10 Free Learn to Read iPhone and iPad Apps for Kids
While I limit my kids' screen time, a number of promising studies show that interactive apps on tablets are different from the more passive viewing of television. Tablet apps have been especially useful in helping children learn to read. We have a small number of free iOS apps for the iPhone or iPad that have helped my kids transition from pre-reader, to emergent reader, to independent reader.
Learning Touch Sampler (iPhone and iPad)
This drag and drop spelling app offers plenty of options even in the free version. You can have the words get progressively longer, appear in alphabetical order, or show up in a randomized order. Other options include spelling the word with letter names or phonics, setting maximum word length, requiring the child to spell the word in order from left to write, using lower or uppercase letters, providing letter hints, and more.Bonus: In addition to English, you can set the language for Spanish, German, Japanese, or French
Bob Books Reading Magic Lite (iPhone and iPad)
Children learn to spell words in context, using pages from the popular Bob Books. There are four settings (drag and drop to match, learn left-to-right order, spell without hints, and pick from letters to spell) that take kids from pre-reading to emergent reader. We enjoyed this one so much we eventually purchased Bob Books Reading Magic 1 and 2.
Alphabet Car Lite (iPhone and iPad)
Kids twist and turn the device to have their bus "run over" letters to spell simple words. The lite version allows play on two Levels and four stages, providing a decent introduction to the game.
Bubble Rhyme for Kids to Learn (iPhone and iPad)
This game has a simple but useful premise: just tap the word that rhymes with the first word. Rhyming words boosts reading fluency for emerging readers.
Phonics Tic Tac Toe (iPhone and iPad)
Kids solve phonics puzzles to earn squares in a game of tic tac toe. This offering is a little more advanced, including blends, beginning and ending sounds, and more, helping children make the leap from emerging readers to independent readers.
Learn to Read with Homer (iPad)
Homer is one of the most complete learn-to-read apps with substantial offerings available for free. The app comes with 18 learn to read lessons and stories, 12 discover the world lessons, and more. Additional content is available for purchase. Lessons progress from sounds and letters, to words, and then sentences. Instruction includes sight words, punctuation, blending, spelling, and phonemes. Parent tracking and clear connections to the "real world" are the highlights of this app.
Bookster (iPhone and iPad)
Bookster is one of many free storybook reading apps available on iOS. CHildren can have each page read to them or highlight individual words. What sets Bookster apart is the ability for children to record their own narration of the story. A limited number of books are provided for free. Additional books are available for purchase.
Disney Storytime (iPhone and iPad)
Disney is the ultimate storyteller of our generation and kids will enjoy reading familiar favorites. This app also allows you to record custom narration. The child can read themselves or have the story read to them but they cannot touch individual words to hear those read. Three books are provided for free with additional books available for purchase.
Reading Rainbow (iPad)
Reading Rainbow is one of the most powerful reading apps offered to date with easy selection by interest and level, a parent dashboard, a reward system, and interactive activities. National Geographic Kids has teamed up with Reading Rainbow to provide even more great content. Up to five children may have accounts on the same device. Five books and many introductory "field trip" videos are provided free but to access more content, there is a monthly subscription fee (currently $10 a month or $30 for six months).
Scribble My Story (iPad)
Few things encourage children to learn to read like writing their own story. With Scribble My Story, the free, junior version of Scribble Press, kids can customized six included story packs or create one blank, completely open-ended story and share with parents. Another 12 content packs may be purchased to extend the app.