Whether your  kids are figuring out how to sound out words for the first time, or you have older grade-schoolers who just might choose an educational app over a game from time to time if it’s fun enough, educational apps can certainly be a big help in getting kids excited to read. So I’ve put together my list of 11 of the best reading apps for kids as part of our 2014 back-to-school tech guide. I culled it down to apps that are smart, helpful, entertaining, and well-designed, as all educational apps should be. Hope they help your kids get excited about reading as much as they’ve helped mine.


Best Reading Apps for Preschoolers and Kindergarteners


Best reading apps for kids: Endless Reader app for preschoolers

Endless Reader app

We first fell in love with Endless Alphabet and when Endless Reader came out, we knew it would be another hit. Not only do kids get to identify letters to spell words, but then those words form into sentences to bring it full circle. I like that they emphasize the sight words like look, dog, up that complement what kids are learning in Kindergarten. The cute monsters are a fun bonus too and will give kids a giggle while they’re reading. (Available on iTunes for free, but with only six words; all letters can be unlocked for $4.99)


Best reading apps for kids: Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read app

Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read app

Disregard the As Seen on TV part of their marketing spiel and you actually have a really great app from Hooked on Phonics for kids learning to read. Following the tenets of the popular phonics program, this app is more like a lesson program that takes kids through the steps for becoming independent readers. The app comes with one free unit and ebook, which guides kids through interactive activities and provides rewards and achievements along the way. You’ll probably want more, but it’s a good way to see if this one is right for you. (Available on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Appstore for free; individual books and units can be purchased in-app) 



Best reading apps for kids: Bob's Books Reading Magic apps for first readers

Bob’s Books Reading Magic apps

Bob’s Books is another acclaimed reading program that made it to the digital screen, and we’ve been recommending it for a while now. While the app doesn’t feature the entire program in digital form, it offers similar reading concepts, exercises, of course, the adorable illustrations that kids have come to love. The first app in the series, Reading Magic #1 app , offers young readers 12 cute scenes featuring 50 words, as well as phonic sounds and activities to reinforce those early reading skills. If your kid has already made it through them check out Reading Magic #2  (Available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Appstore, NOOK and Nabi Store for $3.99)



Best reading apps for kids: Sesame Street S'Mores app for preschoolers

Sesame Street S’More app

It’s no surprise that this new iOS app tops the charts in the preschool category on iTunes. Much more than a book, the Sesame Street S’More app is a digital magazine that features six issues a year for the earliest readers. Each issue is loaded with educational content, reading activities, aut0-narrated stories and educational lessons from Elmo, Big Bird and Cookie Monster. Your kids may have heard of them? A for awesome. (Available on iTunes for $3.99/issue or $2.99 bi-monthly)


Best Reading Apps for Early Elementary Kids


Best reading apps for kids: Avokiddo ABC Ride app

Avokiddo ABC Ride app

While yes, it’s an alphabet app, this beautifully designed app will teach kids new words and sentences that go way beyond A for apple, B for banana which is why I recommend it for kids who are just beyond the preschool basics. You’ll find more sophisticated words and phrases like acquire the apricots, jiggle on the jelly and recreate the red robot,  making it a fantastic way to challenge your kids a little further. In addition to the 26 interactive countryside scenes that accompany each letter, kids can engage in activities with Beck and Bo, the main characters of the app (who you might recognize from our roundup of the best preschool apps), to alliterate their way through the ABCs. (Available on iTunesGoogle Play and Amazon Appstore for $2.99)


Best reading apps for kids: MeeGenius

MeeGenius app

While your kids are on this reading kick, you can fuel their interests by providing them with an entire library of books at their fingertips. MeeGenius is a highly-awarded app that offers a digital library of more that 800 classics, new releases and everything else in between. The app is free to download and it comes with five books. You can purchase additional titles individually or subscribe to have access to all the books in the collection. Just remember to turn off those push notifications or you’ll get inundated. And uh, we’d be remiss if we didn’t admit that we are laughing really hard at a book called Silly Daddy and the Big Weed, which hopefully isn’t what it sounds like to us. (Available on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Appstore, Windows and NOOK for free; free version comes with five books)


Best reading apps for kids: Montessori Crosswords app

Montessori Crosswords app 

By early elementary, kids are reading well enough to start introducing the concept of a crossword puzzle to keep the learning going in a more gamified way. The Montessori Crosswords app not only reinforces how words are spelled visually, but adds audio accompaniment so kids can hear the exact phonetic sound for each letter. Super helpful when they have to navigate the intricacies of the human language and decipher between things like an ay or an ah sound for the letter A. (Available on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Appstore for $2.99)


Best Reading Apps for Upper Elementary Kids

Best reading apps for older kids: iTooch 5th Grade Learning Arts reading app is aligned with Common Core

iTooch 5 th Grade Language Arts App (with other grades available as well)

With proper grammar and reading comprehension becoming even more essential with Common Core Standards, it’s nice to have found a good app  to help kids understand the rules of the language a bit better. The  iTooch series of apps is an engaging way to reinforce important grammar concepts, vocabulary and spelling lessons outside of the classroom–and it’s comprehensive too. There are more than 1,000 activities all based on Common Core Standards, complete with explanations of each answer, making it a really valuable supplemental learning tool. And the achievements that kids can unlock are a nice added motivation for moving through the lessons. (Available on iTunes, Google Play and Windows for free; lessons can be purchased in-app – and also available for middle school students)


Best reading apps for older kids: Duh! book app is full of fun encyclopedic facts

Duh! books app

For strong readers who are beyond story books and want to learn about real world things, the Duh! books app is a perfect way to get kids reading. Anyone curious about volcanoes, horses, cats, Brazil, knights and castles, the life, the Universe, and everything: look no further than these textbook-like guides filled with educational content and illustrations. We look forward to seeing even more topics covered, but the ones in the app right now should keep kids occupied just fine. (Available on iTunes for $3.99 each)


Best reading apps for older kids: News-o-matic keeps them up on current events in a fun way

News-o-matic app

Speaking of the real world, News-o-matic is a super way for kids to brush up on current events in an age-appropriate way. Covering everything from worldly happenings to geography to sports and science stories, this app is a great way for kids to learn about what’s going on here and abroad. It’s also a great conversation starter for the dinner table–the 21st century digital version of having a kid’s version of news magazines delivered in school each week.  (Available on iTunes; free trial comes with 10 editions, additional are available as in-app purchases; school edition on Google Play for $9.99)

Best reading apps for older kids: National Geographic Weird But True

National Geographic Weird-But-True app

It’s not a new app, but we still guarantee that kids will be reading with it, albeit reading very weird facts. Don’t be surprised if after you download this, your kids will be informing you that you can clean the toilet with Gatorade, or that sticking raw bacon in your nose can stop it from bleeding. (Whaaat?) This is one app to keep even reluctant readers laughing, ewwwing or saying whoa as they flip through the 900+ must-read facts. And then, tell you them over and over again. (Available on iTunes for free)


More from our 2014 Back to School Tech Guide 
10 of the best organizational apps for parents
16 best math apps for kids of all ages
12 of the best educational apps for preschoolers
16 best science apps for kids of all ages