The Board Game Family

Reclaim your children from the screen

By: Ellie Dix


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Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 234 x 156mm
Pages : 208
ISBN : 9781785834332
Format: Paperback
Published: July 2019

In The Board Game Family: Reclaim your children from the screen, Ellie Dix offers a roadmap to integrating board gaming into family life and presents inspiring ways to engage even the trickiest of teenagers and manage game nights with flair.

Many parents feel as if they are competing with screens for their children’s attention. As their kids get older, they become more distant – leading parents to worry about the quality of the already limited time they share. They yearn for tech-free time in which to reconnect, but don’t know how to shift the balance.

In The Board Game Family, teacher and educationalist Ellie Dix aims to help fellow parents by inviting them and their families into the unplugged and irresistible world of board games. The benefits of board gaming are far-reaching: playing games develops interpersonal skills, boosts confidence, improves memory formation and cognitive ability, and refines problem-solving and decision-making skills.

With these rewards in mind, Ellie shares a wealth of top tips and stealthy strategies that parents can draw upon to unleash the potential of those dusty game boxes at the back of the cupboard and become teachers of outstanding gamesmanship – equipped to navigate the unfolding drama of competition, thwart the common causes of arguments and bind together a happier, more socially cohesive family unit.

The book contains useful tips on the practicalities of getting started and offers valuable guidance on how parents can build a consensus with their children around establishing a set of house rules that ensure fair play. Ellie also eloquently explains the ‘metagame’ and the key elements of gamification (the application of game-playing principles to everyday life), and describes how a healthy culture of competition and good gamesmanship can strengthen relationships.

Furthermore, Ellie draws upon her vast knowledge to talk readers through the different types of board games available – for example, time-bound or narrative-based games – so that they can identify those that they feel would best suit their family’s tastes. The book complements these insights with a comprehensive appendix of 100+ game descriptions, where each entry includes a brief overview of the game and provides key information about game length, player count and its mechanics.

Ideal for all parents of 8–18-year-olds who want to breathe new life into their family time.

Hear Ellie talk about her book below and visit Ellie’s You Tube channel to find out more about her work.

‘Fortunes, not Feuds: 7 essential tips for playing board games with family’

‘13 ways playing board games benefits your child’

The Parenting Show Episode 141

Ellie Dix is interviewed on ‘Motherhood Moment’

‘Why playing board games is so good for kids – and how to get them to join in’

Picture for author Ellie Dix

Ellie Dix

A teacher and educationalist, and former co-owner and director of Pivotal Education, Ellie Dix has been obsessed with board games from an early age. Ellie firmly believes that board games have positively influenced her ability to solve problems, manage failure and experiment with multiple paths to success ' and she now puts her teaching skills, understanding of behaviour and experience with gamification to use by helping parents to introduce board games to family life.

Hear Ellie talk about her book below and visit Ellie's You Tube channel to find out more about her work.

Fortunes, not Feuds: 7 essential tips for playing board games with family'

13 ways playing board games benefits your child'

The Parenting Show Episode 141

Click here to read Ellie Dix’s blog.


  1. -‹This book is all about, you guessed it, board games. It talks about how board games can bring a family together and different family tradition you can have with board games.

    The first few chapters are the positives about playing board games as a family - spending more time together, less screen time, etc. And how to start a board game collection.

    There are plenty of tips in the book on how to change the rules of the game to suit your family needs. For example, if you playing with young children or someone with learning disability. There are tips on how to make the games unique to your family. Like in my family, when playing Monopoly if we have to pay money we put it under the free parking, and who ever lands on that space gets to keep the money.

    There's advice on what to do if a member of your family doesn't want to play, or there is arguments or sore losers. There are lot's of little tips that I myself as quite a big board game player will be taking away and using. There is also a list of board game suggestions too.

    Overall, this book is great if you are thinking about starting a family board game night. I would recommend it to people with young kids and teens a like. You can also gain a lot from reading this book even if you don't have children.

    4/5 stars for me
  2. "The Board Game Family: Reclaim Your Children From The Screen is a fantastic 'how-to' for parents wanting to bring their kids back into the living room, away from their phones and back into family life together. Anyone who reads my blog will know that board games are a huge thing here, we play most weekends year round and usually everyone in the house joins in...

    As soon as I opened The Board Game Family I knew we were on the same wavelength. The writing style is chatty and full of sarcasm and witty quips. It's friendly, accessible and perfect for parents of today's teenagers.

    Ellie Dix starts by explaining why you need board games as part of your family life. The benefits of board gaming are massive. Playing games develops confidence, memory, co-ordination, logic skills, problem-solving and decision-making. It teaches you patience, tolerance and an understanding that everyone thinks differently. Ellie also explains how a healthy culture of competition and good gamesmanship can strengthen relationships.

