Learning to read is one of the most crucial and formative experiences for young children, so it’s no surprise that there’s a vast selection of reading apps on the market for kids.
However, because reading is such a fundamental life skill, it’s important to weigh up your options before you make a choice for your child. After all, the app that you select could have a significant impact on your child’s reading skills moving forward.
We’ve done our research and narrowed down your choices to the top 5 best reading apps for kids, currently available through iOS and/or Android devices!
Keep reading to find out which reading apps are most highly rated by kids and parents alike, so you can provide your child with the best possible learning experience.
OUR TOP PICK
Our top recommended reading app for kids is the Montessori Letter Sounds app. This is a great app for children aged between 3 and 4 ½ years old. Because it’s so beginner-friendly, it’s the ideal app for giving your child a head start in reading before kindergarten!
The reading exercises provided through this app consist of 4 steps which, together, will teach your child the core skills they need to start their reading journey.
The first level is suitable for children aged 3 and consists of a sound-based ‘I spy’ game. Then comes level 2, for children aged 4, which progresses to identifying letters by sound and shape.
Between the ages of 4 and 5, app users can move to the third stage, which consolidates the knowledge from the first 2 levels. The final level provides children aged about 4 ½ with an alphabet that they can move around to create simple words based on the sounding exercises from previous levels.
At each stage of the app, children will be able to engage with learning activities and fun, educational games to help them retain what they have learned and self-correct any errors.
Montessori also provides a learning toolbox via the app, which includes vocabulary images, a guide to the phonetic alphabet, a notebook, and a sandbox tool for tracing letter shapes.
Additionally, the fact that the Montessori app is available in 5 languages (English, French, Spanish, Italian, and German) means that there is always the option to start learning a new language from an early age. This is a very useful feature for parents aiming to raise bilingual children.
It should be noted, however, that some users have experienced issues during the downloading process where technological issues cause an incomplete download of the purchase.
This reading app for kids was the winner of the 2012 Parents Choice Gold Medal, so why not give it a try?
- Pre-kindergarten-friendly - Excellent starter app
- 4 stages - Teaches letter sounds and shapes
- Activities and games included - Consolidates knowledge
- Learning toolbox provided - Allows for independent practice
- Available in 5 languages - Versatile and challenging
- Occasional download issues - May be prone to bugging
Homer Learn and Grow is our next recommendation if you’re looking for a highly effective and comprehensive learning app for kids, which includes reading skills.
This is an early learning app aimed at children aged between 2 and 8. This means that the content in this app covers a wide range of learning stages for continued and long-term learning.
Additionally, while this is an incredible reading app, it also covers a selection of other very important subjects. Using the Homer Learn and Grow app, your child can develop their math skills as well as thinking skills, emotional and social learning, and creativity!
Specifically, the reading portion of this app starts right at the beginning, introducing the alphabet and the upper and lower cases. The program then proceeds onto letter identification and formation, helping children to associate letters with visual and auditory stimuli. The following module focuses on phonics, building this skill until they are able to read and spell short words, construct simple sentences, and develop fluency.
Something we especially like about this app is the fact that the lessons are very engaging, with videos, stories, songs, characters, and activities to sustain interest and focus.
The content of the Homer Learn and Grow app is based on expert-led research showing that the pattern of introduction, practice, and application leads to the ability to transfer reading skills into real life.
Homer Learn and Grow has been proven to be so effective that it increases early reading scores by 74% on average, so there’s no reason not to get started today!
- Multi-subject app - Teaches reading, math, thinking skills, creativity, and emotional learning
- Suitable for children aged 2-8 - Covers various learning stages
- Highly interactive - Engaging
- Based on expert research - Trusted format
- Increases reading scores by 74% - Proven positive results
- Reports of occasional glitching - May cause unsaved progress
The Reading Eggs app for kids is suited to both iOS and Android devices, so it’s easily accessible. In addition to this, it’s jam-packed with resources to help your school-aged child to develop their reading abilities at a fast pace.
This app has been created for children aged between 2 and 10, so it covers the curriculum from preschool all the way up to the 5th grade.
Included in this app are 2,500 different storybooks, accompanied by guided lessons, games, and printable worksheets to help ingrain knowledge along the way.
The format of the program starts at preschool level, teaching awareness of the alphabet and phonetics through a combination of activities, games, videos, and mini books.
The next level progresses to more advanced skills like vocabulary, spelling, comprehension, and recognizing words by sight. These skills continue to be built up throughout the program with the aim of helping children to read for enjoyment.
In addition to all of the above, Reading Eggs provides activities to develop basic numeracy skills such as learning numbers and identifying shapes, measurements, and patterns.
Reading Eggs has been developed by expert educators and is based on a foundation of 30 years of research. This has ultimately led to a success rate of 91%.
However, there isn’t as much of a focus on learning games with this app as with some of the other apps linked in this article. For this reason, children who are prone to distraction may find it difficult to use without parental or teacher supervision.
- Caters to ages 2 - 10 - Preschool through 5th grade
- 2,500 storybooks included - Hours of guided learning
- 91% success rate - Confirmed efficacy
- Created by expert educators - Backed by 30 years of research
- Numeracy skills covered - Mathematical benefits
- Not overly game-focused - May require parental supervision
Hooked on Phonics is one of the most downloaded reading apps for kids, and is currently being used by over 5 million children worldwide.
This reading app is for children aged between 3 and 7, so if your child is between preschool and first grade, you can rest assured that the format will be ideal for them.
Included in this app are over 100 ebooks, which your child can build up to reading (hopefully, with enthusiasm!) by taking part in interactive games and lessons. There are also songs and videos to help the learning process along.
