Best Free Reading Apps for Kids

Updated on October 11, 2018
EdTecher profile image

Heidi Reina, M.S., Ed, is an educational technology integrator and former teacher, reviewing free educational websites and apps.

Image courtesy of Marcus Kwan / CC BY-SA 2.0
Image courtesy of Marcus Kwan / CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

Six Apps for New Reader Fun

These free reading apps for kids make it a joy to get your children engaged in reading. I see how their captivating illustrations, graphics, and games draw beginning readers into a story. Children interact with letters, words, and illustrations in ways that aren't possible with print on paper. Some of the apps include read-along stories, which are a fantastic tool to help kids develop fluency.

Where to Get These Reading Apps

StoryKit app
StoryKit app

StoryKit - Reading & Writing

iPad iPhone, iPod Touch

Grades 1-4

The StoryKit app has four beautifully illustrated classic stories for young readers to use as a launching point for their own creative writing skills.

After reading the books, kids can alter the stories to fit their own narratives, or provide their own illustrations and pics. The app is a favorite of many classroom teachers, as well as children, because of its versatility.

Kid Mode Reading App
Kid Mode Reading App

Kid Mode: Play + Learn - Multiple reading skills

Android, Kindle Fire

Grades PreK-3

Kid Mode: Play + Learn is an all-inclusive award-winning app designed for use by children from age 2-8. Familiar cartoon characters engage kids in games to help them learn the alphabet, and basic reading skills. Characters from PBS Kids, Disney, Thomas the Train, Teletubbies, Blues Clues and Winnie the Pooh help to keep the kids engaged and the learning fun. This app has lots of great activities for math skills too!

Getting Started with Kid Mode

Chicktionary app
Chicktionary app

Chicktionary Lite - Spelling and Vocabulary

iPad, Android

Grades 2-12

Chicktionary for iPad is an award-winning app to help your children hone their spelling skills. Make as many words as you can from the seven letters on the chickens. Clucking chickens encourage you, and squawk when you make a mistake. This free version has 12 games. If you get stuck making words, give your device a shake to shuffle the hens. The Android version is available on the Android Market.

ABC Letter Tracing app
ABC Letter Tracing app

ABC Letter Tracing - Alphabet

iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch


The ABC Letter Tracing app is a colorful engaging game to help your young ones learn to recognize and write the alphabet. Each upper and lowercase letter has an accompanying picture representing its sound. And a gentle encouraging voice guides your children along as they trace the letters.

Sight Words List app
Sight Words List app

Sight Words List - Vocabulary

iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch

Grades K-2

Your child's teacher gives every beginning reader a list of "sight" or "Dolch" words to memorize and recall instantly when they see them. The Sight Words List app eases the task of learning to read those first frequently words. This app has 315 sight words broken down by age. You can select the words you want your child to learn and record them with your own voice. Create your own word lists as your child's skills improve.

ICDL Free Books for Children app
ICDL Free Books for Children app

ICDL Books for Children - Free Books

iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch

Grades K-5

The International Children's Digital Library offers a collection of thousands of free picture books from more than 60 countries on their ICDL Free Books app. The ICDL Foundation's goal is help young readers become better world citizens by introducing them to stories and cultures from dozens of countries.

Your Library's Book App

It's often overlooked in our digital world. But most local libraries now have ebooks. And they each have their own flavor of library app you use to "check out" ebooks for you and your kids. Among the most popular apps used by libraries are OverDrive, Libby (from OverDrive), Hoopla, EBSCO eBooks, and RBdigital (for magazines).

So go to your library's website and see which app to download... and don't forget your library card!

How One Library's OverDrive App Works

Starfall Learn to Read app - for the Kindle Fire

Starfall Learn To Read
Starfall Learn To Read

This Kindle Fire app is now free!. Starfall online reading games have been very popular with children and parents for years.

Zac the Rat provides tons of fun activities for beginning readers in this Android and Kindle fire app. The animations, movies and interactive help kids learn to blend sounds, identify letters, and read beginning reader stories.


