Dixit is a story-telling game. Dixit. Latin for "said" or "tell". We love this game (and it won Spiel des Jahres last year). No reading skills are required.
It comes with beautiful cards that serve as the basis for the story. When it's your turn, you come up with a story (can be one word, a line from a poem, a song, etc.) for one of your cards (only seen by you) that is not too obvious that everyone gets it (which means you get no points) or so cryptic that nobody gets it (which means you get no points). From your story, the other players will choose a card from their hand that fits and hand it to you face down. You shuffle the the cards, lay them face up in front of you and everyone votes for the card they think is yours.
Bananagrams. My husband picked up this game in a toy shop - and it is awesome. All you get are letter tiles, like the ones in Scrabble, but without the points. These are dumped on the ground, everyone takes a set amount and then simultaneously starts to build cross-word puzzles! Novice readers may require some benevolent adult assistant (no competitive sabotage allowed). We found that our newly-spelling son came up with some pretty excellent word ideas based on his understanding of sounds/symbols and how they interact.
There are different ways to play the game and you can vary the competitive edge to suit the personalities and skills of your family members.
Quiddler. If you know the fabulous game SET, you may be pleased to learn that the same company has created a game about words.
"The challenge of Quiddler is to arrange your entire hand into everyday words. In this fast-paced game, draw and discard in turn. Try to use those high point letters, but don't get caught with them uncombined. A bonus is given for the most words in each round (so little words can help you win), as well as for the longest word. Quiddler is a delightful challenge for both rookies and word game lovers. For up to 8 players."
Keesdrow and Keesdrow Deluxe. Keesdrow is a word search game for ages 8 to adult. "Keesdrow Deluxe (“word seek” spelled backwards) is the Ultimate Word Seek Game! Players at all skill levels will enjoy finding words within the maze of letters. Unlike other word games, all players have access at all times to the entire game board and to all letters on the board. You will be sure to take advantage of each other’s moves, building on previously used letters to score extra points." Keesdrow has won numerous awards.
Apples to Apples. This game has different versions so you can find the one best suited to your family's present needs. We have Apples to Apples Jr. for ages 9+. The regular version has content that is for mid-teens and older. From an Amazon.com review: "The name of the game is a play on the phrase "apples to oranges," and the game is about making comparisons between different things. General game play is as follows: players are dealt red cards which have a noun printed on them, and the judge (a different player in each turn) draws a green card on which an adjective is printed and places it for all players to see. Each player then chooses a red card they are holding that they think best describes the green card. The judge then decides which adjective she likes best."
In a Pickle by Gamewright is a great game for confidently reading kids, no matter their age (although the product description is for 10+). "Can a giraffe fit in a phone booth? Does a sofa fit in a shopping cart? It all depends on how you size it up in this game of creative thinking and outrageous scenarios. Try to win a set of cards by fitting smaller things into bigger things -- There's some juice in a pickle, in a supermarket, in a parking lot. Play the fourth word card to claim the set, unless one of your opponents can trump with a larger word. The player with the most sets at the end is the BIG winner!"
As I'm looking for images for these games, I can see that there are so many many word games on the market. Buzzword, Last Word, Blurt, Say Anything, Likewise!, Catch Phrase, Lexogon... oh my! So many choices... so hard to know what to choose.
The games above are ones that our family has in our collection and that we've enjoyed for several years. If you have any tried and true favourite word-related games in your house, please recommend them in the comments - we'd all appreciate it.