Not all screen time is bad! There are plenty of amazing ways for kids to learn on mobile devices, meaning they’ll always have educational fun on hand. Case in point: reading apps for kids. While some kids practically need to have books pried out of their hands, others struggle to gain skills and maintain interest. Reading apps for kids can help both groups find what they need to succeed.
Some of the reading apps for kids on this list help them learn important skills, while others provide libraries of books for storytime or independent reading. Either way, these apps support reading in a meaningful and engaging way that kids will enjoy. Find your new favorite today!
Best For: Kids 12 and under
Why We Love It: Epic! gives kids unlimited access to an outstanding library of books, videos, quizzes, and more. These are books kids actually want to read, with lots of cool extra features like personalized recommendations and motivational badges and rewards.
Cost: Free for teachers and librarians. For others, free for 30 days, then $7.99 a month. Currently, teachers of schools closed due to COVID-19 can get free remote access for their students by clicking here.
Best For: Anyone who has a library card for a participating library.
Why We Love It: Tired of waiting for your library holds to come in? Try Hoopla! Everything on the app is always available for immediate virtual check-out, and it’s FREE. Hoopla is especially popular for its wide selection of audiobooks, comics, and graphic novels. Plus, it has a dedicated “Kids Mode,” making it easier for everyone to find books they’ll love.
Cost: FREE for anyone with a library card at a participating library.
Available On: Hoopla is available on a variety of devices, including phones, e-readers, and even smart TVs. Find all the links you need here.
Best For: Anyone with a library card for a participating library.
Why We Love It: Most libraries use Overdrive for their e-book and online media lending. If kids have their own library card, they can set up an account. There’s a whole section dedicated to kids, so they can find books just for them.
Available On: Overdrive is available on a wide variety of devices. Get all the links you need here.
Best For: Students of participating schools
Why We Love It: Sora is Overdrive’s lending system just for schools. It allows teachers to assign, monitor, and assess reading. Students get access to the school library’s online catalog, as well as their local library if available.
Cost: Free for students and teachers at participating schools. Schools interested in adding it can learn more here.
Best For: Anyone with a library card for a library with Overdrive
Why We Love It: Libby is another way to access books through Overdrive, with an interface specially designed for mobile devices. You can change the audience preference to Juvenile or Young Adult to limit the offerings kids see, plus there are dedicated guides for kids and Teens.
Best For: Grades 3-5
Why We Love It: This is the kind of reading kids do in school (and on tests), with comprehension questions to ensure they understand what they’ve read. It includes fiction and non-fiction to appeal to all readers. Teachers can use it in the classroom, while parents will find it great for home enrichment or practice.
Cost: The free version offers 12 stories to try, with additional stories available by subscription starting at $2.99 a month.
Best For: Pre-K and early readers
Why We Love It: Older teachers may remember Living Books, which were originally issued on CD-ROM for computers in the 90’s. Today, these same books are available for download as an app. They’re fully interactive: each page is read aloud, then kids can click on the text to hear the individual words again, or anywhere on the page to interact with the characters and other items. These books are a rich environment for individual exploration, but teacher guides are available to help you use them in a classroom setting too.
Cost: Try a free sampler app to see how it works. Each individual book title app is available for purchase for $4.99 each, some in multiple languages.
Available On: Apple App Store, Google Play Store, and Kindle App Store. Find all the links here.
Best For: Kids 12 and under
Why We Love It: This app offers thousands of books, videos, and games for kids, and gives parents lots of control over what kids can use and when they can use it. Teachers are likely to find lots of uses for this vast media library in the classroom, too.
Cost: Single child subscriptions start at $2.99 a month for Prime members. You can also get monthly or annual family plans that include unlimited access for up to 4 children.
Available On: Amazon devices including Kindle, plus Android and iOS devices too. Find all download options here.
Best For: Ages 2-8
Why We Love It: HOMER promises to create a personalized reading program for every child, based on their interests and current skill levels. Membership also includes access to 200+ interactive animated stories, with a whole section dedicated to favorite Sesame Street characters.
Costs: HOMER is FREE for educators. Other users can try it free for 30 days, after which subscriptions start at $7.99 a month.
Best For: Pre-K to grade 3
Why We Love It: If you grew up in the Reading Rainbow era, you’ll love Skybrary! Created by LeVar Burton’s Reading is Fundamental, this app has hundreds of interactive digital books for young readers. It also features virtual field trips led by the man himself, Levar, just like in old Reading Rainbow episodes. Skybrary for Schools adds teacher lesson plans and learning management tools for educators.
Cost: After a one-month free trial, individual Skybrary subscriptions start at $4.99 per month or $39.99 annually. Classroom and school plans are available through Skybrary for Schools.
Best For: Pre-K to grade 4
Why We Love It: Farfaria allows you to customize by reading level for personalized recommendations from their library of thousands of books. Kids can choose to have the books read to them, or read on their own. Farfaria is aligned with Common Core reading standards, too.
