How Playing Games Can Help Improve Reading

Dr. Kimberly Swedberg

4/24/202410 min read

I grew up playing games with my family. We played all types of games. Board games, card games, word games, travel games…you name it, we played it.

I clearly remember one night when there were bad storms outside. The power went go out and we sat around a table with a lit candle in the middle and played trivia games.

My dad was brilliant with trivia. He read all the time and seemed to know a lot of little facts about a lot of subjects.

My siblings and I learned a lot from playing games.

When we played games, we learned new words and what they meant. We got better at math and practiced drawing and being creative. We learned to take turns and to work together as a team. And we had a lot of fun! I'll share a little secret with you... learning can be really fun!!!

So, to keep the fun and learning going, I've made a list of games that are all about words and letters. Try them out and see how much you can learn!


Hangman: This is a classic word guessing game where you and a friend try to figure out each other's secret word first. Instead of using paper and pencil, this game comes with special pieces that you can use over and over again. Try to guess the word before your friend does so you win the game!

For 2 players; ages 6 and older


Hangman: This is a fun word game where you think of a word and try to make it tricky for your friend to guess, or you guess the word your friend thinks of to win the game! It comes with a special game board that you can write on and erase, a marker, and an eraser, all of which fit right into the board so nothing gets lost. It's perfect to take with you on trips! The Melissa & Doug Flip-to-Win Hangman Travel Game is great for playing with friends, helps you get better at spelling, and is good for practicing how to use your hands carefully.

For ages 6 to

Word Search Puzzles

Word Search: Dive into 101 fun puzzles to keep your brain sharp and have a great time! You'll search for over 3000 cool words in these puzzles. There's something for everyone with lots of different topics like music from the 50s, astronauts from the U.S., things from Hawaii, different kinds of candy, car parts, hairstyles, and more. Finding new words you don't know yet can help you learn new things and remember better. Words you already know can help you make connections and improve your memory. Enjoy and explore all these puzzles!

Board Games

TOMY Articulate Family Board Game, U.S. Version

TOMY Articulate: This is a super fun guessing game that you can play at parties or family game nights. In the game, you have to quickly describe words on a card to your teammates in 30 seconds, but you can't use rhyming words to help them guess. It might sound easy, but it's quite a challenge! The game isn't just about being fast; you also move around the game board, trying to be the first team to reach the end. There are different categories to describe and special rounds where everyone gets to play at the same time. The first team to make it around the board wins, but the game is so funny and exciting that everyone will want to play again. It's a loud, fun, and hilarious game that everyone will enjoy!

For 4-20 players; 12 years and older


Scrabble: In this game, you use letters to make words on a board, like building a puzzle. Each letter has points, and you add them up to see who wins. You can get even more points if you place your letters on special squares that double or triple your score. Sometimes, getting the right letters can help you win the game. It's a fun way to challenge your friends and family to see who can make the best words. It’s all about whose word is the strongest! Scrabble is a game made by Hasbro.

For 2-4 players; 8 years and older

Scrabble Junior

Scrabble Junior: This is a super fun word game just for kids! You get to match little letter tiles to words on a colorful board. As you match the words, you move your game piece up a track to keep score. Whoever has the most points when all the tiles are used wins the game! And don't worry, if you get really good at it, you can flip the board over to play a harder version where you make up your own words. Scrabble Junior is a lot of letter-matching fun for everyone!

For ages 5 years and older


Pictionary: This is a super fun drawing game where you see who can draw well and who makes funny doodles! Everyone tries to guess what you're drawing, and sometimes the guesses are as funny as the pictures! This special version of the game has cool pens and an extra category with 400 fun clues to draw. You have one minute to draw something on the card, like an animal, a person, or an action, and your team has to guess what it is. If they can't guess, you can try drawing something different. Everyone gets a turn to draw, so you can all show off your art skills! The game includes markers that you can erase and boards to draw on, with fun clue categories like "Pop Culture." Pictionary has been a favorite party game since 1985 and is perfect for game night!

For players 8 years and older.


Boggle: In this game, you make words from lettered dice to get points. You score by finding words that your friends don't see before the time stops. First, shake the grid to mix up the letters. Then, open the lid, start the timer, and you have 90 seconds to write down as many words as you can see in the grid. When time's up, check your words. If more than one person writes down the same word, it doesn't count. The person with the most points wins! The game has a special case that makes it easy to store and take with you. You can even play by yourself and try to beat your best score!

For 1 or more players; 8 years and older

ThinkFun Zingo Word Builder Early Reading Game

Zingo Word Builder: This is a super fun game from ThinkFun that lots of kids love! It's perfect for kids aged 4 and older to help them get ready to read by playing with words. The game is made with really good materials, and it has easy-to-follow instructions so you can start playing right away when you open the box. Zingo Word Builder is not just fun, it also helps you think better and learn new words while you play a quick and exciting game.

