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The 6 Best Reading Apps for Budding Bookworms

Whether your child is showing an early interest in reading or you're looking for ways to encourage a hesitant reader, smartphone and iPad apps are an excellent way to supplement the reading skills they're being taught at school. Here are the best reading apps for kids, backed by experts.

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“Homer is a phonics, research-based reading app,” said Deb Finger, lower school technology coach at Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. “Kids can make their way through Pickle Wickle Park with their Wickle, a cute little customizable character, earning points for reading, playing educational games, listening to books, and more.” Available only for iPhones, Homer is one of the highest rated reading apps for kids. Downloading the app is free, but parents should know that much of the app is unavailable without making in-app purchases.

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Hooked on Phonics

Most parents are familiar with Hooked on Phonics, either because their parents used the program or because we grew up watching their commercials on TV. Children can learn the basics of reading through the interactive learning modules. The learn-to-read program is now available as one of the best reading apps for kids on both Android and iPhone devices. The app is free to download, but there are in-app purchases that have to be made to gain full access to the app. Try these activities to improve your child’s fine motor skills.

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Reading Rainbow

Another classic educational resource from the past is now available as a smart phone app. On Reading Rainbow, users can explore a library of interactive digital books and videos, all chosen with the purpose of cultivating a love of reading in young children.This app is available for free on iPhone, Kindle, and Android devices.

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Starfall Learn to Read

Using 15 digital mini-books, Starfall Learn to Read teaches children basic reading skills with each book focusing on a specific vowel. The app also has videos and additional activities to further enrich the user’s experience. Good news: Starfall is also one of the highest rated free apps for kids and it is available for Kindle, Android, and iPhone devices.

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“Although there is no real replacement for parents and teachers reading with children to improve their skills, apps can be a great supplement,” said Lina Kumon, former elementary teacher and center director for the Kumon Center in Anaheim Hills. “I recommend ‘Kumon Uppercase ABC’s – Learn to Trace Letters’. It is a very simple app where children can learn to write their letters while recognizing the phonetic sound of each letter.” It’s designed specifically for the iPad and costs $3.99.

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Epic! is a library for elementary students through age 12,” says Deb Finger. “They call themselves ‘the Netflix of books’ and I would have to agree. The books are all popular trade fiction and nonfiction books and as children read, they receive personalized recommendations based on what books they’ve read. Also, the app provides ‘read-to-me’ books, leveled readers, as well as books of all genres.” Epic! is one of the best reading apps for kids for students who are ready to start tackling books during their free time. For $4.99 a month, parents can download unlimited books.