The first board games I ever owned was Rat-a-tat Cat and Sleeping Queens, my aunt gave them to me for Christmas when I was five years old. It was a wonderful gift as they were games I could play with both my older and younger sister. They became a main stay of every summer holiday for the following few years.
Rat-a-tat Cat is a simple risk vs reward bluffing game where players try to get the lowest score. Lower numbered cards have cats on them (the zero is the Cat-ue of Liberty) as the higher numbered cards have Rats on them (the nine is the rat king). The Game play is quite simple; each player has four faced down cards in front of them, they know what two of them are. Players then take turns picking up cards and electing whether they will exchange their new card with one of the ones already in front of them, which can be quite risky when you don’t know the value of the card your about to trade it with. Sometimes you get lucky and you will draw a card with a special effect, these let you do things like peek at your mystery cards or swap cards with an opponent.
Sleeping Queens is a game shockingly about waking up sleeping queens. To wake up the sleeping queens you must play a king, of course! But be weary there are knights to steal away your queens and dragons to stop them. There are also sleeping potions to send your queens back to sleep as well as magic wands to defend against them. The cards that aren't as exciting are number cards, you want to get rid of as many as you can as quick as possible to make way for kings and knights. To get rid of number cards you can play matching numbers or you can make small equations. If I have a two, a three and a five, I can say two plus three equals five to play all three.
Sushi Go is a newer card game made by Gamewright (the same publisher as the previous two). Sushi Go plays like being at a sushi train restaurant, every player starts with ten cards, they choose one to keep, the rest are passed to the left and the person on your right gives you their remaining cards, this happens ten times. Some sushi are worth a few flat points as others will be worth nothing if you only have one but many points if you have three of the same. The goal is to simply score the most points.
All three of these games are around $20 and are excellent for children from 6 to 12, while still being an engaging and fun time for adults.