Best Reading Apps for Kids
Children who struggle to read may find reading to be ‘boring’ or a chore. Kids may fight against parents when it’s time to read independently. And parents may feel that reading with children is just another hard-fought battle.
Reading should be enjoyable, but struggles may suck the joy right out of the story. The best reading apps for kids, however, may provide immersive, interactive and engaging instruction that keep a child’s attention on the story. Why are reading apps useful for struggling readers, and what apps should parents use for their children? We’ll explore these questions and more!
What is a Reading App?
Some parents may believe that all apps are simply games to keep a child busy. This isn’t the case! While there are many apps that are primarily for entertainment, apps also can be instructive and help children to progress their skills. There are apps for reading, math, science…and even history, too.
Reading apps for kids can have many different functions, though. Yes, some are designed as games but still offer instruction (essentially, it’s a lesson in a fun game format). Others provide books for children to read, while also offering instruction for reading comprehension and phonics.
Every app is different, so to explore and explain the functions and features offered by each one would be nearly impossible. It’s important for parents to research individual apps, however, before they commit to a subscription or app purchase.
Since apps are so different, parents need to know that the app will address the child’s reading struggles. An app that focuses primarily on phonics, for example, might not be the best choice for a child who really needs help with comprehension.
How Can Parents Research Reading Apps for Kids?
Parents may peruse the Google or Apple app stores and realize that they can endlessly scroll through options labeled as reading apps. Scrolling through all these offerings, though, makes it very clear that some of these apps are ereaders, others are choose-your-own adventure type apps geared to adults and others feature comics.
While e readers might be a great resource to allow kids to read books via a device, they aren’t technically designed to instruct children on reading or to help a struggling reader. They could still help children become better readers in the sense that they encourage reading…and all reading is beneficial. However, they might not be designed to help correct pronunciation or ask questions related to comprehension.
Yet, all these apps appear in the search queue for ‘reading apps.’ Parents have to sort through a LOT of options to figure out what may—or may not—help their child. For parents who really need an app to guide their child’s reading, the best advice is to reach out to a child’s teacher or to search specifically for reading instruction apps.
A teacher may be the best resource for parents who need to better understand what areas of reading their child needs help and extra attention. Teachers, though, might not have a comprehensive list of at-home options. And parents may find that they are on their own researching reading apps for their child.
Researching Apps to Find the Best Option
When there are so many apps floating in cyberspace, it may be hard for parents to know where to begin or what features are important. Parents may have already queried the options via app stores, but now it’s time to involve the power of the internet!
Parents need to conduct a quick internet search focused more on their child’s needs instead of a basic query hunting down every available app. The query can give parents some ideas about the products and services offered by each app.
Think about the following when querying the web for app choices:
- What are my child’s struggles?
- How should the app address those struggles?
- What features does the app offer parents to monitor progress?
- When will my child use the app?
- How will my child use the app?
Each app will offer different features and capabilities. Understanding the struggles of your child helps parents better pinpoint what type of app to select. Parents also should know how they want the app to help their child. Some kids may just need a little extra practice, and perhaps the child doesn’t like to read…thus, they’re falling behind. An e-reader reading app could be a great way to encourage the child to read a book in a digital realm.
A reader who is levels behind their peers might need more intensive instruction. Parents may need an app that focuses on correcting pronunciation, addressing fluency (or speed) and tests comprehension.
Is the child constantly on the go? Maybe there are multiple sports practices throughout the week, so the reading instruction needs to be mobile. In this case, the app should be compatible across devices.
Once parents understand their own needs and expectations of the app, they can begin to narrow down their search in their online queries. Instead of searching for “reading apps” or “the best reading apps,” the search terms may be funneled to include “reading apps for comprehension” or “reading apps for fluency.”
Then parents can start investigating individual options. When researching individual apps and programs, parents also should understand how the app measures progress. Parents need to know that the app will deliver results, and that it meets the needs of their child. The right app should have a clear way for parents to see and understand their child’s reading level and progress with the app.
Don’t Forget About the Budget!
Many reading apps or reading programs come with a cost. While some basic apps are free, those that provide reading instruction may charge a monthly fee or a one-time purchase fee (prices depend on the app or program).
Parents should look at their monthly budget to better understand what they can afford to spend each month or upfront. If the app is out of the family’s price range, keep searching. There are many options available!
Unsure about an app? Look for free trial offers from the company. Signing up for a free trial lets parents explore the app and all its functions and features. Most importantly, the trial allows the child to use the app, too. If a child doesn’t lock onto the app or if they find it disinteresting, parents may decide it isn’t the best choice.
Before you make any purchase or invest any money, parents should feel comfortable that it’s the best choice, the right choice for their child.
Key Features of a Great App
When parents and their child try out the app, they might look at the content/stories featured. To ensure children get the most out of lessons, stories should be engaging. Interactive features and illustrations also can help grab a child’s attention and add more interest to the story or book.
The app also should provide the right content that is on the right level for each child. Stories should advance as the child shows proficiency. If an app is too easy or too difficult, kids may get disengaged or frustrated.
Readability provides books for every child’s level. Stories include colorful illustrations and interactive features. One of Readability’s key features, though, is the built-in AI tutor. This smart assistant recognizes the child’s voice and provides feedback during lessons. If a child mispronounces a word, the tutor will gently correct the error.
Readability’s tutor also helps test a child’s comprehension. The tutor asks questions related to the book or story to uncover how much the child understood. Once the child displays proficiency across the app—comprehension and phonics—the child then advances to the next level.
Parents can gauge their child’s progress on the Parent Dashboard. This area shows how long the child used the app as well as their reading progress (and level). This provides parents with peace of mind and a deeper understanding of the app’s impact.
What About Free Reading Apps?
Readability can be used with other reading apps, too, for even more reading practice…and fun. While Readability focuses on helping to boost proficiency and reading skill, other free apps can challenge children with games or puzzles.
So what are some fun apps that can be used with Readability?
Sight Words Learning Games & Reading Flashcards: This app helps children identify sight words! Kids can play Bingo, memory games or use flash cards.
Dr. Seuss Treasury Kids Books: Read Seussical stories and practice reading. The app tracks books read, pages turned, reading time and more.
PBS KIDS Games: Your child can play with favorite PBS characters. The app includes math, science and other kids’ educational games.
There are also other reading apps that are designed for specific ages and grade levels. To find apps that are learning games, just query “reading apps games” in the App Store or on Google Play.
My latest project is truly where my happy place is, helping children. I’m a mom to two amazing souls who are my inspiration to be better, do better and strive for more. As a technology entrepreneur, I’ve had the privilege to contribute to the advancement of humanity through tech.
My passion has always been to ensure the end user of our products enjoys huge benefits. We are taking the world of education by storm with industry first reading and comprehension learning technology that levels the playing field for all kids. With over 20 years of tech experience and an army of child development professionals, reading specialists, and experts in education, I created Readability.