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The Best Learn To Read Apps For Kids

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Apps are a completely brilliant way to help children learn to read.

Some kids do learn quickly with traditional reading schemes.

But in my experience most … including mine! … really respond to the extra motivation of cool interactive games AND rewards!

Apps are also a big help for struggling kids who need lots and lots of practice with phonics.

Constant repetition is pretty dull but apps can cover the same phonics in all sorts of fun ways.

So what apps should you buy?

The best learn to read apps for kids

There are loads of fun learn to read apps out there … we’re into Endless Alphabet at the moment … but the downsides of individual apps are that most focus on a few skills so you always need new apps as your kids progress.

And in lots of apps kids can jump from game to game before mastering specific phonics and end up just randomly clicking buttons.

This is where apps that are complete learn to read programs come into their own, as they guide children systematically through the different stages of learning to read.

Some of these complete learn to read apps aren’t cheap, but I have been completely wowed by the progress my daughter has made in a very short time with Reading Eggs, the program we use.

There are quite a few different programs out there, so you need to do your homework on what they offer and which will work best for you and your kids.

These are my tips on how to choose the best learn to read program for your kids and some suggestions for programs to consider.

Choosing Learn to Read Apps


A full reading program is obviously much more expensive than the little apps you can buy for a few dollars … the list price is typically £40/$60 and up for a year’s subscription.
The difference is the reading programs can actually teach your child to read.
You can usually find discounts … we got 25% off our main program … and with this it works out at about 10p/15c a day which to me is money very well spent.

Age Range

Some, like ABC Mouse, Agnitus and Pre-K Scholars, focus on pre-K and Kindergarten while others, e.g. Reading Egg, support kids from 3 to 13.  In my experience you get more out of programmes, the more you invest in them so there are advantages to the programs that cover a wide reading age.

But if your know your child gets easily bored you may prefer a shorter program.

Touch Screen

Although young children can master keyboards & a mouse, touch screen apps speed things up for pre-K and Kindergarten and keep them more engaged.

If you don’t currently have a touch screen computer some good budget laptops available with touch screens that are great for sharing with your kids.

A few of the apps that are very, very good but have been around for a while e.g. Study Dog require Flash, so won’t run on an iPad unless you install a browser that supports flash e.g. Puffin.

Independent Learning
You need to decide whether you want an app the children can use on their own or whether you’re going to sit down with them to follow the program.
Study Dog, for example, is designed for kids to use on their own … with progress reports for parents … whilst Hooked on Phonics expects you to sit down with your children.
Support Struggling Readers?

Learning to read is a complex combination of sound and shape recognition, context, meaning, logic and concentration. Children who struggle with one or more of these individual skills may struggle with reading and need targeted support to help them learn to read.Some reading programs e.g. TNT Reader have been specifically developed for struggling readers and, so if you think your child is struggling, do check out whether the program is targeted at their reading needs.

Home Schooling

If you’re home schooling especially if you’re a newbie you’ll probably want something very structured that comes with supporting printed materials.
Hooked on Phonics for example comes with work books, DVDs and stickers that are integrated with on-line games. It’s not the cheapest option but it is comprehensive.

What School Uses

Plenty of schools now use learn to read apps, e.g. Click n Kids, so it’s worth finding out what they use and whether there’s a home version that you can sign up for so you’re reinforcing what’s going on in the classroom.

Trial Version

It’s a no-brainer but do try out before you buy … Reading EggsStudy DogABC Mouse, for example, all have free trial versions available and Hooked on Phonics has a discounted trial.

Try it out yourself first and then spend time letting the kids try it out … their perspective may be very different to yours.

Do give yourself enough time to get the most out of the trial.

Reward Schemes
Do NOT under estimate the motivation for kids of collecting small creatures as rewards!

When you’re doing a trial do see if the reward scheme engages your child.

Pure Phonics?

Phonics definitely help many kids to read … particularly those who might struggle otherwise … but it’s not the whole story. Reading is a complicated mixture of sound and shape recognition plus understanding of meaning and context.

Some programmes such as Agnitus emphasise that they combine phonics with this whole language approach.

How Do My Kids Learn Best?

Children learn in different ways … partly due to abilities & interests but also to personality.

Introvert kids for example, may respond better to programs with a strong focus on independent learning. And whilst some children may enjoy fact focused apps others may prefer a stronger focus on character and plot as in Study Dog.

To find out more about how personality impacts learning styles do check out Kidzmet and the Parent’s Playbook for Learning which is a great introduction to children’s personalities.

Is it Just Reading?

Whilst kids definitely benefit from focus many may find the separation of games into “reading”, “math” and “other stuff” pretty artificial. Some of the programmes are pure reading programmes whilst others like Agnitus and ABC Mouse have a range of different games

Discounts for Multiple Children

One of the biggest benefits of full reading programs is the progress tracking and progression from stage to stage when they are personally read. If you’ve got more than one child at different reading levels do make sure that the reading program can be used by multiple children without you paying 2 or 3 times over.

I would love to hear about your experiences of learn to read apps … which ones do you rate? And which features have you found most valuable for your children?

the classroom creative

Saturday 29th of March 2014

We enjoy a lot of these apps! Thought I would share another sight word app my son plays all the time called "Word Bingo"! Thanks for sharing all these great ideas!

Eric Rolf

Wednesday 29th of January 2014

I must say you really have worked hard to come up with such exciting list. i am a single parent homeschooling two kids. besides, i am running my own website named, do visit it.furthermore, i am volunteering my services at a school run for poor kids. i am going to use this list of apps for my students. thanks for sharing.


Saturday 18th of January 2014

Great ideas, we have some of these, but I can't wait to check out the newer ones! Thanks for sharing! :)


Tuesday 7th of January 2014

wonderful ideas. Pinned to my Kids app list board.


Sunday 5th of January 2014

Thanks this was helpful. my son is turning 3 in february and we are going to be working on letters, words, sounds, etc. this year.