More Free Reading Apps

Free epub children's picture books

Lists some of the best free classic ebooks available from Project Gutenburg.

Young Readers EPUB ebooks for free download |

100 Young Readers books: Both fiction and non-fiction written for children and teenagers. Read on your Apple iPad, Nook, Kobo, iPhone and others. All are public domain and include classic titles such as Pinnochio, Little Women, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Secret Garden.

Word Domino Free | Android

Designed with a speech therapist, this fun letter game helps children on their vocabulary and their reading skills.

A to Z - Mrs. Owl's Learning Tree - Free | Android

Learn the alphabet and phonetic letter sounds with the help of Mrs. Owl. Beautiful illustrations and sound effects help to focus children's attention. This free version includes A-Z and word recognition quizzes.

Colorpad A-Z | Android

This coloring book app helps PreK and K children learn their alphabet while they express their creativity. It includes audio pronunciations of each letter.

Preschool All Words 3 Lite | Android

This app for PreK-1 includes 500 words, including sight words, with nice illustrations. It has a word - object match quiz that reads the word to the child when they get it right.

Monkey Match | iTunes

This pre-K pre-reading app offers lots of animated hijinx to help your young one learn the alphabet and phonemes - beginning sounds and rhymes. The app comes from WGBH's PBS Kids show, "Between the Lions".

ABC Magic Phonics | iTunes

For preK-K. Simple app for iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. See a letter and the picture of a word that begins with that letter. Tap the letter to hear its sound. Tap the picture to listen to its word. No distractions on the screen help kids to focus on the basics.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

    What's been your experience with reading apps?

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      • profile image

        Zoey Anderson 

        2 weeks ago

        could be better if you could make your own book

      • EdTecher profile imageAUTHOR

        Heidi Reina 

        2 years ago from USA

        Thanks for the recommendation! It looks like a really interesting interactive story set. Readers be advised that the app and first group of stories are free with registration. Other story sets for the app are fee-based.

      • EdTecher profile imageAUTHOR

        Heidi Reina 

        2 years ago from USA

        Looks like a good one, Caroline. Thanks for sharing it!

      • profile image


        5 years ago

        Meme tales looks quite interesting to me. Given that kids are now using gizmos to learn how to read it makes for an interesting way for a child to learn how to read. I use interesting ideas to make learning more exciting for my kids.


        Dani Rren

      • profile image


        5 years ago

        As a kindergarten and first grade teacher, I can never find enough good books at the easiest reading level so I write them myself. There are some great learn to read apps but most of them focus on phonics skills and any books they include are too hard for the very youngest readers. I have just released an iPad app called The Reading Train, which is loaded with more than a hundred easy to read books on 3 levels, a picture dictionary, songbooks and a great quiz train game to extend the learning after every book. It is perfect for ages 4-6, as well as English language learners and children with special needs.The app is free to download and I would love to hear your feedback.

      • EdTecher profile imageAUTHOR

        Heidi Reina 

        5 years ago from USA

        @Jeanine 515: I'm sorry these didn't work for you. I fixed the free ebooks link, so please try again. To download Kid Mode, go to the Google Play store from your Android device, or the Amazon store from your Kindle Fire. Either way, it's free.

      • Jeanine 515 profile image

        Jeanine 515 

        5 years ago

        I tried to go to the kid mode play and learn and the free ebook links and both didn't work:-(

      • profile image


        5 years ago

        I got my kids started early to readâ¦before they ever entered kindergarten. I canât overstate how much it helped their overall confidence level in all subjects. My boy started reading at age 3. As he entered first grade and they told me he was reading on the 5th grade level. Kids love reading when they can learn with no pressure.

        For more info on my favorite program on early reading by phonics

      • profile image


        6 years ago

        You usually get what you pay for :) The free ones are limited but there is no investment that will repay itself more profoundly than getting your kids reading confidently and enjoyably. It gives them a whole different outlook on life and education so do whatever you can!


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