a kid my favorite games were Stratego and Risk. As I grew older Settlers of Cataan became a fave.

    Of course none could compare to the Incredible Hulk game. You built a little lab and then every now and then someone would wind up the Hulk doll in the middle of the board and then it would go smashing off into someone’s lab.

    But the best thing about board games is they take up zero bandwidth :)

  4. This is a great idea. All the games you mention here are great games that make people think and educate the younger crowd.

    I have actively been trying to introduce these games into the North Orlando Area libraries with little success.

    If you are looking for a retailer who can assist you with the venture of getting these games into your library, contact us and lets see what we can come up with.

    Barry Nadler

  5. I brought a bunch of board games over to my old library for afternoons like those you describe. They were generally a hit, although I must admit they weren’t particularly educational games, just fun ones.

  6. Blokus and Lost Cities are exceptional choices – quick to learn and quick to play. The only downside to Lost Cities is if you lose a card, your game is shot. Fjords is another 2 player game to consider as it is quick and super easy to master and yet every time we play it produces different results.

    Ticket to Ride is one of my all-time favorite board games, but it is not quick to learn (it’s pretty complex actually) and has a LOT of pieces and we’ve already discovered the pain of losing a piece or two. 45 minutes is a good estimate if all players are familiar with the game, but we’ve taught it to many people and found the average 4-5 player game with 2-3 people who are new to the game takes more like 90 minutes. It is a great game none-the-less.

    My recommendation: Connect 4. I’ve played countless games and it is still my favorite.

  7. i thought LOST CITIES & HEY! THATS MY FISH was extraordinary it was fantastic


    but me parents were abs… happy!!!!!!!!!

    THANK YA’LL!!!!!!!!!

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