From fairytales to Harry Potter, you've tried everything to foster a love of books in your reluctant reader, but he still prefers his Wii to curling up with a childhood classic.
It's time to throw your old motivational tactics out the window. Today's technology brings together the fun of video games with the old-fashioned appeal of books. Reading apps for kids offer up interactive features like puzzles, games and video that can make even your little gamer excited about the library. But with thousands of apps on the market, how do you know which one to choose for your child? Check out our picks that appeal to every learning style.
- Picturebook (free, ages 4+) If your kid's bored by other people's stories, why not encourage him to write his own? With Picturebook, your budding writer creates his own book from start to finish, typing a tale and choosing pictures to accompany his story. Got writer's block? Start small by helping him create a picture book, using the app's wide selection of images, or adding your own for a small fee.
- Reading Rainbow (free - $29.99, ages 3-9) This blast from the past is brought back to life with hundreds of e-books, video field trips, and interactive activities to keep your child engaged. Your kid can read each story himself, or follow along as the words are read aloud. Sticker rewards motivate him to keep moving through the interactive library, while a customized dashboard allows you to track his progress.
- Bob Books #1: Reading Magic ($1.99, ages 4+) If your book-shy kid avoids reading because he finds it too difficult, try introducing a bit of reading magic. This first entry in the award-winning Bob Books series is perfect for new readers: the app slowly introduces new letter sounds within simple and colorful stories that are designed to fit short-attention spans.
- Reading For Kids: 100 Ways to Encourage Your Child to Read (free, ages 4+) Your kid isn't the only one who should be checking these apps out. With Reading for Kids' 100 ideas and suggestions, you're bound to find an activity that will suit your reluctant reader. From designing bookmarks to kid-friendly websites full of educational fun, your child will be falling in love with reading in no time.
- I'm in it! ($1.99, ages 4+) Spice up the story by adding a familiar character—your child! Jam-packed with cool customizable details, each book allows you to personalize the name and appearance of the main character. Imagine the look of surprise and delight on your child's face as he realizes that he is the star of the story!
- Miss Spider's Bedtime Story (free, ages 4+) There's one thing you can be pretty sure your kid hates more than reading—going to bed! Encourage both with Miss Spider's Bedtime Story, an app that combines bedtime stories with games and puzzles. The mix of activities manages to sneak in plenty of reading but still has the feel of a game, something both you and your child can appreciate.
- Learn Elementary Sight Words ($0.99, ages 4+) There's no question about it, English is confusing. How do you explain to your kindergartener that "cat" and "circus" start with the same letter, but "can" and "kangaroo" don't? Help him learn those tricky sight words with this app that grows with your child. 400 sight words are divided by grade level and are accompanied by graphics and silly sound effects.
- PlayTales ($0.99 - $2.99, ages 1-11) While the simple pleasures of a good book will never go out of style, Playtales offers up tons of amusing features that your standard library simply can't compete with. Each book is full of singing, narration, animation, and interactive games that will ensure reading never gets boring.
- The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore ($4.99, ages 4+) This highly-rated app was originally a movie that celebrated the love of reading. Now you can bring that same spirit to your kid in the form of this interactive story. Each page has a hidden surprise—which might take several reads to find—but with all of the gorgeous animation, you'll love reading the story again and again.
- Reading Eggs: Eggy 100 (free, ages 4+) Inject some playfulness into your kid's reading practice with a cast of cuddly animal friends. Based on the actual reading system used in schools, Reading Eggs is designed to help the younger set study sight words, but the funky farmyard settings and animal teachers make each activity feel more like a game than a homework assignment. This app is also one of the few reading apps for kids that allows you to choose between U.S., U.K. or Australian accents, so you can be sure the words are pronounced the way your child is familiar with.
But one final warning: as your child's interest increases, your only problem might be getting your phone back!