Something that makes Hooked on Phonics a particularly amazing app, especially for children who may become easily discouraged, is the virtual award system, which provides positive reinforcement and an incentive to continue learning for fun!
Another thing to bear in mind is that you can use this app across multiple devices, making learning more versatile and accessible. However, some users have reported unexplained log-in failures when using the app on several devices, which may require the help of customer support.
- For ages 3 - 7 - Preschool to 1st grade
- Includes over 100 ebooks - Hours of reading time
- Games and lessons included - Interactive
- Virtual award system - Positive reinforcement
- Multiple device application - Versatile use
- Some reported log-in issues - Customer support may be required
Our final recommendation for today is the Bob Books Reading Magic app, which is actually split into 2 apps: #1 and #2.
This game-based reading app is designed for young children who are right at the beginning of their reading journey. The first app consists of a game scenario that aims to teach 32 new words by working on phonetics through repetition and association.
The second app is designed to teach 50 additional words, so once the first has been completed, there’s still room to progress.
Bob Books Reading Magic has been completed by over 10 million children across the world, and part of the reason why is because it’s such a fun and interactive way to learn.
The format is set out as a game, through which children can learn how to sound out and spell words using phonetic skills.
Thanks to the intuitive drag-and-drop user interface, this app is very easy to use, even for children who are very young. The full-color animation also keeps things engaging for extended periods of time.
With that being said, we would recommend the use of this app combined with parental supervision. This is because the structure of the game allows for trial and error, which can be an ineffective learning strategy if not discouraged through additional support.
- 2 apps available - Room for progression
- Drag-and-drop interface - Easy to use
- Game-based - Interactive and enjoyable
- 82 new words in total - Good starting foundation
- Structure allows for trial and error - May be ineffective without parental guidance
Best Reading Apps for Kids Buying Guide
As we mentioned earlier, choosing the right reading app for your child can be one of the most important decisions you make in terms of their reading development. After all, you want them to get the best head start or support possible.
If you need some extra guidance before you commit to an app, just keep reading! This buyer’s guide is filled with pointers to help you make a choice based on the needs of yourself and your child.
Before you get excited about downloading a new reading app, it’s worth checking which devices and systems it’s compatible with.
Most apps today are compatible with iOS systems, and the majority are also available on Android, which means they can be downloaded to phones and tablets that use this technology.
However, you should also make sure that the app is compatible with the version of iOS you have installed because apps are becoming increasingly incompatible with earlier versions.
While we’re on this subject, it’s definitely worth reading through some user testimonials before you download the app in question.
That’s because some apps come with more bug issues than others, and there may be some download or log-in issues that you should be aware of before signing up.
These issues don’t necessarily mean you should stop considering an app altogether, but it’s worth bearing in mind while you weigh up your options.
It’s also crucial that the app you choose for your child is aimed at the relevant age group. If you choose an app that is aimed either at a lower or higher age range, it’s likely that the content will be completely ineffective in terms of teaching because it is too advanced or not challenging enough.
The good news is that the majority of apps we’ve suggested in today’s article are designed for quite wide age ranges. This means that the content progresses in terms of difficulty so that earlier levels are suitable to younger children, while the later lessons are suited to children with more advanced reading abilities.
Age ranges will usually be specified in the app description so you can get a good idea of whether a particular app will be an appropriate fit for your child’s stage of development.
If your child is currently in school, it’s also worth checking whether a reading app aligns with their current curriculum. This isn’t a necessity, but it can help to ensure that your child doesn’t become confused by trying to learn at 2 separate paces.
Structure and Method
Another important factor to consider is how the app is structured and what methods it uses to teach children to read.
For example, some reading apps for kids lean more into a game-play structure, which can be the most engaging and rewarding way to help children to learn because it feels like fun rather than a chore.
With that being said, it’s often necessary for games, songs, and other more fun learning activities to be supplemented by guided lessons or worksheets. These can be less thrilling, especially for young children, but it’s important to note that these aspects of the learning process can be made interactive and entertaining, too.
Something we highly recommend, especially if you’re looking into apps because you’re at a loss for getting your child interested in reading, is a virtual award system. You can find systems like this incorporated into apps such as Hooked on Phonics, where children can win in-app awards for good progress. This is a healthy and positive way to encourage your child to keep working hard.
One type of app structure that we’d advise caution with is any structure that enables a trial-and-error approach to learning new words. This essentially means a system where children can randomly select answers to questions repeatedly until they get the right answer.
The reason this is a drawback is that it may mean that the child stops trying to engage with the program and instead selects answers at random in an effort to complete lessons faster. This, of course, is counterproductive to real learning.
Now, the presence of such a system doesn’t mean that the app can’t be effective. However, it does mean that you might need to take a more active role in supervising learning sessions through the app, encouraging your child to work through questions and games mentally as they go.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a reading app better than physical books?
If you’re considering downloading a reading app for your child, it’s possible that you’ve been conflicted about whether an app or a physical book is the best choice in terms of facilitating the learning process.
There really is no correct answer to this question, but there are several perspectives from which to approach it.
For one thing, you know your child better than anyone, so you’ll have a good sense of which format is likely to be most engaging for them. If they seem to gravitate naturally towards books in a physical sense, this may be the best option to get them interested in reading.
Alternatively, they may seem more engaged by reading apps, in which case, this is likely to be the optimal method.
Another thing to consider is that reputable reading apps have been developed by educators with the help of existing pedagogical research.
This means that if you don’t feel confident teaching your child yourself, an app might be helpful because the structure will be based on approved and thoroughly-researched teaching methods.