Gettting Ready to Play
When choosing a game to play as a family, take into consideration the age ranges of the players. If you have very young children playing with older children or adults, consider creating teams or combining Junior versions with regular versions of games. Junior versions are available for many popular games including Trivial Pursuit and Apples to Apples and provide questions that are more appropriate for the younger players. Adults and those capable of doing so could answer questions from the regular version, while young elementary schoolers, or even younger preschoolers, could be asked questions from the Junior version. Teaming up one parent with each child, or an older sibling with a younger child may also level the playing field while making everyone feel included.
Games to Consider
Yahtzee: Since this really is a game of chance, younger children still have a legitimate shot at winning, making it more fun. Although there are Junior versions available, even young elementary schoolers can usually manage the regular version with some modifications. For kids too young to understand the lower half of the scoring sheet (Full House, Chance, Large Straight), consider doubling the top half and having each player find the most 1's, through 6's two times and then adding up the scores. For older children, be sure to let them add their scores on their own, this makes the game not only fun but also educational-an added bonus.
Apples to Apples: This game is more fun with a larger group (four or more players are recommended) and has several versions that can be used simultaneously. The Apples to Apples Jr. version, Disney version, and 7 Plus version are played the same way but have cards that are more age appropriate for their designated age group. If you don't have the game yet, or don't have more than one version, consider getting the one aimed at the youngest players. Game play with the Junior version can be more easily modified for adults than the other way around, as most children will not know many of the references on the adult version cards.
Scrabble (or Bananagrams): Played the usual way it is unlikely that a child will beat an adult, however, if you make each letter worth 1 point, or allow an older child to use a dictionary, the game can be fun. This won't work for the youngest players, but I started playing with my children in third grade and the goal is for them to beat their score from the last time (which we keep a record of) rather than beating me. It's still fun, and they know they're getting better. Bananagrams is really Scrabble without the board, but it does come in a neat banana package that makes clean up (and taking the game with you) a cinch.