Swipe, Tap, And Interact: A Reading Apps Roundup

Some children enjoy turning the pages of a traditional book or scouring the newspaper for the latest sports news or comics. Yet others find pleasure from playing, swiping, tapping, and interacting with iPads and other devices. One of the beautiful things about living in such a technology-centered world is that these two activities continue to fuse together. Rather than giving your child the black-and-white option of traditional versus tech, why not infuse both by engaging them in fun, colorful, engaging apps for building their reading skills? Here are some of my favorites:

Montessori Crosswords

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This app helps students develop their decoding, spelling, and writing skills by teaching them to build words with different phonics patterns. Students start by building basic CVC (consonant-vowel-consonant) words, then move into words with blends, digraphs, silent e, vowel teams, and other combinations. Students are initially given a picture (like “bag” or “kid”) and are asked to drag letters from the alphabet at the bottom of the screen to spell the word displayed. Later, students spell words following specific phonics patterns in the form of crosswords. Students can also choose themes for the activities, like animals, food, clothes, etc.

Short Vowel Word Study

This is a great app for reinforcing basic word decoding at a Kindergarten/1st grade level. The app contains three main sections: word families, short vowels, and longer words. The first game is “Sort It,” where the child must sort a word into its proper vowel category; i, u, or a. In the “Find It” game‎, the child must find the “oddball” word that doesn’t belong in the same vowel family, and drag it to the bottom of the screen. The “Spell It” game reinforces spelling by displaying an image (like hat) and the child must drag letters to spell the word. The “Write It” game teaches students to trace and then independently write words. Other related fun and engaging reading games are also integrated into this app.


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This app is a great one for building reading, spelling, writing, and phonemic awareness skills. It includes four games, each led by a different character: Alpha Pig, Princess Pesto, Wonder Red, and Super Why. In the Alpha Pig game, students find letters on a path to form different words. ‎In the Princess Pesto game, students practice writing letters to form words that are modeled first by Princess Pesto’s magic wand. In Wonder Red’s game, students identify rhyming words, and in Super Why’s game, students build their reading comprehension skills by identifying words that complete sentences in a given story.

Interactive Storybooks

For a wide selection of interactive, digital story books,MeeGenius is a great app that provides access to more than 700 children’s e-books for children up to age 8, which are accessible on iOS, Android, Windows 8, Amazon, Nook, and online.

Through the Princess and the Pea interactive story app, students either practice reading the Princess and the Pea or listen as the story is read aloud to them, reinforcing auditory comprehension, auditory processing, and listening skills. They can also play interactive games related to the story that are contained within the app, such as matching pictures, completing puzzles, and filling in missing items to complete a picture, all of which reinforce early learning skills.

Nursery Rhymes with Story Time

For younger children (ages 5 and younger), this app is great for building phonemic awareness and early reading skills. The app presents classic rhymes, such as Humpty Dumpty, Three Blind Mice, Jack and Jill, and others, in an interactive, playful format. While listening to the rhymes, children can “play” with the images. For example, when listening to Jack and Jill, children can drag a bucket of water up a well and watch flying fish and bubbles burst out of the water. The interactive illustrations make listening to rhymes and building core phonemic awareness skills great fun for children.

Encourage your child to use these apps and watch the colorful illustrations, energetic animations, and bursting colors turn reading into sheer excitement and joy.

Dr. Emily Levy is the founder of EBL Coaching, a tutoring program that specializes in one-on-one home and on-site instruction for students in grades preK-12 in NYC and NJ. She is also the author of Strategies for Study Success, a study skills workbooks series emphasizing test taking, note taking, reading comprehension, writing, and summarizing strategies, and the Flags and Stars Orton Gillingham student workbook series. These workbooks are currently used at schools nationwide.

Dear Dr. Levy, My son received an excellent report card. I can’t say enough good things about his EBL tutor. She has done a tremendous job helping him improve his reading and writing skills. Most importantly, she is wise and kind. She is always patient with him. Because of his tutor, my son writes with much more ease.
– Parent