For ages 4-15 years


Balderdash: This is a game where you get to use your smarts and creativity. Everyone gets a strange word, and you have to write down what you think it means. Then, everyone's ideas are read out loud and you all guess which one is the real meaning. You get points if you guess the right definition, but you can also get points if other people think your made-up definition sounds true!

For 2 or more players; ages 12 years and older


Upwords: This is a cool game where you can change words like "dog" into "log" just by stacking letters! You put tiles on the board to make new words or even stack tiles on old ones to change them. When it's your turn, you can spin the board around so it faces you to place your letters easily. You get points for each word you make. If you stack tiles on top of each other, you get even more points. If you make two or more words in one turn, you score extra points! You can also play by yourself to get even better at making words. How high can you stack your words and score?

For 1 to 4 players; ages 8 years and older


Bananagrams: This is a super fun word game that you can play anywhere, and it's shaped like a banana! In Bananagrams, you don't need a pencil, paper, or a board. Everyone tries to use their letters to make a crossword puzzle faster than anyone else. The first one to use all their letters wins. The game comes in a cute banana-shaped pouch, so it's easy to take with you on trips.

For 1 to 8 players; ages 7 years and older


Scattergories: Get ready to think quickly! In this speedy and fun game, you and your team need to think of things that fit into a special category. Can you list clothes, things you can fold, or beach items that start with the letter S? You earn points for each unique answer you think of that no one else does. But hurry, you only have a few seconds to think of them! The more unusual your answers are, the more points you get!

Ages 13 and older

Catch Phrase

Catch Phrase: Play this fun game where you grab, guess, and pass it quickly! Catch Phrase is an electronic game with lots of words and phrases for you and your friends or family to guess. You have to make your team guess what word or phrase shows up on the screen by describing it any way you can, and you have to be quick! There are different categories like Fun and Games, Entertainment, Everyday Life, Variety, and The World to choose from. Be careful not to be holding the game unit when the buzzer sounds, or the other team gets a point. The first team to get 7 points wins. You'll need 3 AAA batteries to play.

For 4 or more players; ages 12 and older


Taboo: Taboo is a super fun guessing game where you try to get your teammates to guess words without using the most obvious clues. For example, can you make someone say "Pinball" without using words like Arcade, Game, Flippers, Tilt, or Roll? It’s harder than it sounds! You have to be quick and clever with your words because you're racing against a timer. If you say one of the words you're not supposed to, the squeaker goes off and you lose that point. You can also throw a special die to change the game rules, like having only one person guess instead of everyone. There are four other ways the die can change the game, so you have to think fast and take some chances—but watch out for the squeaker!

For 2 or more players; ages 13 and older

I Spy

I Spy: This game uses pretty pictures and fun rhymes to make puzzles that both kids and grown-ups love to solve. I Spy games and puzzles come in different types and they all help you think better and have fun at the same time. In the I Spy Memory Game, if you're just starting out, you look for two things that match. If you're ready for a bigger challenge, you try to solve the riddles to find the pairs.

For 1 to 6 players; ages 4 and older


Wordplay: If you like word games, you're going to enjoy Wordplay! It's a quick and fun game that's easy to start playing, and everyone gets to play every time. There's a spinner that picks the letters and the category for each round. For example, if you need to think of 'Food & Drink' that starts with 'S' and has a 'D' in it, you might think of 'Salad,' 'Sandwich,' or 'Soda.' What if you need to name 'Places' starting with 'B' that have an 'N'? Maybe 'Boston,' 'Berlin,' or 'Birmingham.' If you get stuck, don’t worry! You can still score points by thinking of any word like 'Banjo,' 'Banana,' or 'Band.' The more points you get, the further you move on the game board. Each round is a new puzzle to solve, and there are tons of different letter and category combinations to think about. Wordplay is super fun and keeps your brain busy!

Ages 13 and older

Find It

Find It: The "Original Version" of Find It is a fun game where you look for over 40 hidden items mixed in with natural-colored tiny beads. The ends of the container are a pretty forest green. This version has small items that are better suited for teens and adults. It’s a nice game to keep on a coffee table, in an office, or in a waiting room because it looks good and is fun to play. You'll be searching for things like a wing nut, a popcorn kernel, a light bulb, a bell, a staple, and a hard-to-find penny. There are many different versions of this game available, too!

For ages 6 and older

Word Puzzles

Crossword Puzzles

Crossword Puzzles: Have fun and challenge your brain with 100 puzzles! These puzzles are just right for a mix of thinking hard and relaxing. They help make your brain sharper, exercise your thinking, and help you relax without making your eyes tired. Whether you're new to crosswords or already good at them, these puzzles will keep your brain busy and help you remember words better while you have fun. Each puzzle is based on a special theme, and they're all easy to read and will keep you interested for hours!