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Kids & Tech

The Best Apps to Help Your Child Read

April 11, 2023
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    Some children take to reading in a snap, while others need extra support to master the skill. The average age a child learns to read is six to seven. However, many parents believe their child should read by preschool because of competitive preschool and kindergarten programs, mommy-blogging, and the keeping up with Jones's mentality social media incites. 

    However, if you are looking for ways to enhance literacy skills and improve your child's reading abilities, there are many reading apps for kids full of games, sight words, and interactive games and lessons for kids of all ages. 

    We’ve gathered a list of some of the top reading skill apps and websites available to help young learners and outlined what skills each one excels at building. So read on to discover the best reading app to boost your child’s reading level! 

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    The Best Apps for Learning Reading skills

    Children love mobile devices and are likely already using technology at their elementary school in one form or another. While it's not ideal to consistently place our kids in front of technology, many reading apps for kids with trusted and tried results can improve your child's reading skills.

    Kids learn best through doing, so the best reading apps use a multi-sensory and interactive approach to teach phonics, sight words, reading comprehension, and reading fluency. When used consistently and appropriately, reading apps for kids are proven to increase children's reading levels no matter the child's age when they begin.

    Below we've included some of the best reading apps for kids that use a variety of approaches like educational games, phonics lessons, educational videos, and interactive lessons to boost your child's language skills.

    Helping Your Child Learn Positive Habits With Joon

    Reading, like all other skills, requires patience and practice, and even the best reading app can only work its magic if your child uses it consistently. Parents can use Joon to set reminders when it is time to practice to encourage their children to engage with learn-to-read apps.

    Joon uses gamification and fun rewards to support your child as they create healthy habits. For example, Joon can remind young readers when to practice with their reading app and instantly provide positive feedback once they've completed the task! 

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    Homer - Most Well-Rounded Early Childhood App

    Named after the ancient Greek poet Homer, this early childhood app is designed for children ages two through eight. In addition to building literacy skills, it teaches core subjects and concepts like math and cognitive skills and enhances social-emotional development.

    Early childhood experts designed and created Homer, including lessons led by real teachers. Homer is not explicitly a reading app, but its reading lessons focus on age-appropriate literacy skills for each stage of your child's journey. In addition, it is an interactive app with fun games that will support your child's learning from an early age.

    Homer is an app that grows with your child from a young age and can support their reading levels from initial letter recognition to reading with fluency.

    The platform offers a one-month free trial with affordable plan options once subscribed.

    Hooked on Phonics - Most Experienced and Traditional Reading App

    Hooked on Phonics is one of the oldest and most established reading programs available. Hooked on Phonics has been helping kids learn to read since 1987, long before reading apps existed, and has successfully modified its program to fit our current tech-savvy age.

    More than just a phonics-based reading app, the key to Hooked on Phonics' success is that it pairs fun games and structured lessons with physical book reading and handwriting activities. In addition, their program recognizes the need for a multi-sensory approach to learning and uses game-based learning to keep kids engaged.

    The Hooked on Phonics program goes far beyond basic phonics and letter sounds. The basis of their program is the number one thing parents and teachers can do to help children learn to read is to read aloud with them. Therefore, unlike many other learn-to-read apps, Hooked on Phonics gets your child's nose out of the screen and into actual books.

    The Hooked on Phonics app works on any mobile device and only costs $12.99 per month, which gives parents access to the online program and the monthly delivery box with workbooks and activities based on their child's progress. In addition, parents can register multiple children, up to three, on the app, so if your kids' ages vary, they will each have an individual profile to support their reading path.

    Reading Raven - Best App for Sight Words

    Reading Raven is a reading app designed to teach children three through seven literacy skills. This reading app teaches the basic concepts of reading through playing games, phonics lessons, identifying words, and interactive lessons and activities.

    Reading Raven is ideal for early readers and strongly emphasizes word recognition and uses a variety of engaging ways to introduce and recycle words to keep learning fun.

    A unique offering this app offers that is different from other reading apps is a downloadable parent and teacher guide completely free. This guide is helpful for those who want to teach kids to read but aren't educators themselves.

    Reading Raven uses a step-by-step curriculum that allows children to learn at their own pace. The app assesses your child's ability based on how they score in each game or activity and then uses interactive games to guide them where they need it most.

