Interview with Dad Suggests
While Dad Suggests is more broadly focused than just board games, Ryan shares some great board game content geared towards younger gamers. He also has some great content about kids books and parenting, and just seems like a stellar dude the more I interact with him!
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Tell us about your blog?
I started DadSuggests.com as a way to share with others the things that my family loves – particularly family board games and picture books. But I don’t see it as a review site – mostly because I only recommend and write about the things we love. I look at it as a blog about parenting and raising happy kids.
My wife and I have two kids – a 6-year-old boy and a 3-year-old girl. I’m inspired to write about the things we’ve enjoyed together, and I often reflect on my role as a dad as well. There are certain topics that come up again and again – things like empathy, imagination, creativity, and self-confidence. If I had to sum up our mission very concisely – it would be spreading the message of reading to your kids and playing with your kids.
How did you get started in the board game hobby?
I had a pretty standard, modest board game collection growing up. And we spent a very modest amount of our time on them as well. But I have very vivid and fond memories of playing board games as a child. One of my earliest memories is playing Hi Ho Cherry-O with my dad, and one of my favorite summers included playing Hero Quest with my dad, my brother, and a neighborhood friend. I can vividly picture the random houses and the very rooms where I played Mouse Trap and Guess Who?. And when I took down the tubs of my old board games from my parents’ attic the feelings of nostalgia came rushing back. That’s when I really knew how big of a lasting impact playing games with your kids can have – and that’s why I’m trying to help them build some awesome memories.
What board games are you enjoying right now?
My wife and I are crazy about Spirits of the Wild. We have probably played that game more than any other game at this point. We’re very big fans of Azul as well. Lately our 3-year-old loves picking out Pick Me Up, Piggy! (we’ve always been huge Peaceable Kingdom fans and have some favorite cooperative board games for 3 year olds) and Sleeping Queens. She’s actually a big fan of card games. And our 6-year-old son was blown away by Untold: Adventures Await recently. It’s a game that uses Rory’s Story Cubes to help you tell stories and it’s a blast. He’s a creative guy and he is hooked on writing those stories together.
What is your favorite family board game of all time?
13 Dead End Drive – the classic game with working booby traps where you’re trying to be the last one standing and inherit the fortune. When I took down my old board games from my parents’ attic – 13 Dead End Drive was far and away the game I was most excited to see. I have very fond memories of this game and lots of nostalgia. And it really holds up too. I still love playing it with the kids. It was actually reprinted recently so thankfully families everywhere can still discover it for themselves.
What board games are your favorite right now when you have an adult game night?
Like I mentioned before, if my wife and I are playing without the kids, we really like Spirits of the Wild a lot. We also like to battle each other in Kingdomino and Blokus Duo. Of course these are games we can play with the kids as well, but our collection is almost entirely comprised of family games. If we were going to bring a game to a friend’s house right now it would probably be Codenames, Azul, or a classic like Ticket to Ride. Those are always big hits.
What got you into blogging in the first place? What keeps you around?
I started writing about the books and games that we love because I wanted to help other parents find really high-quality stuff to enjoy with their kids. Just as an example, my son and I really like scary stories. And I realized how tricky it was to find suggestions for picture books that were legitimately scary but still for kids.
Over time I’ve come to find out how much I enjoy reminding others that we have a really amazing opportunity as parents. I like to say that I have a noble duty to provide a magical childhood for our kids. That’s a big part of what keeps me going. I may be writing about family games and kids books – but in my head I’m often reflecting on making kids happy and other important pieces of the meaning of life. (You can see why I LOVE his parenting articles, check out the importance of reading and playing with your kids)
If money and time were not an obstacle, what would you be doing right now?
I really enjoy traveling a lot. If I could be doing anything, I would choose discovering new places around the world with the family every single time. We’d also like to get an RV and travel the country together. If money and time were not an obstacle, my best guess is that we’d pack up lots of board games and books and spend quite a bit of time relaxing in a forest or near an ocean.
What is something that people would find surprising about you?
Some people might find it surprising that I’m a licensed public school teacher who teaches chess to kids all day long (don’t miss his article on the benefits of teaching Chess to Kids!). Chess is my entire job at school and I love it. There are a lot of wonderful life lessons that the game can teach kids – like the importance of thinking before you act and how to handle defeat. And it’s fantastic for firing up the frontal lobe and strengthening executive functions as well.
Before you go…
Don’t miss Ryan on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. If you’re looking for some more great kids board game blogs, I’m doing interviews with all of my favorites, subscribe below so you don’t miss them…you can find links to the published and upcoming interviews.