Cost: Individual monthly subscriptions start at $4.99. Special pricing is available for teachers and classrooms, starting at $20 per year.
Best For: Grades K-12
Why We Love It: Tales2Go is a subscription audiobook service designed for schools and classrooms. Individual subscriptions are also available. Their catalog has more than 10,000 audiobooks, with plenty of well-known titles and authors. They even have audiobooks in Spanish.
Cost: Classroom annual subscriptions start at $250, with library, building, and district licenses also available. Individual subscriptions start at $29.99 for three months. Schools currently closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak qualify for a special discounted price; learn more here.
Best For: Ages 3-7
Why We Love It: These very low-cost paid apps offer a wide range of fun, interactive games and activities to help kids learn to read. They build skills starting with letter recognition, eventually working toward reading complete sentences.
Cost: Reading Raven costs $1.99 on Android, $2.99 on iOS.
Available On: Apple and Android devices. Get the links you need here.
Best For: Early elementary
Why We Love It: Remember Choose Your Own Adventure books? SwapTales is an app version! Readers swap the words on each page (or not) to create new versions of the story. They also solve puzzles to help Leon along to one of 30 different endings. You can even read in 2-player mode. Readers are already clamoring for more of these engaging tales!
Best For: PreK and early readers
Why We Love It: Phonics is a reliable and proven way to build reading skills. Kids will love these fun games designed to help them learn the 44 phonemes that make up the English language.
Cost: Schools can receive free access here. The app is free to download for individual users, with complete content available for $7.99.
Best For: Ages 5-8
Why We Love It: This app uses speech recognition to listen to a child read, correcting them and helping with the hard words as necessary. The real fun comes when kids race to see how fast they can read! Reading Racer is a really fun way to work on reading fluency.
Available On: Apple App Store
Best For: Ages 2-13
Why We Love It: A placement quiz at the beginning makes sure readers start at the right level. Then, animated interactive lessons use phonics and other concepts to improve reading skills. The program includes books made up only of words covered in completed lessons, ensuring kids meet with success every step of the way.
Cost: $9.99, add up to 3 additional users at $4.99 each. Teachers can receive a 4-week free trial here.
Best For: Early readers
Why We Love It: Kids read the words and sentences on the screen out loud to the cute animated character. Speech recognition technology provides instant assessment and feedback.
Best For: All students K-12
Why We Love It: IXL is a comprehensive learning app for all subjects. They offer reading and language arts practice for every grade level, with activities that are a terrific complement to other learning methods. IXL is ideal for kids that need extra practice outside the classroom.
Cost: A single-subject subscription is $9.99/month; full core subjects subscription $19.99/month. Schools can contact IXL for classroom and district pricing.
Best For: Pre-K to grade 2
Why We Love It: Vooks is dedicated to streaming animated storybooks. The titles are perfect for read-along storytime, plus you can get downloadable teacher resources to enhance the learning experience.
Cost: $4.99/month after 30-day free trial. Teachers can receive their first year free by registering here.
Best For: Grades K-3
Why We Love It: For kids that can’t get enough Fruit Ninja, this app brings that slicing and chopping action to the world of sight words. Adults can customize the word lists and how they’re presented to provide a personalized learning experience.
Available On: Apple App Store
Best For: Pre-K and Elementary
Why We Love It: It’s Dr. Seuss! These are the classic books kids know and love, with all the fun characters and clever rhymes you remember. These reading apps for kids also have extra features like animations, hidden surprises, and audio read-alouds.
Cost: Get the entire treasury for $49.99 for iOS. For Android and Kindle, various collections and individual books are available starting at $2.99.
Best For: Grades K-3
Why We Love It: Starfall’s free online learning tools have been around for a while, providing basic skills to kids everywhere. These easy-to-follow lessons and practice sessions are perfect for kids who need reading reinforcement.
Cost: Starfall is free to use. Membership ($35/Family, Teacher memberships starting at $70) unlocks animated songs and other enhanced content.
Best For: Grades K-5
Why We Love It: Raz-Kids offers more than 400 ebooks with open-book quizzes. Students can listen to books, practice, then record themselves reading so teachers can monitor their progress. Teachers can also set and track assignments through the app.
Cost: Licenses start at $115 per year. Currently, educators of schools closed due to COVID-19 can get FREE individual subscriptions, valid through the end of the school year.
Available On: Raz-Kids is on a variety of devices. Get the links you need here.
Best For: Grades K-5
Why We Love It: Headsprout uses interactive online episodes to teach kids the fundamental reading skills they need. Older students focus on reading comprehension, giving students experience in the kinds of questions they may find on standardized tests. Teachers can set assignments and track progress easily.
Cost: Licenses start at $210 per year. Currently, educators of schools closed due to COVID-19 can get FREE individual subscriptions, valid through the end of the school year.
Available On: Headsprout is available on a variety of devices. Get the links you need here.
Looking for more apps for early learners? Try this roundup of PBS Kids Apps for the classroom and beyond.
How do you use reading apps for kids in the classroom? Come share on the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE group on Facebook.