Reading apps for kids are a great way to turn screen time into a learning opportunity. Dozens of reading apps provide simple, step-by-step methods, educationally proven to develop kids’ reading skills. Many of these apps incorporate fun songs, stories, and games to keep your child engaged in learning. Whether you’re at home or in the waiting room at the dentist’s office with your children, take advantage of one or more of these great reading apps. We’ve narrowed down the best reading apps for kids to help you choose the right one for your child’s reading needs.
7 best reading apps for kids
- Best phonics app for kids: Homer
- Best reading app for toddlers: ABC Kids – Tracing & Phonics
- Best reading app for kindergarten: Reading Raven
- Best reading app for 1st graders: Hooked on Phonics
- Best reading app for elementary school age: ABC Mouse
- Best read-aloud app: I Like Books
- Best storytime app: Skybrary
- Best free reading app: Starfall
- Wanderful (for pre-k and early readers)
- Bob’s Books Reading Magic #2
- Read & Spell Game First Grade
- Epic! (For kids 12 and under)
- Little Stories
Reading app reviews
Best reading app highlights
1. ABC Kids: Tracing & Phonics (free)
- Incorporates kids’ prior alphabet knowledge in letter matching exercises
- Uses tracing games to help children identify upper and lowercase letter shapes
- Associates letter shapes with phonic sounds
2. Homer (not free but offers a 30-day free trial)
- Develops reading skills through phonics lessons, children’s own voice recordings, drawings, and stories
- Helps parents choose a personalized learning plan for their children
- Includes topic-specific reading lessons such as planes, holidays, and dinosaurs
3. ABC Mouse (not free but offers a 30-day free trial)
- Makes learning to read a fun experience by offering interactive lessons and games
- Places children at the level they need to be by assessment
- Encourages children’s improvement through rewards
- Helps parents keep track of their kids’ progress
4. Starfall (free and paid options)
- Incorporates games, online books, songs and rhymes to teach reading skills
- Helps build word recognition and reading comprehension
- Offers numerous other resources for parents and teachers
5. Reading Raven ($2.99)
- Teaches children pre-reading skills and reading short sentences
- Incorporates mini-games and voiced instructions to guide kids in reading
- Uses animals and other engaging objects in teaching kids to read
6. Skybrary (free trial and paid monthly/annual options)
- Offers hundreds of e-books to readers of all ages and levels
- Guides children on real-world video field trip adventures
- Engages children with interactive animation and reading activities
- Provides storytime options such as voice-over narration or read-aloud
7. Hooked on Phonics ($1 trial and paid options)
- Provides a thorough phonics program that combines learning, practicing and reading
- Allows children to learn at their own pace
- Includes review through e-books, workbooks and songs
- Reinforces learning using a step-by-step approach
8. I Like Books ($1.99)
- Includes 37 picture books in the app
- Highlights each word in red as book is being read aloud
- Allows parents to add their own voices to record each book
- Combines audio, visual, and tactile features in the stories
Popular reading apps for kids comparisons
Homer vs. ABC Mouse
Homer’s online reading program was developed by a team of expert educators. It encourages pre-school learning and is supported by extensive research and testing with children. However, their curriculum ends at the age of 8, so children advance only so far in reading. Users fill out a reading assessment form, which Homer uses to create an individualized track to guide children on their reading journey. The website is easy for children to use, with subjects and difficulty levels clearly sectioned.
But young children can be overwhelmed by Homer’s interface and may need adult supervision. In addition to reading, Homer also offers math, critical thinking skills, social, and creativity learning programs. This website strictly guards users’ privacy and will not sell personal information to third-party software. Parents and teachers can try Homer for free for 30 days. After that, users can choose a monthly subscription for $9.99 or an annual one for $59.99. They can also sign up for a hands-on and digital package for $99.99 per year, which includes offline printable downloads, three activity kits, tips from educational experts, up to four child profiles, and unlimited access to the Learn & Grow app.
ABC Mouse was also developed by a team of expert educators and customizes its curriculum for children ages 2-8. This reading program provides more than 10,000 learning activities for kids at all levels. Unlike Homer, they extend their program (Adventure Academy) to accommodate children up to age 13. They also offer more subjects than Homer such as science, social studies, and language arts as well as math. ABC Mouse also includes an assessment center, which involves more than just an initial assessment test as with Homer.
Their website is also very user-friendly; children can easily navigate the tabs without much adult supervision. Their interface seems to be more visually appealing to children than Homer’s. ABC Mouse is also vigilant when it comes to user privacy and has a child-safe guarantee. A major difference between these two programs is that ABC Mouse offers incentives for students’ efforts. Kids can earn tickets as they progress through their lessons. They can spend their tickets at the “store” on items such as clothes, pets, etc. Like Homer, ABC Mouse offers a free 30-day trial. After that, users can subscribe monthly for $12.99 or annually for $59.99. Membership includes 3 child profiles, online learning, access on all device types, and more than 10,000 learning activities.