    Gaming helps us reconnect with our children. It is quality relaxation time where you aren't all doing the same thing separately or silently, you are working together as a unit, chatting, laughing and socialising. I personally see it as very important time spent, and I know my 10 year old likes absolutely nothing better than playing a game together with his family

    The examples of games included in the book really caught my excitement. Ellie rates a good few of the games which we really like to play. Carcasonne is my 9 year old's favourite game and a lot of the really good independent games we've reviewed for Asmodee are mentioned in this book. 

    There is a great toolkit for getting started, even if you haven't been a game player yourself. Ellie suggests ways to bring games into your family's life, and which games will be a good starting point.

    The book covers ideas for setting the scene, fitting the mood and making games night a bit special without huge effort. We often have popcorn or tortilla chips and salsa when we play and will be in the mood for completely different games from one week to the next. It's rarely wise to have your heart set on playing something a week on Saturday because it may not suit once you get there.

    There are tips for when you have situations such as cheating or fights, and how to manage games night. If you realise your game will go on far longer than someone's tolerance for it, sort that out. There's no point playing on until you all hate it. Ellie even has suggestions for how to play a game with the wrong number of players, missing pieces or entire gaps in gameplay to guess.

    We're with Ellie on this too. We often adapt a game to play with the wrong number or have slightly different conditions for those aged 18+ v's the younger boys. If a rule is too complex or discriminates against a single player, we make a clearer rule or even different rules for different players - for us this often happens when colour is involved. Overall we have one really important gaming rule in our house "As long as all of the players agree, it's probably fine".

    At the back of the book is an extensive list of over 100 games, with number of players, expected time it'll take to play and a good description of style of game and gameplay. I've reviewed many, many of the games listed on this blog, and played several more. It's a great list which includes almost all of our family favourites. The first game listed is possibly my personal all-time favourite - 221b Baker Street.

    If that wasn't enough, included is a press out Dark Imp Dice and a scorecard for you to record your own family gaming victories. Ellie also suggests a couple of ways to acquire free games, and some games of her own.

    My family love board games and it has kept us together and strong through all our children have had to face in the last 6 years. It is a light-hearted, fun way to involve everyone, build relationships and check up on how everyone is doing. We still have our 25 year old over to play games and I've even used photos of my daughter's boyfriend playing in blog review posts. Getting conversation out of my 21 year old can be like pulling teeth, but he'll play just about any game with you all evening long.

    The Board Game Family is a great book and reading it I just wanted to play games! It really gives any reader the confidence to go for it, and adapt rules, winning conditions or set time limits whenever it suits the players. It's a brilliant springboard for parents wanting to reclaim their relationship with their pre-teen, teenage and young adult children."

    Click here to read the review on
  3. "It can often seem that individual members of the family are physically all in one place, but individually, they are all playing their own separate electronic/single payer games. This refreshing book aims to redress that balance and as it says 'to brush off the dust' and rediscover the joy of board games payed as a family or group. In The Board Game Family, teacher and educationalist Ellie Dix aims to help fellow parents by inviting them and their families into the unplugged and irresistible world of board games. The benefits of board gaming are far-reaching: playing games develops interpersonal skills, boosts confidence, memory formation and cognitive ability, and refines problem-solving and decision-making skills. With these rewards in mind, Ellie shares a wealth of top tips and stealthy strategies that parents can draw upon to unleash the potential of those dusty game boxes at the back of the cupboard and become teachers of outstanding gamesmanship equipped to navigate the unfolding drama of competition, thwart the common causes of arguments and bind together a happier, more socially cohesive family."

    Click here to read the review on
  4. -‹“This week's #ReadItTorial is partly book inspired, after all it was Ellie Dix-˜s fantastic “The Board Game Family: Reclaim your children from the Screen” that set our cogs whirring this week (check out her Dark Imp blog via that link).

    With C away at Guide Camp for an entire week, I had a good chance to thoroughly digest and absorb Ellie's book, reinforcing something that we've already known as a family for a very long time.

    Board games are blimmin' awesome, and they've come a long way since the ones you probably remember playing on wet rainy afternoons while stuck on a caravan holiday as a kid.

    Back then I remember the almost religious experience of digging out hoary old games like Operation (“There goes his funny bone!”) or Mouse Trap (did anyone ever, in the entire history of humanity, ever get their mousetrap contraption to work first time? No, us neither!) or more action-orientated games like the mighty Kerplunk or a really obscure one for you 70s kids, “Tip-It” - a strange balancing game involving a poor circus performer balancing on his nose.

