Pre-K

Growing Reader

The Best Reading Apps for
4- to 8-Year-Olds

by Melissa Taylor

Photo credit: JGI/Jamie Grill, Blend Images/Getty Images

No, they’re not a waste of time. Not the good ones, anyway. Used judiciously, and as a complement to physical books, good reading apps can help kids learn to read and practice reading. And they’re convenient for busy families who want to encourage reading engagement on the go.

“The advantage of using a device for reading is that it easily fits into modern families’ busy schedules so kids can read anywhere,” explains Beth Chang of iGameMom.

There are many reading apps out there, though, and they’re not all created equal. We cut through the noise to find you the best reading apps for your kids.

  • Learning to Read Apps

  • Learning to read apps should include phonics, sight words, as well as reading words and sentences.

  • 1. Starfall Learn to Read

    The popular Starfall curriculum starts with the alphabet in Learn to Read and continues with vowel sounds and comprehension in two other Starfall apps: It’s Fun to Read and I’m Reading. iOS  and Android 

  • 2. Homer

    This top-rated, research-backed app motivates kids ages 2 to 8 to love reading by building on what they already know and tapping into the topics that most interest them. iOS and Web

  • 3. Bob Books Reading Magic

    Two apps, Reading Magic  and Reading Magic 2, help children learn to read with phonics-based books and games. iOS and  Android

  • 4. Hooked on Phonics

    Based on the sequential Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read program, these apps offer a library of books rated for difficulty as well as lessons for beginning readers learning to read. iOS and Android

  • 5. Reading Eggs

    Reading Eggs has 120 game-like lessons for children learning to read. iOS and Android

  • 6. Reading Raven

    The interactive reading games in Reading Raven cover a phonics-based reading curriculum starting with recognizing letters and moving to identifying words, reading words, and reading sentences. iOS only

  • Practice Reading Apps

  • There are a lot of individual story apps, but economically it’s to your advantage to use an app with storybooks within it. Generally these subscriptions are in the $10-a-month range. Also, unlike single story apps, most of these reading apps show the reading levels so you know your child is reading a just-right book.

  • 1. MeeGenius

    MeeGenius offers children over 700 interactive eBooks including some familiar books with “Sesame Street” characters. iOS and Android

  • 2. Epic! Books for Kids

    The thousands of eBooks available with Epic! are popular titles from top publishers such as Scaredy Squirrel, Batman vs. Catwoman, and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Reading logs, personalization, and rewards are offered to support developing readers. iOS and Android

  • 3. FarFaria

    Download one free story daily or subscribe for unlimited stories in the FarFaria app. All books are leveled. Kids can read to themselves or choose the read-to-me option. iOS and Android

  • 4. SNAP Learning

    Aligned with Common Core, SNAP Learning has a library of 500 leveled reading K-12 books in English and Spanish including paired fiction and nonfiction thematic books and guided reading lessons. Contact SNAP Learning for download information.

  • 5. Reading Rainbow

    A subscription-based eBook library of books with topics such as animals, family, friends, science, music, and space.  iOS and Android

Reading on a device is so much better than playing mindless games. Plus, books on your mobile or table make this Chinese proverb even truer: A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket.