Book Review: A Kid’s Guide to Tabletop RPGs by Gabe Hicks

A Kid’s Guide to Tabletop RPGs is just that!  It’s a wonderfully written book that’s made FOR kids to get a solid and understandable introduction to TTRPGs or discover new approaches to their existing TTRPG sessions. 

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What is A Kid’s Guide to Tabletop RPGs

A Kid’s Guide to Tabletop RPGs by Gabe Hicks is a 131 page book that’s made for kids to learn about tabletop RPGs and/or improve their game skills.  

It includes a combination of discussion-like text that is aimed at youth readers, personal experience accounts, informational graphics (like decision trees and map grid examples), interviews, illustrations, and fill-in question pages to keep the read interesting and engaging.  Readers can learn in multiple ways (through reading, visually, and interactively), and material is presented in an approachable and fun format. 

This book covers everything from learning what a tabletop RPG is, getting the basics about D&D and seeing what other TTRPGs are out there, setting up safety tools, related game hobbies (like mini painting), and so much more. 

Who would A Kid’s Guide to Tabletop RPGs be great for?

A Kid’s Guide to Tabletop RPGs is appropriate for any age, but I think it would be great for youth who can read independently because it is a guide for kids to be able to take the initiative and learn on their own.  

I read most of the book out loud to my kid (5 years old), and I was comfortable with sharing all the material with him, and he was interested in it too.  However, like I said, it is very intended to be a guide for kids to take the reins, so I would recommend it for kids who can read on their own or to youth who can read to each other so that they have that autonomy in teaching themselves.

I also believe that this can be a great guide for grownups who want to facilitate a game with kids because it’s easier to get into the headspace of your players and what they’re looking for in a game when you’re reading a book aimed at them.  

How A Kid’s Guide to Tabletop RPGs is made FOR kids 

A Kid’s Guide to Tabletop RPGs is written with language that kids can understand but also definitely does NOT talk down to them.  It breaks down the basics, but always respects the reader’s intelligence and empathizes with them when talking about personal experience.  

This is REALLY important in books for kids – it ends up being a conversation where they feel empowered by the material versus feeling like they’re being lectured at. 

The book is also broken up into manageable chunks with lots of activities in between so readers can easily take breaks where needed and learn through more than just reading.  There’s a section about creating your setting that includes roll tables and a designated area to write your results down (so readers don’t just skip over), there’s a worksheet with tons of questions to help you with creating a unique dragon to include in your game, and more.  It gives opportunities to learn by doing and playing with it a bit, which is what kids need!

A Kid’s Guide to Tabletop RPGs also includes a lot more illustrations than most how-to books, and every game table illustration features kids.  They’re a way to remember certain sections more clearly, get a feel for what’s being described, and for kids to see themselves, in a sense, playing the game.  

Other awesome features in A Kid’s Guide to Tabletop RPGs 

Aside from some of the more kid-focused elements in A Kid’s Guide to Tabletop RPGs, there are also many other generally amazing parts to this book.

Flowcharts and indie TTRPGs

First, many TTRPG guides will focus on one particular system, but this book encourages looking at multiple systems before choosing one.  There is a whole section about “Picking a Game” that includes a pretty amazing set of flowcharts for choosing a TTRPG based on your group’s interests and recommends different games to try out if you like superheroes and anime or where to go for rules-lite or rules-heavy fantasy adventures or if you want mysteries or sci-fi…. And it includes big names, like D&D, and indie TTRPGs, like Starsworn, side-by-side.  

Related hobbies and personal stories

Chapter 6 in A Kid’s Guide to Tabletop RPGs covers all kinds of cool ways to get more involved in the game and grow related hobbies.  It talks about painting minis, doing cosplay, practicing character voices for getting into RP, etc so that readers can see different ways to connect and feel encouraged to do it.  

What I particularly like about this section is how the personal experience comes through – Gabe explains how making character voices can be hard and shares how he works on making different voices or how awesome it feels to dress up as your character for a game.  Reading about someone else having a good experience with this or working through some of the same concerns that you might have can be a great way to get past your own barriers and try something new.

Session zero and safety tools

There’s a whole chapter devoted to setting up an effective session zero and properly using safety tools with your table.  It explains why it is so important to have a session zero and gives several options, whereas many guides give one or two, with clear and concise explanations for choosing which safety tools you want for your particular game.  This section also has an interview with Justice Arman, who wrote Questlings, about how he handled safety tools so that readers can see the behind the scenes considerations that are built into many games and get a very easy-to-use example of how a safety tool can be helpful to you. 

My overall thoughts on A Kid’s Guide to Tabletop RPGs

A Kid’s Guide to Tabletop RPGs is a fantastic book for youth to learn the ins-and-outs of entering into or growing within the TTRPG space.  It’s full of wonderful stories, key knowledge, and empathy for the reader so that kids can easily connect with and learn while having fun and being empowered to dive into the hobby.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book with my kid, and I hope your kids enjoy it too!

Find a copy of A Kid’s Guide to Tabletop RPGs

You can find a copy of A Kid’s Guide to Tabletop RPGs through Hachette Book Group (the page includes links to Amazon and other retailers as well).

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