    Board games are now a serious moneyspinner for a lot of startups and gaming companies. You see it's catching on, this idea that there are real and actual ways to get a family sitting round a table and having a conversation, having fun and most importantly interacting with each other.

    Playing a strategic or hilarious game does more to help a family bond with each other than any electronic or videogame-based equivalent (though I do know plenty of folk who commonly bond over videogames too, good for them I say!)

    Like a lot of parents, we are rapidly approaching that hideous eventuality - their kid getting their first mobile phone and become an uncommunicative hunch-shouldered screen-staring zombie.

    We've had many conversations about what we hapless parents can do about it - ranging from the horrible notion that we'd have to become foul draconian monsters, limiting phone / screen time severely, ensuring phones aren't allowed in her bedroom, disabling the wi fi, all the usual stuff you see well-meaning child care experts blathering on about.

    Or perhaps, just perhaps, we can head this eventuality off at the pass with the use of board games, as Ellie suggests.

    A lot of her advice is sound and really brilliantly structured into chapters that show the positive effects and scope of including board gaming in you life.

    It's fair to say that some of it really wouldn't work for us as a family, and other bits just sound too idealistic to be realistically applicable to anyone but the smallest number of folk (still more bits in the book make Ellie sound like at home, it's definitely her way or the highway!)

    But overall the idea is intriguing, enticing and could very well be one method of avoiding that hateful eventuality.

    Give kids something else that's more interesting, more engaging and (hopefully) stimulating than whatever their friends are getting up to on Instagram, Twitter or other social media bits and bobs - and they'll leave their phone in another room. In Ellie's case she's talking about board games but there are plenty of other activities that would work too (ever sat down with your kids and drawn / coloured / made books / comics, for example?)

    There's also the chance for kids to get one over on their elders if they win. Ellie's very clear about her own in-house rules. All participants in games play to win, and that does sometimes mean that in certain games the kids miss out. But it's something else that's worth learning - being a graceful sporting loser as well as a humble sporting winner. That's a life lesson we could all do with a reminder of as it's seldom covered elsewhere.

    We already love board games, though the cost can sometimes be prohibitive (it is definitely not a cheap hobby to get into, with some popular games ranging from between '£20-50 quid a throw - about the same you'd pay for most modern console videogames, though arguably board games could long outlast those, lifespan and attention-grabbing wise). Ultimately though it feels like it'd be a worthy investment, and definitely preferable to what usually happens after we've all got home, had a meal and settled down for the evening or at weekends.

    I think Ellie really does put forward some really positive points in her book, maybe there is a better way - and maybe at ReadItDaddy Towers we should pour everything into making it work before the inevitable screen zombification kicks in. I mean who wouldn't fancy sitting down to an evening of “Exploding Kittens”, “Munchkins” or “Pandemic” rather than an evening looking at the silent glow of a mobile screen filled with some worthless mumbo jumbo.

    (Ellie's book “The Board Game Family” is out now, published by Crown House Publishing).”

    Click here to read the review on ReadItDaddy blog.
  5. Ellie Dix leaves no stone unturned in The Board Game Family; she gives in-depth explanations about the pros and cons of board games (both of specific games and in general). She discusses the potential problems that may arise and details the possible solutions.

    Her chatty, engaging style is sure to encourage parents to experiment with her recommendations - especially those parents who are struggling with monosyllabic teens who think that playing board games is terminally uncool.

    As a parenting consultant, I frequently advise my clients to play board games, card games and pencil and paper games as a family. From now on, I will also recommend that they read this book.
  6. I love this book! Every parent should own a copy of The Board Game Family - not only to ensure that they don't get caught up in a digital device-smashing moment, but also to help their children be less digitally inclined.

    It is an incredibly practical resource, providing an in-depth analysis of various board games, party games and card games, as well as an exploration of the pitfalls to avoid and the benefits derived from board gaming.
    If you want to bring more joy and connectivity into your family, and save your children from obsessing with their online world, Ellie Dix's The Board Game Family is essential reading.
  7. Written with humour and real-life experience, The Board Game Family is packed full of great ideas and is bursting with practical suggestions around playing games with kids of all ages. Obviously a board game fan, Ellie enthuses you with her knowledge about the benefits of playing board games and empowers you to reclaim your children from their screens and create fun memories with them that will last a lifetime.

    The Board Game Family will help you make board gaming, whether it be in the form of quick 20-minute fillers or full-on gaming marathons, a natural and easy part of your family life.
  8. The Board Game Family shares lots of real-world tips on how parents can tear their teens away from tech and enjoy quality family time.

    If all you get from your kids is a grunt before they disappear to their rooms, this book is full of ideas to get you all talking, laughing and playing together again.

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