These are the Best Reading Tools to Use at Home

February 7, 2023

Reading Tools

Children need to read regularly to become better at reading. Some children might grab books each night and feel excited about reading, but others might push back when parents ask them to read. While daily reading is often part of a child’s daily homework from school, parents can help simplify the reading task by encouraging children to use tools that help them as they read.

Children can struggle with comprehension or decoding. Some children struggle with both areas of literacy. Using simple tools could help make reading easier and more fun, too. These are the best reading tools to use at home to help children gain reading fluency and proficiency:

  • A bookmark
  • Sticky notes
  • A dictionary
  • Audiobooks
  • Reading worksheets
  • Reading programs

Reading Tools

A Bookmark Has Multiple Uses

Book fairs at schools typically sell many different bookmarks with patterns, characters, quotes and more. Picking out a new bookmark can be fun for a child, and a bookmark also can be a reading reward.

While most parents just see one purpose for a bookmark (to mark the page), this small tool actually can serve many purposes for children as they read. While the bookmark is meant to mark the page so the child knows where they need to begin reading, it also can be used for:

  • Chunking text  
  • Hiding text
  • Concentrating on one sentence

Chunking the Text with a Bookmark

A bookmark can be used to show children a specific block of text that they need to read. Chunking the text means dividing the text into easy to read sections. This could be by paragraph or multiple paragraphs. Use the bookmark to show the child the endpoint of the ‘chunk.’ Just place the bookmark underneath the text the child should chunk and read.

Hiding Text

Children might look ahead in the story. This can ruin the plot for them by allowing a child to see something that has yet to happen later on the page. However, it also can distract children. Use a bookmark to cover up text and help children focus on what they are reading. Some bookmarks also feature a colored film and these bookmarks could be beneficial for children with dyslexia; the film is placed over the text.

Keep the Pace

Use a bookmark to help children keep their reading pace. The bookmark can be placed below each sentence to encourage children to read slowly and focus on decoding each word. This could be a great tool for early readers.

Make a Reading Comprehension Bookmark

In addition, parents could encourage children to make a reading comprehension bookmark or parents could print these bookmarks from online sites. Reading comprehension bookmarks provide prompts that children need to think about as they read; some reading comprehension worksheets could include specific comprehension questions, too.

For older children, reading comprehension bookmarks might include a space to write notes and details. Again, these bookmarks provide a visual reminder for children about what they need to think about as they read.

Parents can download free reading comprehension bookmarks from the sites Fun in First and 123 Homeschool 4 Me.

Reading Tools

Get Sticky with Reading

Sticky notes are inexpensive tools that are great to help children with many aspects of the reading journey. Sticky notes can be used to mark a page, but they also can be used to let children write notes about important details of the story.

Many sticky notes are offered in blocks of many colors. These different colors can be used for different chapters in the book. In addition, one color could focus on character details; another might focus on plot, etc.

Sticky notes provide an easy way to track details, keep notes and stay organized while reading longer books or more complicated novels. This simple tool can be used throughout high school and into college, too.

Keep a Dictionary on Hand

Books introduce children to new words and ideas. Sometimes they might stumble upon a word that is unfamiliar. If they don’t know the word, how can they make sense of the meaning of the sentence? One word can change the sentence, and children can keep a dictionary on hand as they read to look up a new and unfamiliar word.

Parents of younger children can buy dictionaries written for their age. Some dictionaries might even feature illustrations.

Reading Tools

Audiobooks Let Children Read with their Ears

Listening to a book as they follow along can help children better understand the intonation of characters and perhaps underlying context, too. Narrated stories also can let children hear new words and even enjoy books that are slightly beyond their reading level.

In addition, listening to stories also could help improve a child’s comprehension—although this might not be true for every reader. Parents can consider downloading the audiobook of a novel or story their child is currently reading to let them listen as they read (or even after they read).

Many public libraries offer audiobooks for free (to check out) for members. Parents also could download audiobooks via their smartphone (open the Book reader) or via apps like Audible. However, sites like Audible require a subscription.

Printable Reading Worksheets

Reading worksheets are available for free online; these resources are great tools to help children focus on specific literacy skills. For example, some worksheets might concentrate on comprehension, while others might help children work on and practice letter sounds, blends, etc.

Parents also could ask teachers for worksheets that they could use to practice these skills at home. If teachers cannot provide reading enrichment worksheets, they might be able to recommend a site where parents can print out these tools.

Use a Reading App at Home

For children who need more reading guidance than parents can provide, a reading app like Readability can offer guided reading lessons to help children gain proficiency and become more fluent and confident readers. Readability can be used from kindergarten through sixth grade and can grow with a child’s reading abilities.

Readability includes a built-in AI tutor programmed with voice recognition software; the tutor is intuitive and learns each child’s voice. As lessons via Readability are read aloud, the tutor can discern when a child needs help and when they are struggling with a word.

Parents can set their child’s reading level as the baseline to begin reading lessons on the program. If parents are unsure as to which level is appropriate, the program can work with the child to determine the best baseline level.

Children only advance to a higher reading level when they demonstrate that they can read accurately (fluency) and when they demonstrate mastery over comprehension, too. As the child reads books aloud through the program, the AI tutor is assessing their fluency (measured in words read per minute).

At the end of each book, the tutor asks questions to gauge the child’s comprehension. If the child answers the question incorrectly, the tutor will show the child a section of the book that provides clues. The tutor also will read the section aloud, and the child will have another opportunity to answer the question.

Each book also includes a vocabulary list to help children increase their word knowledge. In addition, children can tap any word in a book to hear the word’s definition or hear it used in a sentence.

Parents can follow their child’s reading progress via a private portal in the program. This portal displays the child’s reading level, their comprehension, reading fluency and the duration that the child has used Readability. In addition, parents also can create a report with this data and send it to the child’s teacher.

While there are many resources and reading tools parents can utilize at home to help their child gain reading proficiency, Readability provides multiple tools to help guide a child’s reading journey and help them gain confidence as they improve their reading ability. Parents who are interested in learning more about Readability can sign up for a free seven-day trial to explore all the features with their child.