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By Roberta Munoz
From letter recognition to phonics, pre-literacy skills are critical for raising an early reader. There are hundreds of new educational apps that promote pre-reading skills and give preschoolers and kindergarteners a head start. As a parent, the building blocks of reading success start with you. You should be reading with your child every day—and that can mean going digital.
Embrace the Smart Screen
Should you be worried? Not at all, says children's librarian and early reading specialist Kiera Parrott. "Parents of children need not worry about exposing their children to smartphones, iPads, and apps … With the right tool—the right app in this case—a child can explore reading, early learning concepts, and sensory-rich play."
Here are some of the best reading development apps for preschool through kindergarten to help put your child on the path to reading success.
Kick start your child’s path to reading with Articulation Station. Initially, this app helps kids master the letter sound within a single word, using flashcards and matching games, and then progresses to sentences where the word is either isolated or rotating. The rotating feature resembles a fun arcade game where kids spin the wheel to see the next target word they should incorporate into the sentence.
Starfall Learn to Read
Spelling practice, sight words and sorting letters are only a few of the many early reading activities offered in this all-in-one app. Boasting 15 categories, this app encourages kids to tackle word completion, fill-in-the-letter games, picture hunts and pronunciation guides. Cute video clips and animations are awesome extras that jazz up each section. Every category varies in difficulty in theme, which appeal to a range of kids.
iLearn With Boing: Ocean Adventures
Targeted towards the younger set, this intuitive, animated app allows kids to practice language skills through game-playing fun. Players choose from one of three sections to play underwater themed games with Boing, the adorable alien guide. Clear audio instructions make gameplay possible for pre-readers, while modern graphics and silly sentences hold kids’ attention (and tickle their funny bones) as they build out new skills.
Meet the reading raven, a nerd of a bird who guides kids through the basics of reading in this charming app. The app has five separate sections that cover a comprehensive range of beginning reading skills like letter recognition, word matching, letter tracing, sight words—and more! There's no pressure in this cute, quiet tool for phonics and foundational reading, making it perfect for pre-readers who may struggle with foundational skills.
Leo's Pad: Preschool Kids Learning Series
Young Leonardo da Vinci and Galileo inspire kids to reach new heights of brilliance and originality as they tell the story of their friendship. The interactive "appisode" is a story that's stuffed with learning activities. The graphics are stunning, and gameplay is adaptive. Since it grows with each child, there’s less of a chance little learners will tire of this engaging interactive tool.
Sight Words List – Learn to Read Flash Cards & Games
While kindergarten kids generally need to master common high-frequency words, there are always some children who've been reading for a while and others who are still studying the basics.
This extremely intuitive app allows full customization, so you can start from scratch to make specific lists—or, tackle the premade lists of grade-appropriate words, and then add and delete words to your liking.
Dr. Seuss’ ABC
Zizzer-zazzer-zuzz! Dr. Seuss is back with a bang in this interactive story. This app has three settings to enjoy the story—Read to Me, Read it Myself, Auto Play—and all modes allow for loads of interactive fun. Touch individual words or letters to hear them sounded out or tap on pictures and see the corresponding word pop up and hear it spoken out loud as many times as you want.
With three different learning skills rolled into one app, PocketPhonics makes the difficult process of learning letters and their sounds entertaining and fun.
Beginning readers start off with simple but effective tracing practice that can be set at three different levels of difficulty to encourage accuracy. Next is phonic practice as letters that have been traced are picked by sound and put together to form sight words.