Most parents would like to limit screen time. But there are times when mobile devices make life, for you and your kid, infinitely more bearable: waiting rooms, long flights, sick days, even dinner prep.  If you are going to allow for some screen time in your child’s day why not at least make it educational and fun? If the apps are a nice enough blend of the two your child might not even realize the fun they are having is actually helping them learn to read.

Happy child staring tablet.I love to read and want to make sure my son develops a love of reading too. In addition to reading to him each night from birth, over the years, we tried a slew of different reading apps. Below are some of my family’s favorite educational apps for learning to read. These learning to read apps worked for us for several reasons:

  • First, because my son returned to them again and again without necessarily being asked to pick them over something of more dubious value. (Angry Birds, I’m looking at you).
  • Second, theses apps managed to be engaging for all the adults that supervised or played along.
  • Third, we could see our son making progress as he advanced up in different levels within the apps learning sight words, letter combinations, etc. all while gaining confidence and speed.

 Learning to Read Apps: Learn With Homer


Learn with Homer combines a systematic phonics based program with creative expression and emphasizes cultivating a love of learning. In addition to traditional phonics games, this visually rich app incorporates drawing, voice recording, stories, songs, even poetry. Developed by teachers and literacy experts, based on research by Stanford and Harvard professors this app has over 1000 lessons available in one spot.

Why we loved it: This is easily the most comprehensive of the three apps. My son adored the variety of activities and the fantastic graphics particularly as he got more proficient at his reading skills. I liked the option to get progress reports sent to me so I didn’t have to hover over him to see how he was doing. Easy to navigate, the breadth and depth the content was amazing with ‘read to me’ stories as well as non-fiction.  We also liked that kids are encouraged to express their reactions to the lessons and content reinforcing and extending lessons. The variety and opportunity for creativity kept my son engaged in a way that other apps could not as his skills progressed. When I asked him which app was his favorite learn to read app he answered Learn with Homer without hesitation, asserting that it was his “#1 Favorite.”

Learning to Read Apps: Endless Reader

Endless Reader © 2013 Originator Inc.

This app focuses on learning sight words. These are some of the most commonly used words and are important to learn to gain reading competence. Many of these words have unusual spelling and can’t be learned or sounded out using phonics.

Why we loved it: Part cartoon part educational app, each word features a puzzle with letters that come alive and cute monsters that illustrate the meaning of the word. First, the child sees and hears the word. Then the friendly monsters mess up the letters. The player then drags and drops letters fix things as they hear the sound each letter makes. Applause and confetti rain down when the match is complete. Lastly, the child sees the word in a sentence. The sentence is then read out loud and the action is illustrated the with the same silly monsters. The word “ball” is actually bounces and makes a boing-type noise after it is created. Then two monsters illustrate bouncing a ball to each other. Although limited in scope this was a great way to make learning sight words fun.

Learning to Read Apps: Reading Raven

reading raven

Reading raven is a phonics based program that brings kids all the way through pre-reading skills to reading short sentences. Visuals are bright and engaging. Lessons are delivered in small manageable bits. Kids are rewarded for achievements with virtual stickers they can assemble on shelves.


Why we loved it: The engaging graphics and the wide variety of different skills Reading Raven covers kept our son engaged and eager to progress to learn more. He loved selecting his achievement stickers and was proud to show off and organize the array of stickers he had accumulated. We also liked that it included some tracing of letters and later words so that, that important portion of the reading and writing connection wasn’t missed.

What are your favorite reading apps? Please share your suggestions in the comments so we can all benefit!


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