Starfall vs. ABC Mouse
Starfall focuses on children ages pre-k through second grade. It primarily teaches reading and English but also provides help for homeschooling and special education needs. The website is divided into four main sections: games, stories, letter recognition, and animation that reinforce vocabulary and letter sound. Starfall emphasizes phonemic awareness, audiovisual interaction for common sight words, and systematic sequential phonics. Parents and teachers can access free downloads and learn-to-read book printouts.
The biggest difference between Starfall and ABC Mouse is the pricing. Starfall is free but also offers a variety of memberships that provide additional resources and help. The Home membership costs $35 per year and is intended for one household. The Teacher’s membership costs $70 per year, plus $63 for 20 or more additional items. This membership serves one teacher and up to six students’ computers or mobile devices. The Classroom membership costs $150 per year, plus $135 for 20 or more additional items. A teacher can use this for one entire classroom. Lastly, the School membership costs $270 per year plus $243 for 20 or more additional items. It can be used for all school computers and classroom mobile devices.
ABC Mouse offers these subscription options:
- Monthly: $12.99
- Short-term: $29.99 per six months
- Annual: $59.99
Hooked on Phonics vs. Homer
Hooked on Phonics
This reading program allows children to learn at their own pace. Target ages are 3-8 and anyone reading below a third-grade level. Hooked on Phonics expertly introduces phonics by guiding children through the sights and sounds of letters. It also helps children learn to blend combinations of letters into words they can read. Like other reading programs, it incorporates fun songs, animation, and games to create a multisensory learning experience. As kids complete different activities, they progress from one level to the next. For example, they may click on words to read out loud, watch an instructional video, or play a game in which they drag a letter to make a word. Rewards such as stickers, computer characters, and digital toys motivate children in their learning.
Different reviews praise Hooked on Phonics for its organized, easy-to-use and functional layout. Another outstanding positive is that the app’s content can be downloaded and accessed offline. Parents and teachers can try the app for just $1 for the first month. After that, they will be automatically charged $12.99 per month plus $2.99 for shipping and allows users to create up to three student profiles. The monthly membership includes not only the online program but also e-books, workbooks, and additional books to reinforce reading lessons. Membership can be cancelled at any time.
They offer a free monthly trial and charge only $9.99 per month and allow up to four student profiles. Offline printable activities are included but not books or e-books. Keep in mind that their website homepage can be more challenging for young children to navigate.
How do reading apps help with reading?
Reading apps specifically target children’s spelling, phonics, vocabulary and comprehension. They teach letter shapes, letter sounds, the alphabet, and simple words. These apps also help children learn how to put letters together to form words, and words into short sentences. Reading apps incorporate many different tools such as games, songs, stories and animation to encourage kids to interact as they learn to read.
Learn to read apps vs. book apps for kids
Book apps provide hundreds, even thousands, of digital books for children to read but generally don’t teach children how to read. Learn to read apps are geared especially for teaching kids how to read and often include stories and books.
Paid vs. free reading apps for kids
Many free reading apps provide excellent instruction in reading. Several also offer extra features such as games, printable downloads, and rewards.
Many of the paid apps offer free trials and varying membership fees (monthly, annually, etc.). Paid subscriptions include many additional resources such as books, activity kits, progress trackers, and extra games. You may want to consider a paid reading app over a free one since some of them offer access to educational experts who can give you advice for your child. Paid apps also greatly facilitate in keeping track of your child’s reading progress.
What features should you look for in a reading app?
With so many reading apps available, it can be daunting when trying to find the best one for your child. Here are a few things to look for:
- Apps that target your child’s age or grade level.
- Reading goals the program may provide for your child.
- Apps that are easy for your child to use and navigate.
- Graphics that will capture their interest but not distract.
- Activities that encourage interaction.
How to Use Reading Apps in Your Homeschool
It’s convenient to incorporate reading apps into your daily homeschool schedule. You can use them to supplement your child’s regular reading curriculum. At the end of their reading lesson, allow extra time for your children to watch a video, play a game, or read a story on one of these reading apps. Or you can use one as your main reading program. Hooked on Phonics is a great choice since it includes workbooks and extra reading books.
With so many reading apps available, helping your child learn to read can be even more fun, enriching, and rewarding. Any of these apps can provide the resources you need to make the most of your child’s journey in reading.
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Jennifer is a pastor’s wife and mom of two young girls and loves homeschooling them. During her own twelve years of being homeschooled, Jennifer developed a passion for reading and writing. She earned a bachelor’s degree in creative writing and relishes writing during her free time.