6 iPhone, iPad, iTouch Apps for Teaching Children How to Read

by Natalie

I remember the days of elementary school when I spent hours upon hours tracing over letters with a pencil, erasing, and trying again to turn in a perfect sheet of homework. My mom fashioned flashcards out of blank index cards that we reviewed nightly, and it worked. I became a proficient reader and speller, but I don’t remember the learning process being exactly thrilling. Today’s technology of the iPhone allows children the opportunity to learn letters and phonics, spelling, reading, in a far more entertaining way than I recall learning them!

Price:$0.99, free Lite version available

This phonics app plays a voice recorded sound and directs children to select the corresponding letter by touching it from a group of about eight choices. Upon selection of the right letter, children receive a thumbs up and move onto another sound to eventually create a word. With high quality voice recordings and bright colors, the product is designed to help children associate sounds with letters and seems best suited for pre-school to kindergarten aged kids. As an added bonus, the app comes with a “Parent Zone”, locked by a multiplication question, that links parents to additional tools to help teach young ones to read.


Price: Free
There’s not much associated with pre-school age knowledge that this app doesn’t cover! A variety of games within the app help children with phonics, writing, the alphabet as well as color, animal and shape identification. Multiple children can play with the app and track their progress by setting up a simple profile that will identify them in the opening screen with the character of their choice. I think the coolest part of this app, however, is the tracing game. After choosing from letters or numbers, your child traces the character with their finger. As they finish the tracing, a voice recording makes the sound of the letter.

Learn to Read!
Price: $1.99

Although this app is advertised to be suitable for children up to the second grade, it is perhaps best used by children in the Kindergarten age group. Flashcards on the screen show the user a word as a voice recording pronounces the word. With multiple levels of words available, the app offers variety to challenge your child with, but really only offers the interactive value of a normal set of flashcards. The positive side to that, however, is the flashcards are easily portable and may offer time to practice sight words at times you normally wouldn’t; like in the car or at a restaurant!


Reading For Kids: 100 Ways to Encourage Your Child to Read
Price: Free

Parents have too much to think about. Between everyday responsibilities it’s not always easy to come up with creative ways to help encourage kids to read. This app offers one hundred ways for parents to help encourage their children to become life-long readers. Ideas range from spurring on new readers by making a special trip to get their first library card, to inspiring teens by encouraging them to comment on news websites and blogs. I found the ideas in this app are creative, easy to execute and realistic. Whether you’re a new parent or in the midst of teen angst, this app may offer a little fresh perspective on getting young noses into a book.


ABC Phonics Animals
Price: $1.99/ Free lite version

Phonics are brought to life in this app through association with animals. In the flashcard section, kids are presented with a cartoon animation of an animal and the spelling of the animal below. As a voice recording says the sound of each letter, children touch the correct letter. Animal match asks kids to identify a cartoon animal with the proper name from three options. Although some animals are a little tough to distinguish, the cute faces are fun to guess! Finally, Balloon Pop prompts kids to touch a letter that is spoken and then used in the name of an animal. Balloons pop with joy as the right selection is made. This is an app probably best used with headphones, as the carnival-like background music could quickly become a little disruptive for parents.

PocketWally Sight Words
Price: $0.99

PocketWally is a cute, easy-to-use app that assists children in learning commonly used English words by sight. A word appears in a brightly colored, child-appealing screen and is spoken by a voice recording. Scroll to the right and another screen appears with the word in a sentence. As the sentence is spoken, children simply touch the word they just learned and are prompted with a “good job” or “try again”. The 220 words included in this app are commonly taught in classrooms and include sounds that can be challenging twisters for little tongues.