As a parent, you want the best for your child. You want them to grow up happy and healthy, with a bright future ahead of them.
But what if they’re struggling in school? What if they’re not learning at their grade level? What if they’re frustrated because they can’t keep up with the other kids?
If you’ve ever worried about your child’s reading ability, then this blog post is for you! We’ll go over some of the best apps for struggling readers.
Best Apps For Struggling Readers
I ran across an interesting piece by Jamie Martin at the Forbes online site titled “Apple vs. Google: The Real Winners are Students with Dyslexia.” Martin makes the point that the competition between Apple and Google has resulted in great benefits for people who struggle with reading and writing skills. Both companies, in order to keep the competitive edge as they rolled out new devices (e.g., Apple’s Apple Watch and updated versions of iPhone and iPad; Google’s updates to Android and Chromeboook) have made a significant number of features, tools, and software applications available on their products related to assistive technology (AT).
Over the past ten years, the increase in AT that supports reading and writing has been a great boon to students who struggle with literacy skills, and Apple and Google are leading the way. Apple started integrating text-to-speech and dictation into its operating system, and Google developed Google Apps for Education which many schools have adopted as their go-to learning platform. Originally, the best AT was available only for desktop computers. But now numerous AT products are available on smartphones and tablets. Here are a few examples that Martin identifies:
Inspiration (mapping software)
Read&Write for Google
Voice Dream Reader (Winston Chen)
VOICEtext audiobooks (Learning Ally)
TalkBack text-to-speech and Google Keyboard dictation and word prediction on Android phones
Ginger Software (for writing process)
Mind Meister (for writing)
Read&Write keyboard (Read&Write for iPad, Read&Write for Android) by TextHelp
Here are some additional resources for learning about AT that supports reading and writing:
Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST)
Joan SeditaJoan Sedita is the founder of Keys to Literacy and author of the Keys to Literacy professional development programs. She is an experienced educator, nationally recognized speaker and teacher trainer. She has worked for over 35 years in the literacy education field and has presented to thousands of teachers and related professionals at schools, colleges, clinics, and professional conferences.
free reading apps for elementary students
In today’s world of technology, it is easier than ever to learn about your favorite things, whether it is sports, movies, video games, and more through apps. Specifically, it has become an essential tool for teaching children valuable skills to prepare them for the real world.
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Apps today are developed to hone in on kids’ phonics, vocabulary, spelling, and reading ability so that they are not only learning but are enjoying the lessons they are engaging in. There are a variety of free apps for kids and toddlers to get a head start on their comprehension skills.
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Khan Academy Kids
Khan Academy Kids screen
With more than 60 books, the Khan Academy Kids app offers beginner reading activities that include illustrations and research-proven learning techniques. There are games to trace letters and copy words, in addition to simple read-along stories to strengthen their ABCs and sounding of words.
A special feature, Foundational Reading Skills, helps readers learn about the parts of a book and read words in the world outside of books, such as labels and packaging. (iOS, Android, Kindle Fire)
Kid Mode: Play + Learn: Multiple Reading Skills
Kid Mode: Play + Learn: Multiple Reading Skills screen
Designed for children ages 2 to 8, the app uses familiar cartoon characters to engage kids in learning the alphabet and other basic reading skills.
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Kid Mode also includes many activities for those who want to brush up on their math skills. Some of the characters included in the app are from PBS Kids and Disney, and also feature Thomas the Train, the Teletubbies, and Winnie the Pooh. (Android, Kindle Fire)
Sight Words List: Vocabulary
Sight Words List: Vocabulary screen
Through sight, sounds, and touch, Sight Words is organized by cognitive level to teach children how to read and expand their vocabulary.
A unique part about the app is that a parent or older sibling can add their own voices and items to the app’s interface by taking pictures of familiar items or possessions around the house. This personalization and the ability to adjust games for the readers make this app easy to use. (iOS)
ICDL Books For Children: Free Books
ICDL Books For Children: Free Books screen
The International Children’s Digital Library offers a collection of thousands of free picture books from more than 60 countries. The goal is to help children read and become “better world citizens” by introducing them to stories and cultures from dozens of countries around the world.
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Each book has a summary in English and the native language of the book, in addition to the ability to zoom into text and different viewing abilities on the interface. (iOS, Android)
Relay Reader logo
Brought to you by the Educational Testing Service, Relay Reader is one of the few reading tools that engage children in a full-length book versus short-length exercises for practice. Every other page is read out loud by a skilled narrator for extra help in preparation for when it is their turn to read aloud.
There is also an assessment at the end of the book to test how the reader comprehended the story. Further, children can record themselves reading so they can play it back and improve how they sound out words. (iOS, Android)
Learn To Read With Tommy Turtle
Learn to Read With Tommy Turtle screen
Learn to Read With Tommy Turtle encourages young kids to blend sounds into words, read and say words, identify words, and learn word families.
The free sections of the app include the “Magic Letter Bridge” for kids to practice blending letter sounds into words; “Skateboards and Helmets” which helps practice reading while changing Tommy Turtle’s outfits; and “Turn the Blocks” where kids can formulate new words by rotating letter blocks to form new word combinations. (Android)
Starfall Learn To Read
Starfall Learn To Read app screen
Each section of this app is led by Zac the Rat who teaches children a vowel sound and its related spelling. Kids are able to read, hear, touch, and master the sound and spelling of words through activities, movies, and songs.
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The app is focused on strengthening the relationship between spoken and written language, and it is recommended for new readers and English language learners. (iOS, Android)
ABC Kids: Tracing & Phonics
ABC Kids: Tracing & Phonics screen
The free phonics and alphabet teaching app is targeted at preschoolers, toddlers, and kindergarteners. ABC Kids includes tracing games that help kids recognize upper and lower case letter shapes and associate them with phonic sounds.
It personalizes the experience by using any alphabet knowledge kids already have for completing letter matching exercises. Stickers and rewards are given to readers for completing tracing games, making their experience more fun. (Android)
Word Domino Free
Word Domino Free screen
Although this game is pushed for older adults and children, younger kids are encouraged to get the app to help form words with the presented syllables on the board and inside the designated category.
Word Domino Free is perfect for enhancing vocabulary, reading abilities, and focusing their attention on forming words. There are three difficulty levels and can be increased to eight, and it is available in English, Spanish, French, and German. (Android)
ABC Letter Tracing: Alphabet
ABC Letter Tracing: Alphabet screen
ABC Letter Tracing is focused on helping children learn how to recognize and write the alphabet. With each upper and lower case letter, there is an accompanying picture representing its sound.
The app also includes a voice that guides children as they are tracing each letter for additional tips with the alphabet. (iOS)
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