Children of all ages can always read more to improve their reading confidence and fluency. There are many children who have an appetite for reading, and fly through books quickly. Others may like what they read but tend to take their time reading a book. Some children just haven’t found their reading passion. Maybe reading is a struggle, or perhaps reading just feels like homework.
Technology could be used to support literacy skills, and while screens might seem like entertainment they also can be great educational tools. There are many apps to improve reading that parents can use at home; these apps can include games but also programs that support and guide reading.
Here are the best apps to improve reading and to encourage children to read more!
One of the easiest apps to use on a phone or tablet to encourage reading is an e-reader app. These apps are almost always pre-installed on a device; Apple has an e-reader, and Android devices likely have their own reader, too.
Parents also could prefer a different e-reader that’s linked to a specific company like Barnes and Noble. There are handheld devices that look like tablets but are specifically designed as e-readers. Barnes and Noble offers the Nook, and there are several different styles.
These devices—or a tablet with an e-reader app—allow users to download virtual books that can be read on the screen. But these books often don’t require scrolling text like a standard web page. Instead, readers can flip the virtual pages using their fingertips.
There are many, many different books that parents can download via e-reader apps or devices. Some books may be free, others may be offered at various price points.
Like standard bound books, virtual books for children also offer colorful illustrations and maybe even interactive features, too. E-books are designed to mirror the physical reading experience, and this means the book itself (illustrations included) likely won’t change.
While e-readers aren’t for every child, some simply learn better via technology. Children who are tech-centric may be more drawn to a virtual style book versus the bound hardcopy.
Parents can try out e-reader apps and devices to find out if they work for their child. Some children may not love staring at the screen; it’s all a matter of preference.
However, those who embrace e-readers can gain reading confidence and perhaps even strengthen their reading skills by using these devices because, like books, children are reading and immersing themselves into a story. It’s not how a child reads, but how much they read that could be the benefit.
If a non reader suddenly becomes a reader with e-books, then this is a benefit for parents!
Reading Apps that are Games
The educational game can be a bit of a conundrum for parents. Are games really helpful? Even if they are marketed as educational?
Each game app is different and the pros and cons need to be weighed by parents. Before downloading a game—free or not—parents might want to read the reviews and check the format to see how exactly the game is designed to help a child read.
Some common reading games that could be a benefit include those that help children identify and learn common sight words or their letters. Games could encourage children to trace letters or identify them and their sounds in some way.
Again, though, games are unique in format. Sites like PBS Kids may have a variety of great educational games; however, PBS is known for educational programming. Parents should research the options before handing over the device with a game that they think is going to be beneficial.
Audio Book Apps
Should children just listen to a book? Audio books are books that are narrated or read aloud. This is a bit like a parent reading a book to a child.
Audio books can be used as a tool to help children understand emotion during a story or other feelings. One way parents can utilize these books is to let children listen to a story as they follow along in the book. Again, this is a way for children who may struggle with comprehension to gather more info about emotions and perhaps characters, too.
Understood delved into how audio books can help children; these books won’t impair learning, and may help children who struggle with reading. The site explains: “It’s actually a good thing for kids to read with their eyes and their ears at the same time. This makes reading “multisensory.” And that can help kids get better at sounding out words (decoding ) and reading comprehension.”
Parents can download audio book apps like Audible to access a library of auditory books. Use these along with standard bound books to help children sharpen their reading skills.
Reading Program Apps
For children who struggle to read at grade level and who need extra help and reading intervention, parents may use reading apps at home that are immersive and lesson-based reading programs.
There are a number of reading apps available. Some may focus on a specific literacy need (like comprehension), but others—including Readability—are multimodal and guide all aspects of reading.
Readability includes a built-in AI tutor that helps direct reading lessons and provides guidance when a child needs it. The AI tutor is programmed with voice recognition software, and, once it learns a child’s voice, it can detect pronunciation errors or notice when a child struggles or is stumbling.
Once the tutor detects a child’s frustration or notices a mispronunciation, it will provide help and guidance. The tutor also will ask questions at the end of each story to determine if the child has comprehended what they read.
Readability also is fully immersive in design. Children are encouraged to explore stories as they read. They can click on words to learn the definition, and, in this way, Readability helps children grow their vocabulary and expand their knowledge and individual word bank.
Children who have difficulties with reading may be overwhelmed if stories are too text-heavy. Readability keeps paragraphs manageable and includes colorful illustrations so children don’t face big blocks of text.
Stories also are leveled for each child. Parents can set their child’s reading level when they begin to use Readability; parents who are unsure where their child should begin also can let the program determine the reading level.
Children advance to more difficult levels as they demonstrate proficiency. How is proficiency determined? The AI tutor measures reading fluency in words per minute. And comprehension understanding is measured by quizzes given by the tutor at the end of each story.
Some children may need to stay on a level for more time than previous levels. Every child will advance at their own pace. And reading will get more difficult with every advanced level.
Parents will want to understand how their child is progressing via any reading program. Readability provides parents with their own portal that displays all the reading data for their child. The Parent Dashboard will include reading fluency, the child’s current reading level and how long they used Readability.
All reading data also can be compiled into a reading report that can be shared and emailed to a child’s teacher. This helps parents to better communicate reading progress to the school.
Many reading programs require a subscription. Readability bills its subscriptions monthly. However, one subscription (billed at $19.99) can be used for up to three children. For parents who need to help more than one child with reading, this ensures that they don’t have to pay for multiple subscriptions.
Parents may want to review a program before committing to a subscription. Readability offers a free seven-day trial period that provides full access to the program and enables children to get acquainted with the AI tutor.
If parents feel that the program is a good fit, they can continue on with a subscription. Ready to try out Readability and use the program’s reading tutor? Start a free trial today!