    Reading Raven is available in the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store and only costs $1.99 with no in-app purchases.

    Starfall Learn to Read - Best App for PC Users

    Starfall is a website for young learners ages three to eight and is a popular elementary school resource for teachers. The website helps kids read using songs, nursery rhymes, and interactive lessons. Early readers can have stories read aloud on the sites Talking Library. Children practicing independent reading can mute the volume or use the I'm Reading section to either listen to the text before or after reading on their own.

    The website goes beyond traditional reading apps and includes basic English lessons designed to teach children basic grammar like parts of speech, nouns, verbs, adjectives, and fiction versus non-fiction.

    Starfall offers a decent selection of free material for young kids to try out. However, if you decide to purchase it, it is one of the most affordable reading apps at $35 for an annual subscription.

    Unlike other reading apps, Starfall is not available in app format. Still, it is simple to navigate and uses only a mouse and clicks system, so even young readers can use the site independently.

    Can Reading Apps Help My Child Learn to Read?

    Fun and engaging methods are one way to improve your child's desire and reading ability. But, sitting with your child and reading to them is the number one thing parents can do to encourage reading. 

    However, if your child is struggling and needs extra help or simply loves reading, and you want to enhance their blossoming skills, some reading apps and games can help young readers become better readers.

    If your child's school has reached out about your child's reading skills, you may be looking for ways to introduce extra reading lessons, like educational apps. Children struggle to read for various reasons, so the first step is discovering why your child's reading skills are behind. Once you've identified the cause behind the reading delay or the areas needing improvement, you'll be better equipped to choose the best reading app for your child.

    Like all technology, parents should use reading apps in moderation and with a level of supervision. The best reading apps are those that use a multisensory and interactive approach. Additionally, when parents sit and spend time with their children as they engage with technology, it increases their child's progress and engagement.

    Reading Development in Young Children

    Introducing a love of literacy and language should begin at birth. Many studies show that reading to newborns and babies increases their language and social development by introducing them to the concepts of communication, letters, sounds, numbers, and emotions and building memory and listening skills.

    However, most children won't begin recognizing letters and sounds until the age of three or four and won't recognize words other than their names or other extremely familiar words, like those seen on signs or logos, until four or five.

    This is all to say that while there are many resources to aid children with reading skills, parents shouldn't worry about their child's inability to read words and phrases until the end of kindergarten or first grade.

    Using the Library as Resource

    While many reading apps for kids are available, parents should also look beyond technology for resources to engage their children. Your local library is a great place to start. Your library is a source of unlimited stories, and giving your child a library card could be an essential step in ensuring their reading success.

    Allowing children to choose which books to read increases their likelihood of reading, so whether it be board books, graphic novels, or only books about baseball, head to your local library to boost your child's education.

    Additionally, many reading apps for kids and reading programs have partnerships with libraries. So check out your library to see if it is a participating library with any leading reading apps for kids or educational programs. Libraries also provide free access to educational videos, interactive read-aloud sessions, and other programs for learners of all ages.


    Whether your child is a budding reader and you're looking to encourage their interests, or they’re struggling with a skill like phonics or reading comprehension, reading apps are a helpful tool parents can utilize.

    Nothing beats spending time with your child and reading together. But a reading app can be a supplementary aid when teaching your child to read. When deciding which reading app is best for your child, consider their age, current skill level, and the areas they need the most support.

    An effective reading app will contain a huge library of activities, reading games, and other interactive activities that stimulate the brain and make learning to read fun and engaging.


    Dr. Brittany Ferri, PhD

    Brittany is a registered and licensed occupational therapist who holds a PhD in Integrative Mental Health. She is the owner of a writing and consulting company called Simplicity of Health. She has direct experience in program development, behavioral health, pediatrics, and telehealth. She has published five books, lectured at 20+ OT/OTA programs, and has been quoted as a health expert by NBC News, WebMD, CNN, and other outlets.


    Dr. Brittany Ferri, PhD

    Brittany is a registered and licensed occupational therapist who holds a PhD in Integrative Mental Health. She is the owner of a writing and consulting company called Simplicity of Health. She has direct experience in program development, behavioral health, pediatrics, and telehealth. She has published five books, lectured at 20+ OT/OTA programs, and has been quoted as a health expert by NBC News, WebMD, CNN, and other outlets.