Playing with Words

By Carol Hinz
Editorial Director, Millbrook Press

For me the holidays are about spending time with family, and—if I’m lucky—playing a few good games. While I like all kinds of board games, I’m particularly drawn to those that have to do with words and wordplay. I suspect that other editors, writers, and book-lovers in general would all enjoy at least a few of the games on this list.Scrabble tilesBalderdash: This game involves inventing definitions for real English words. You get points if an opposing player thinks your definition is correct!

Bananagrams: This game comes in a banana-shaped pouch that contains little square tiles with letters on them—similar to Scrabble titles but without a number value. There are several variations for how to play, but in essence, you start with a bunch of tiles and have to make your own interconnected set of words from those tiles. The goal is to use all of your tiles. Playing a single game is quick (though I can never play just one), and it can accommodate a wide range of players and ages.

Password: Some of my favorite memories of sixth grade involve a version of this game. One player picks a card with a “password” and must try to get others to guess the word.

Scattergories: Roll a die to choose a letter. Then you and the other players must come up with words starting with that letter that fit into a list of categories (i.c. a car part). If you and another player choose the same word, neither of you gets any points for it, so creativity helps!

Scrabble: Each player gets seven letters. Players must spell out words on the game board, building on the words other players have made and trying to score as many points as possible. You might think an editor would have an advantage in this game, but I can assure you this editor has no advantage. I like to come up with fun or clever words (e.g. uncouth) rather than going for the most points, and that causes me to lose every time!

Taboo: Similar to Password, but along with the word other players have to guess, there is a list of words that you can’t say. (So, for example, if the word was pumpkin, you might not be able to say orange, pie, Halloween, or carve.) One of my all-time favorites!

photo credit: (cc) / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

One thought on “Playing with Words

  1. Anonymous

    I played Bananagrams for the first time this Christmas! It is very similar to a game I grew up playing called Tuf-A-Bet. Oh, and Catchphrase is another good one in the vein of Taboo.

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