The Value of Apps for Learning to Read

The good news is there really does seem to be an app for everything. The bad news is if you are looking for specific apps—such as the best apps for kindergarten—it's easy to feel overwhelmed by all the choices.

After all, as a parent, you probably know just how important learning to read is to a child's scholastic and personal well-being. According to the One World Literacy Foundation[1], reading is an important part of improving children's concentration, discipline, memory and vocabulary. Our kids need all these skills for the best school success, and the development of these skills helps them build their esteem and become more self-confident.

Here's a look at five apps for encouraging literacy and building reading skills that are either free or offer tremendous educational value in relation to their cost because they focus on core components such as phonics, letter and word recognition and sight words.

Reading Apps Help Kids Learn to Read Faster

Apple iPad
Credit: By Glenn Fleishman from Seattle, Washington. Interface is copyright Apple Inc. (Behold the iPad in All Its Glory) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

5 Reading Apps For Children

1. How Rocket Learned to Read

Reluctant readers will relate to Rocket instantly because he doesn't want to learn to read either! Fortunately for Rocket, his feathered friend is a wonderful reader and teacher who shows Rocket how much fun reading is. The app is the perfect companion to the bestselling book of the same title by Tad Hills and a clever interactive way to help kids develop their early literacy skills.

Kids can read it themselves or listen to the narration. Seeing words in print and then hearing them pronounced correctly helps kids make the connection between the printed word and the spoken word and develops their pre-reading skills. As a bonus, the app includes two games to help kids learn sight words, which is usually a challenging task, and the alphabet. Priced at $4.99, this is a small investment for the years of value children will receive from their reading skills. You can buy this iPad app from the iTunes store.

How Rocket Learned to Read
Amazon Price: $17.99 $5.59 Buy Now
(price as of Jan 10, 2016)

2. Sight Words

High frequency words, sight words or the Dolch list are terms used to describe the roughly 315 words in the English language children need to memorize and to recognize as part of developing their reading skills.  The Dolch list is divided into pre-primer, primer and first grade sight words, and your child needs to be proficient with all these words to become a fluent reader. These words are one of the things kids need to know before starting kindergarten, and learning them gives your child an advantage in making a successful transition from home to school.  

Fun games like sight word bingo or the activities and games on the Sight Words app make learning these words interactive and easy for kids. Parents and guardians customize the app for their children by deleting unwanted flashcards or recording their voices using the correct pronunciation for each word. In addition to the flashcards, the app features five games ranging in difficulty from easy to challenging to reinforce the lessons.

You'd probably expect to pay a pretty penny for a feature rich reading app like this one so the fact that it is a free app just makes it more appealing. Sight Words is compatible with iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch with iOS 4.3 or later and available in the iTunes store.

Reading Raven App Trailer

3. Reading Raven

Sight words are one of the foundations for developing reading fluency; phonics are another. Reading Raven is a fun way for kids to build on the phonic lessons they receive in the classroom or home school environment and to increase their retention and reinforce their learning.

This self-paced app is customizable by age group or grade level for kids from three to seven and helps them develop valuable literacy skills such as:

  • Letter and word matching and tracing
  • Word and letter recognition
  • Rhyming words and beginning sounds
  • Word groups and word spotting

It's a bargain - $3.99 - and designed for iPads with iOS 3.2 or later. Look for it in the iTunes store.

Apps To Learn To Read Are Available For Smartphones

Apps for smartphones
Credit: Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/Free Digital

4. Word Bubbles

All work and no play discourages early readers so give your little learners a fun break with Word Bubbles. They will still be learning, but they will have so much fun playing the game it won't seem like a lesson.

The game includes three different free levels plus an option for adults to pay for a grown up version of this spelling game. Toddlers hear, see and learn new words while older kids learn pre-writing skills such as writing from left to right. After they learn to recognize and say the words, they can advance to learning to write the words.

It's also advertising free so you don't have to worry about your kids clicking off the app and onto another site. Get this free Android app from the Google Play store; it's compatible with the Verizon LGE VS840 4G.

5. Montessori Words for Kids

The Montessori method focuses on self-paced instruction involving all five senses. This innovative teaching method is the foundation for the Montessori Words for Kids app. This app empowers kids to develop literacy and writing skills by teaching crucial skills such as phonemic awareness and letter-sound recognition. As they learn to build words with the 300 words, audios and phonics, they hone their skills and become more confident readers. Kids can choose from cursive or upper and lower case letter options and the movable Phonics-enabled alphabet is a valuable bonus.  

At $2.99, this is a great educational app for kids and an excellent investment in your child's literacy development. This is an Android app for versions 2.2 and up and available in the Google Play store.

Reading Skills For Kids

Literacy goes beyond simply reading; literate children must become fluent in speaking and listening as well as developing their language abilities and reading skills. While classrooms and home school environments are important parts of the learning process, it's important for our children to have the opportunity to practice and to hone their skills in all areas of literacy.

Technology advances such as applications for smartphones, tablets and other high-tech gadgets offer an inexpensive way for parents and guardians to piggyback on their child's daily learning experiences and reinforce the lessons they have learned.  By investing in one or all five of these best apps for kindergarten, you are investing in your child's future and providing them with the tools they need for better school performance and increased learning capacity.

Note: Prices, compatibility and availability are deemed correct at the time of writing but are subject to change without notice. It's always a good idea to verify the current information before making a buying decision.