Try These Apps to Improve Reading

July 16, 2021

Apps can help make the journey of learning a bit more fun for children. Parents can download apps for almost every subject and interest, transforming the child’s mobile device into a mobile learning center. Children who don’t like to read or who may struggle with reading also might benefit from reading apps or apps that focus on letter and word recognition.

Reading apps can include games, immersive lesson-based content and more. Try these apps to improve reading and take the journey of books and stories…mobile!

Reading Apps that are Virtual Books

We Are Teachers reports that less than one in five children reads 30 minutes or more each day. While many schools assign nightly reading homework—ranging from 15 to 30 minutes—some children might not crack open those books at home.

All reading can be beneficial. Whether a child loves comics, graphic novels, newspapers, magazines or standard bound books, encourage them to read something! Many parents forget that technology could be yet another gateway to a love of literacy.

Call them ebooks, virtual books or just books online, many favorite titles can be downloaded to ereader apps to take kids on a virtual reading journey. Not sure how to download books? Most phones and tablets already have an ereader downloaded. Click the ereader (usually a book-type icon) and this can help parents navigate to an online library. Some books are free, but others might range in price.

Children and adults, too, may prefer reading a book that requires actual page flipping instead of virtual taps to turn the page. However, some gravitate towards technology and might enjoy reading a virtual book. An online library also could help kids explore different titles, genres and authors.

If a child’s device did not include an ereader, these apps are easy to find and easy to download. Just search for ereader via the App Store, Google Play or the Microsoft Store.

Reading Apps that are Games

Some children simply need additional reading practice or extra enrichment for sight words or phonics. Many apps are designed as games to help make mastering these fundamentals much more enjoyable. While, yes, parents can create standard flash cards to help children identify sight words, sometimes playing a game is more entertaining.

What game-based apps are the best for reading practice? Parents might want to first find out the grade-level expectations for their child’s school year. For younger children, this might include a list of sight words and perhaps hitting a specific reading level. Search for games focused on sight word identification, letter recognition, letter tracing, and/or match games.

Narrow down app searches to the areas of focus that pertain to the child’s unique needs. Some of these apps may be free, others may have a price.

PBS Kids is a great app that includes many different games and activities. Plus, it’s free to download! Children who watch PBS programming will enjoy seeing the faces of familiar characters and interacting with lots of fun content.

Learning-Based Reading Apps

There are different apps that are focused on helping children become better and more confident readers. These apps may be advertised as “evidence-based” and may offer features that are designed to  help children who struggle with various aspects of reading. Apps may include help for improving or gauging reading comprehension and/or help improve phonetic and phonemic awareness.

These apps include reading lessons leveled for the needs of each child. Readability, for example, includes books and stories that increase with difficulty as the child masters each level. However, mastery is based not just on reading finesse but comprehension, too.

So how do apps like Readability test the child’s ability and understand when the child can advance? Readability is a verbal-based reading program. Children must read stories aloud, and a built-in AI tutor will learn to recognize the child’s voice.

The AI tutor listens for pronunciation, reading fluidity and will help the child correct any reading errors. After each story/book, the tutor also tests the child on what they have read. If the child struggles to grasp the content and cannot demonstrate comprehension proficiency, then they do not move to a more difficult level.

When parents begin to use Readability, they can set up their child’s reading level so the program knows where to begin. How does a parent know their child’s reading level? This is information the school or the child’s teacher can provide. Reading levels can be referenced as numbers or letters, and the child’s teacher can help parents understand what these codes and levels mean in reference to grade-level correlation.

Once parents set the reading level, the lessons begin. Children then read books at their level and are tested on the knowledge of what they have read. As the child moves up, the stories will become more difficult. Again, though, children only advance as they show proficiency. This ensures that the content is always appropriate. Stories also are designed to meet the grade-level interest of children; older elementary school students won’t necessarily read the same stories as a younger child.

How can parents understand that programs like Readability are making an impact on a child’s reading journey? This answer depends on each unique app. Parents may have the option of numerous reading apps, and each app may report a child’s progress differently. Readability provides parents with a Parent Dashboard that only they can view. This dashboard includes all the reading data associated with their child. Parents can view their child’s current reading level, how long the child reads on the app, reading accuracy and words per minute.

A child’s reading journey may bridge between home and school. Children will be tested on their reading proficiency in the classroom, and teachers have this data throughout the year. To facilitate communication between school and home, parents also can send progress reports from Readability to their child’s teacher.

Reading improvement should be observed in the classroom, too. These reports generated from the app help parents communicate what they see about their child’s reading progress. Teachers can then compare this to what they observe in the classroom.

What is the Best Improve Reading App?

Kids respond to different content, learning styles and maybe even different media too. Some kids might not love technology, so apps may be of little benefit. Other children, however, cannot get enough of those screens.

Parents can find the best reading app or learning app for their child by understanding the unique needs of their child. Some children need to practice sight words, letter recognition or sounds. Others need more focused help on decoding and reading comprehension.

Game-based apps can help children who need to recognize sounds and words. Parents can find many apps that make learning phonics or sight words more enjoyable. Kids may love playing these games and practicing their skills.

For children who need more help and who struggle with reading in general, more focused apps like Readability could be an ideal solution. Readability helps with decoding, phonics and phonemics and comprehension. Stories include colorful illustrations and keep children engaged.

Before settling on an app—even a game—parents should look at price points. While games are fairly inexpensive, some can include ‘in-app purchases’ that can add surprise charges to an account if parents aren’t watchful. Thankfully, though, devices allow parents to disable in-app purchases so that these surprise charges don’t take their toll on the monthly bill.

Reading apps focused on a lesson-based approach, however, might bill differently. Readability requires a monthly subscription at $19.99 per month. This allows parents an account that can be used for up to three children in the household. Families who have multiple children that can benefit from this type of reading app, parents are spending less than $7 per child per month for reading instruction.

Try Out Apps First!

Parents who are unsure what app would be a good fit for their child can research different apps to better understand their features, but trial periods also could be offered that allows parents and children to use the app before committing to a subscription. Readability offers a free seven-day trial period; during this time, parents and their child have access to all of the app’s features and books.

During the trial period, parents might wish to sit with their child as they use the app. Shadowing a few lessons can help parents gauge their child’s interest in the app and also better understand both the reading content and other tools. With Readability, parents can sit with their child and hear how the AI tutor interacts during lessons.

While lesson-focused apps might offer trials, games might not. However, since many games are free or require a nominal cost, parents might not be too concerned. With games, parents also can check out the reviews or the information provided by the developer that offers additional details.

So how can parents sign up for free trials—if they’re available? To sign up for a free trial with Readability, simply complete the free trial information form, follow the prompts to begin the online reading journey!